A Ceramic Lover's Journey Through Italy with Liz Brewster

A Ceramic Lover's Journey Through Italy with Liz Brewster


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Take a trip down the Italian peninsula with an expert in decorative arts and architecture to discover lesser-known medieval towns and hamlets where the art of making ceramics has been going strong for centuries.

Italy is world-famous for its maiolica, a brilliantly colored, hand-painted earthenware ceramic that has been produced there since the 1400s. Gorgeous maiolica tableware which once graced renaissance banquets of European nobility can be seen today in top museums such as the Louvre, the Victoria and Albert, the Ashmolean, the Met, the Getty, and the Hermitage. Today hundreds of artist and artisan workshops throughout Italy continue this tradition, handcrafting new pieces in traditional, regional, and contemporary styles.

In this talk, we'll briefly trace the history of Italian maiolica to see how designs, styles, color, and techniques developed. We'll examine some of the exquisite pieces produced by renaissance master craftsmen, in order to comprehend long-lasting traditional influences found in much modern maiolica made today.

Next, we'll explore 5 important ceramic-producing towns, each from a different region: Faenza (Emilia Romagna), Deruta (Umbria), Vietri (Campania), Grottaglie (Apulia), and Caltagirone (Sicily). In each town we'll seek out the local maiolica traditions, looking for the unique colors, patterns, designs, and specialty pieces that are produced and sold there. We'll see historical maiolica proudly decoration each town's public spaces: in the streets and piazzas, on the building facades, and inside the courtyards and churches.

Led by architect and independent design researcher Liz Brewster, this interactive seminar will examine the art of Italian maiolica, past and present. Designed to inform curiosity as well as future travels, participants might be inspired to visit some of these medieval towns, bringing with them a new understanding and appreciation of the ages-old local craftsmanship.

Liz Brewster, a native of San Francisco, California holds degrees in architecture from the University of California at Berkeley and Università degli studi "La Sapienza", Rome. She specialized in restoration and urban design. Her restoration projects have brought her to work in direct contact with the rich historical layers of Rome and Italy. She has been leading study walks for Context Rome since its beginning and has lived in Rome since 1988 practicing architecture, researching design, and lecturing at university study abroad programs.

This conversation is suitable for all ages

90 minutes, including a 30 minute Q&A.

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