New creative projects breathe new life into the craftsmanship of the past from a contemporary perspective.
May 18th, 2023, by Antonella Florio
Textiles, ceramics, and handmade paper have always been precious traditions of the Amalfi Coast. The tricky thing is to make the innovation of the past dialogue with that of the present. Some young artists have taken up the challenge and interpreted the old craftsmanship in creative and original ways. They have launched projects that combine ancient wisdom and craftsmanship, rooted in the area’s culture, with the demands of a modern, more refined aesthetic.
Giulia’s digital illustrations, born in the first lockdown
After studying Interior Design at the IED in Rome, Giulia Palumbo, 31, returned permanently to her beloved Positano. “I started for fun during the quarantine to draw my neighborhood. Beginning with simple lines, I tried to reproduce, using the Illustrator program, the architecture of the Positano landscape. I didn’t think this bare, minimal style would appeal, but evidently, the simplicity of the drawing struck a chord with the audience.”
Drawings with essential lines come to life through the use of bright hues. “Like the illustrations, the colors result from a dialogue with tradition; I use green, sea blue, red, yellow, and pink, in short, the typical colors of Positano houses.” There are many projects the very young illustrator has in store, but the one she is most excited about is being able to combine digital illustration with interior design. (@positanoillustration)
Casa Mastro, between Green lines and hippie-chic style
Ivan, Cristiana, and Ambra Mastro, respectively 33, 32, and 30 years old, are the main characters of an emerging artisan reality in the field of textiles in Positano. “Cristiana takes care of production in the workshop, while Ambra and I work on direct sales. In reality, however, all three of us contribute to the creative process by connecting the workshop with the customer’s needs,” says Ivan Mastro, the eldest of the siblings.
Linen is almost always the main fabric of their creations. “We wanted to take up the tradition of Positano ‘patches’ by intercepting the green need of the planet. We love linen and cotton because they are natural fibers, and we believe in the potential of raw yarns. To this, however, we add an unmistakable touch of femininity with lace inserts and embroidery textures. I think the hippie-chic style for the evening is what best represents us,” Ivan tells us.
The inspiration for this project probably also came thanks to his father, Raffaele Mastro, who has worked in fashion for 40 years. “I think our father’s greatest contribution is this: allowing himself to make mistakes continuously to improve.” (@casamastro_positano)
Paola and Amalfi’s handmade paper experiential notebooks.
We move on from Positano to meet Paola de Luca, 41, an artist bookbinder. Paola is from Amalfi but does not like parochialism; for that matter, how could she? After spending several years abroad in conflict zones working for various NGOs, she returned to the Amalfi Coast to devote herself to her creations.
“My notebooks act as a bridge between past, present, and future, between the craft tradition inaugurated by my family and my personal history. I use vintage paper and fabrics, stamps, and photos to make my handmade paper notebooks. Through them, I tell stories, emotions, dreams, my own life, and the lives of others. Yes, I think the definition of experiential notebooks works.”
In the future, the artist plans to create something for the fashion industry. “I intend to continue working with handmade paper because I believe in the sustainability of this tradition. But I would love to combine bookbinding and tailoring. I’m working on it.” (@karta.handmade)
The protomaiolics of the forgotten tradition. A project with two voices
Alessio Amato of Ravello and Salvatore Boscaglia of Marmorata di Ravello, 36 and 38 years old, are the project’s promoters to raise awareness about proto maiolica on the Amalfi Coast. “Salvatore is the artist while I do the theoretical investigation,” explains Alessio, an archaeologist and tour guide.
Usually, we talk about innovation in tradition, but this project goes against the trend. The idea is to present protomaiolica – for non-specialists and, with extreme simplification, pottery that is rough to the touch – as a tradition in innovation: innovation represented by the majolica or glazed pottery we all know, especially, and often unfortunately, at the industrial level. (@neropece.art)
Enza and Mara D’Arienzo: an all-female reality from Vietri sul Mare
Enza and Mara d’Arienzo, 50 and 45, are two ceramists who have been active in the Vietri sul Mare area for over 20 years. Enza and Mara develop their style in total independence, among the first non-foreign women to operate in the area.
“We are not daughters of art, which has allowed us to develop our artistic discourse in total autonomy. Moreover, the women potters in Vietri have always been foreigners; think of Kowaliska. In our mother’s time, these were exclusively male professions.”
To date, Enza runs the Artemika workshop store in Vietri’s historic center. At the same time, Mara is involved in Ceramic Courses with the CAT (Traditional Artisan Ceramics) Association at a splendid Multipurpose Hub just a few steps from the workshop store. Many initiatives are in the works at the center for 2021. (@artemika.ceramica.vietri – @Corso di Ceramica Vietri sul Mare)