Gabriella Sacchi tells us about her experience in the manufacture of ceramics

When did you begin your career Architect Sacchi?

I attended the Liceo Artistico di Brera and the Department of Architecture at the Milan Politecnico. As far as my training in ceramics is concerned, I took courses with various masters, both in Italy as well as abroad. I founded the Laboratorio Nibe in 1981, together with one of my ceramicist colleagues whom I worked until 2004, the year she decided to retire.

How do you deal with the difficult relation between manual technique and the creativity of the mind?

For those who are involved in the same type of work I am, there is no separation between life and work. The mind, consciously or unconsciously, always concentrates and is watchful: a creative idea can come in a thousand ways, while reading the email, riding in a car, walking down the street. That is why I have the habit of always having a pen and pencil with me, so I can jot down ideas and reflections that can then be translated into future creations. In my professional career, ability and technical knowledge have always kept stride with the themes that I thought of developing. There has always been a great level of communication between the two things. I would say that the maturing of a personality, on the artistic level, comes about precisely when there are no contradictions between poetics and its visual expression.
That is why I do not understand the art schools that choose to neglect producing "things" in order to give more room to theory only. Whoever works in the artistic field knows that ideas transmigrate from theory to practice and vice versa.

a creative idea can come in a thousand ways, while reading the email, riding in a car, walking down the street. That is why I have the habit of always having a pen and pencil with me, so I can jot down ideas and reflections that can then be translated into future creations

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One part of my career is dedicated to teaching: the territory, for me, is also constituted of many people who in these past years have approached the workshop and my work.

What kind of relationship do you have with new forms of technology?

The role of the computer is indispensable both for information, as well as managing work. As far as instruments more specifically connected with work in ceramics, for example kilns, today they are conceived of in a way that is quite different with respect to the past. Mine is a type of work that is much closer to the artistic/artisan sector, rather than to the industrial/artisan sector. So I do not use the instruments and machines that are typical of ceramics produced in series. In any event, I think that any type of technological innovation that simplifies or improves work can reveal interesting aspects and is therefore to be taken into consideration.

What are the prospects for Maestri d'Arte in globalised society?

I think that the role of a Maestro d'Arte can be assimilated to the role of art as a whole. In globalised society, art does not disappear, even if the ways in which it is expressed change.

How has the clientele that orders or buys your works changed?

The clientele that follows the work of an artist is, in a certain sense, the response to the objectives and goals that the artist sets for him/herself. When we first started working, my colleague and I were more oriented towards the production of small series. Today, my work is mainly dedicated to the creation of unique pieces with a mainly aesthetic value. That determines, along the lines of a trend even if not totally, a perceptible change in the type of clientele.

How do you perceive the role of the institutions in the management, promotion and protection of art professions?

The role of the institutions, in this field, leaves a great deal to be desired. While abroad, I happened to find myself in situations in which the contribution of institutions to art professions was considerable. In particular, I think of the assistance allocated to the promotion of schools, courses, competitions, or to the creation of places (offered under special conditions) where work in the arts can be carried out. I am thinking of funds to take part in fairs and manifestations, created in order to make these activities visible to a wider public. In Italy, art professions are disappearing and I feel as though I can state that the institutions have not understood the importance that these professions can have for a country like Italy, which possesses a tremendously vast cultural heritage and a wealth of artistic traditions. Here are some examples: there are no public, accredited public schools of restoration; schools like the Institutes with specializations in art professions have disappeared. We are shamefully lacking in music instruction. The hours of art history are being reduced rather than increased. It is not difficult to see a link between all of these elements: they are the proof that Italy has not placed the expansion of its artistic heritage or measures for its valorization or conservation among the priorities for the country's future development

What passion moves you, or inspires or motivates you?

Education in the schools and continuing education, the desire to do and the desire to know, historical knowledge and the ability to read reality, in-depth theory and technology accompanied by long practical work with materials are necessary elements in carrying out work like mine. All of this must of necessity by supported by a great passion. Career and passion nourish each other as the years go by.

What is your point of view towards "luxury"? Can we connect it with the uniqueness of products by Maestri d'Arte?

In a world where the majority of merchandise is standardised and globalised, the work of Maestri d'Arte has the character of uniqueness, and should be evaluated artistic work, that is to say, work that sums up in itself values of design, of culture and of transformation of the material on the part of the designer/craftsman.
The products of these works, as opposed to those in series, fall into the sphere of "luxury": in order to create them, in fact, many hours of work and a high level of qualification are necessary.

What are your ties with the territory, with the context in which you work?

Whoever is engaged in artistic work cannot not have ties with the territory. The territory where I live, Italy, has been the environment in which my education came about and that "nourished" my historical, aesthetic and technological knowledge.

Today, everyone moves and travels around much more than they did in the past, in a real and virtual sense: the culture of the land of origin is mixed and is transformed by the contribution of "other" cultures. This condition makes it more and more difficult to distinguish between cultures of origin and acquired cultures.
One part of my career is dedicated to teaching: the territory, for me, is also constituted of many people who in these past years have approached the workshop and my work.

How do young people live your profession? Do you have assistants?

It has happened that I have run across young – and not so young – people that are enthusiastic about the work I do. At times I have the impression that, based on that enthusiasm, there is a bit of ingenuousness and not enough knowledge of the difficulties and the tenacity necessary to do work that totally absorbs you.
I do not have fixed assistants, but I have headed projects to which other people contributed.