The main passion is for my work, doing things, being creative; by creativity I don't just mean making a "thing" but also a method for finding solutions, finding ideas, perceiving and transforming them.
What passion drives you, inspires you or motivates you?
The main passion is for my work, doing things, being creative; by creativity I don't just mean making a "thing" but also a method for finding solutions, finding ideas, perceiving and transforming them. I also find it stimulating to work towards objectives where each goal aims to create something that goes beyond oneself, which has a collective reason and, to use an improper term, which has an "ethical" goal. In addition the person that held this post before me, namely Laura Cretara, left me a powerful and important moral legacy.
The relationship between the technique of the hand and the creativity of the mind is increasingly difficult to handle. How do you help students tackling this issue?
First of all the School's students are encouraged to study the "grammar" of art, i.e. the artistic technique in its very essence, in its practice. From the outset time is dedicated to "copying" antique works, so that they have an artistic and technical reference point. Work is done on examples of the history of art, and on items from the Mint's historical heritage as well as that of our Museum. Subsequently work starts on projects. For each technique and activity, the student is encouraged to make his or her own creative design, making the complete "work", right down to the prototype or the unique object. Our aim is not to train up operators but fully-fledged artists and artisans with creative and designing skills.
In addition our School, which is located on the Mint's premises, contributes towards the manufacturing activities of the factory with designs, drafts and prototypes of medals and artistic objects.
Is Rome's Medal Art School open to the new technologies? Are they introduced from the early years, or only after students have acquired steadier manual skills?
The relationship with graphic composition and 3D digital modelling techniques accompanies pupils throughout all three years of the course. The computer is placed alongside manual techniques, so that the right kind of relationship between technology, art and production is fostered. We view digital technologies as a tool, as important as modelling tools such as chisels. Technology does not eradicate manual skills as it cannot substitute the hand. It is used for attaining other goals; work is optimised and it is a useful tool for creativity.
We view digital technologies as a tool, as important as modelling tools such as chisels. Technology does not eradicate manual skills as it cannot substitute the hand.
In your opinion, what are the perspectives for the Maîtres d'Art leaving the Medal Art School to enter today's globalised world?
Broadly speaking, "globalization" is defined as a process whereby products become more uniform, and production methods are brought into line with one another. In a globalised work, art and high craftsmanship are vital resources, as "excellence" calls for quality and uniqueness; besides, they possess a "language", namely that of image, which is universally understood worldwide. On the other hand, globalization can provide an opportunity to make ideas and products flow, and it can lead to positive phenomena whereby global and local items can be seen as two sides of the same coin. The School's pupils can seize opportunities arising out of their knowledge of "rare arts", which lead to a personal differentiation with regard to the artistic scene. This undoubtedly leads to a more complicated world, yet it can provide a good opportunity. In addition, art and profession are knowledge forms that outdate language and culture.
It should also be noted that the Medal Art School is unique of its kind worldwide. It receives students from Mints abroad, or from foreign culture institutes. Over the course of a hundred years in operation, it has welcomed young people from every continent, bringing cultures and knowledge together. Perhaps this can be viewed as a positive phenomenon of globalization.
In the past, the Maîtres d'Art were trained in workshops; now we are witnessing an increase in specialist and sector-related schools. Do you think it is more important to experience the workshop laboratory or that of classroom training?
The training of a Maître d'Art is a slow and complicated process, particularly now that, in addition to manual skill, people are learning with a long working process and it is necessary to place interdisciplinary and cultural experiences alongside one another. Training should be divided into a harmonious combination of practice and theory, and should not focus on an individual aspect of the profession, overlooking knowledge of the entire artistic process. In practice I am not in favour of overly-specialised training.
The workshop as a training model is vital, we work in the same way as a workshop in our School, with the teachers working alongside the students. The theory is often turned into practice; often, for example, the characteristics of the materials are explained whilst we are using them, or a history of art lesson is conducted whilst we making an object inspired by a particular period, linking information received in history of art courses with the technology of the materials. It is worth noting that the small number of pupils (ten pupils are taken on each year) allows us to create this working method.