The interview of this month is dedicated to Marina Gioitti, an artisan from Friuli who in the beautiful landscape of her mountains creates objects, pieces of furniture and works of art in wood, decorating them with freehand natural techniques.
When did you get started?
Officially in 1989. But actually... I'd have to say ever since I was born, or thereabouts!
What kind of training did you have?
No specific course of study: I come from classical studies and Medicine. But design and creation have always been with me.
How do you manage the difficult relationship between the hand's technique and the mind's creativity?
I find that both are different parts of a unicum; I have never had problems translating ideas into tangible reality.
The trick of the creative designer lies in getting old as little as possible in terms of ideas and taste, moving through the cultural climate like you did at 20.
What type of technique do you use to make your objects?
I love wood, especially fir and beech. In the case of the figurines that I make on the lathe, for example, I make a precise, detailed drawing for the wood-turner, who fortunately is my husband. After following the production of the model and fine-tuning the precise steps, I pass on to the decoration with glue tempera, which I make myself, using an ancient formula of Fra Angelico's: take soft, fresh cheese...
I use mineral pigments (iron oxides, zinc, chrome green, etc.), a little ammonia to fix the dyes, fresh ricotta as glue and whey as the medium. For the varnish I can choose between egg whites beaten to stiff peaks, beeswax in turpentine or in water and ammonia, or shellac in 90 percent alcohol. I always work freehand without leaving any traces.
With these simple tools, I create complete furnishings, wall decoration and painted tapestries for interiors, while outside, I prefer to use Byzantine fresco, pigment and distilled water on 2 mm. fine river sand slaked lime mortar, sparsely spread.
What are the prospects for art professions in globalized society?
I have no revealed truths to spread around. But I think that word-of-mouth, ideas with quality and authenticity, and niche professions can save us from competition from low-cost producers with low levels of creativity. And internet, which can let interested parties around the world know about our work, is a fundamental formidable tool.
How has the clientele that orders or buys your works evolved?
They get older... and their children grow up. The trick of the creative designer lies in getting old as little as possible in terms of ideas and taste, moving through the cultural climate like you did at 20. Children help a great deal. In order to understand them and make them understand you it is important to be friendly and optimistic. The past always serves as a raft to stop at temporarily, not a place to anchor. Despite these principles, each of us is a child of his times, but the artist is always a little more ahead: and so he or she can be "rescued".
How do you see the role of institutions in the management, promotion and protection of art professions?
Understanding how much the work of the artist-craftsman is worth, especially if related to the culture of the territory, is the task and merit of the institutions. But the heads of these organizations are not always people who are very sensitive, jostled as they are in every direction by economic, bureaucratic and political problems. On the whole, I think that the real problem is bureaucracy and excessive taxation; artists do not like to waste time with paperwork, and bookkeeping is certainly not their passion. Our ideal would be to work for a patron of the arts: no thoughts except the creation and perfection of the work commissioned!
What passion moves, inspires or motivates you?
The joy of inventing and making.
What is your link with the territory, with the context in which you work?
The link comes from the places – the uncontaminated woods and mountain landscapes that are so beautiful they bring tears to your eyes, flowers and spontaneous plants, wilds animals, silence and rarefied air, and above all, the snow. And then the culture and the traditions that are so ingenuous and amusing both to revive and poke fun at affectionately and respectfully.
What difficulties or hardships do you see in your sector?
The only hardship comes from the fear of being of no use to anyone any longer. The idea that everything has already been done, said or written. And unfair trade practices. But then you take a look at Facebook and find that there are young people who buy old clothes, recreate them and then invite their friends to a party where everything is on sale, with good live music, performances by artists and poets who read their works, sell and are happy. Then I am not afraid any longer and go turn out my latest discovery... ah, how wonderful!