September 14th – Today saw the official opening of Homo Faber, the first major cultural exhibition dedicated to the very best in European craftsmanship and an exhibtion Cavaliero Finn is very proud to have some of its artists featured in.
While exhibiting work at Collect at the Saatchi gallery earlier this year, Juliana and I were approached by Italian gallerist Jean Blanchaert, who alongside acclaimed architect Stefano Boeri were tasked with curating ‘Best of Europe’ just one of the 16 exhibition spaces featured at Homo Faber. Jean had been drawn to the work of Matthew Chambers and Ashraf Hanna on our stand and was eager for us to put their work forward for the Homo Faber selection panel.
Fast forward seven months and Juliana and I find ourselves at the Homo Faber opening ceremony at the Fondazione Giorgio Cini, on the Island of San Giorgio Maggiore, Venice, having worked with Jean and the Michelangelo Foundation to get Matthew and Ashraf’s work out to Italy for this hugely prestigious exhibition.
Ashraf Hanna created a stunning, eleven-piece installation for Homo Faber. Part of the artist’s Petrified Forest series, the work was inspired by the unveiling of an ancient forest by the storms that lashed the coast of West Wales in January 2014.
The Michelangelo Foundation for Creativity and Craftsmanship is an international non-profit organisation based in Geneva, Switzerland and was set up by Franco Cologni and Johann Rupert to celebrate and preserve fine craftsmanship, enhance visibility for creators by placing them on the global map and, crucially, attract a new generation of artisans.
While at the exhibition we were delighted to see the work of several other British artists. Ceramicist Frances Priest, whose work Cavaliero Finn will be taking to Collect in 2019, had also been chosen to submit work for the Best of Europe showcase. Frances’ work is heavily influenced by a book she grew up with, Grammar of Ornament by Owen Jones first published in 1856. She read this from cover to cover and so began her love of pattern. In her travels she started to make drawings of patterns she observed, from the arrangement of tiles on a temple roof to the embroidered silks on market stalls. Using clay as a canvas for mark making she builds richly drawn and layered surfaces of inlaid line, glaze, colour and enamel decals. The results are intricate and beautiful and we are delighted to represent her at Collect next year.
Other British artisans with work on show at Homo Faber Best of Europe were ceramicists Nicholas Lee and Vanessa Hogge, sculptors Eleanor Lakelin and Rowan Marsh and metal workers Juliette Bigley, Claire Malet and Kevin Grey to name but a few.
Highlights for Juliana and I outside of the Best of Europe pavilion include a wonderful exhibition curated by the Triennale Design Museum team called Centuries of Shape which tells the tale of the history of the vase throughout the 20th and 21st century. We particularly liked Untitled, from the series Kuva by Kati Tuominen Nittyla; and Vessel Head by Cathrine Raben featured above.
We were also huge fans of the Fashion Inside and Out exhibition curated by Judith Clark, (Professor of Fashion and Museology at the London College of Fashion) and Sam Collins.
Featuring objects that span the last 20 years of fashion’s avant garde, the exhibition is staged in the dramatic space of the glazed Gandini swimming pool, overlooking the Fondazione Giorgio Cini’s garden and out to the lagoon. Judith Clark puts the spotlight on the master artisans whose skills are so crucial to contemporary fashion and she includes Phoebe English, Stephen Jones, vintage Chloe and Hussein Chalayan among many others.
Curated beautifully, the Natural Talent exhibition was also a hit with Cavaliero Finn. In partnership with the Fondazione Cologni dei Mestieri dArte, The Creative Academy set about creating the calmest exhibtion space in the whole of Homo Faber. Nestled among the pale trunks of birch trees are 18 beautiful and intriguing wooden objects, the result of a special collaboration between talented young international design students at Milan’s Creative Academy and two Italian master woodworkers – Giordano Vigano and Torneria Meloni.
We absolutely loved our visit to Homo Faber and urge you to go if there’s any chance that you could visit Venice in the next two weeks. After all, where better to see such a show than in a city steeped in tradition, where artisans have resided for centuries and where, as Shelley wrote, temples and palaces ‘seem like fabrics of enchantment piled to heaven’.
For more information about the artisans chosen for Best of Europe Homo Faber click here
Homo Faber is free to enter and is open 10am to 7pm daily from 14th to 30th September 2018.