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La Terra Incantata: between dream and reality

Posted on04/28/2017 by

La Terra Incantata is a land of dreams and colors; it is not only a fantasy because it really exists. Located in Grottaglie (TA), along San Giorgio Gravina, in the picturesque area of ceramics: one of the most unique neighborhoods in the world; where also located is the Ceramics Museum, in the south-eastern part of Castello Episcopio.

For many centuries the clay production of Grottaglie has been the main economic source. The production of ceramics is still flourishing, thanks to the rich red clay quarries in the area. Today Grottaglie is the only town in Puglia protected by trademark D.O.C. and is included in the 28 cities shortlisted known for Italian ceramics. The brothers John and Donatello Spagnulo are sons of artistic background for three generations and know the craft very well.

In January 2000, Gianni and Donatello Spagnulo decided to open a laboratory of artistic and handmade pottery in this district. The Spagnulo brothers both graduated at the State Institute – ceramic art section. Over the years of design art reproductions, they have grown and developed various production lines from the whistle to the traditional majolica.

With their latest collections they want to reinterpret the ceramics of Grottaglie, enriching it of contents and themes of the sacred and secular painting, exploring languages near and far of our traditional culture, points of departure and stimulating visual worlds in which to develop creative paths that merge in the art of earth and fire.

For example The Spagnulo brothers have revisited the “Pumo”: typical lucky charm of grottagliese tradition. It is said that the Pumo is presented as a good omen to those who move into a new home or starting a new business. Generally it has a cream, dark green or yellow ocher colored background. Gianni and Donatello wanted to reinterpret it including vivid colors and artistic motifs inspired by existing figurative works, such as “The Kiss” and “The Tree of Life” by Klimt. They approach towards painting is to learn new horizons which are never explored by the classical idea of ceramics work.

Another revision was made to the “Capasone”. The Spagnulo brothers explain: “The capasone, also said “zirre”, is a clay container, similar to a large yellow or yellow / brown colored jar. The term derives from the dialect “capase” (capable), and indicates the most capable, the largest than all containers. In the past it was used, especially in Puglia (in the local dialect “Capes (s)”) for storing wine and more rarely oil. Today it is often found as a garden decoration. As a container for the wine, the Capasone becomes the cradle and frame of fine wines, in a reworking of the forms, the objects of our rich pottery grottagliese tradition revive and reshape in an elegant blend of the past and modern times.”

The two craftsmen brothers also revisiting the sacred art: “The “Icons” collection is a unique and original reinterpretation of the iconographic Russian-Byzantine culture. The works reproduce, in ceramic, the intense atmosphere of original works, without imitating their painterly effect, but retaining the traditional language. Starting from the sacred icon roots that created and developed the Orthodox east, our research leads us through the testimony of a vast production of cave paintings, in the heart of the religious history of the Apulian territory.”

But the most striking objects created by the imaginative hands of Gianni and Donatello are, undoubtedly, their Owls collection.

Their creations are fun, colorful, irreverent, innovative but with the squeezed eye to the Apulian tradition. The brothers explain: “The Owls are the symbol of wisdom and knowledge. In the middle Ages students went to the exams wearing their amulets in the shape of owl. The owls, as well as bringing good fortune, they can also be synonymous with protection. In some places they used to sew a bird’s feather on the brides dress for luck, and in many homes there was the so-called “morning twilight”, a hole just below the roof that served as a nest for owls that, grateful for the hospitality, would keep off evil.”

At the Design Week in Milan this year there was the Apulia Region’s pavilion and among the craftsmen and companies, was present the brothers of La Terra Incantata, who have collaborated on the “Hidden Circles” project: a collection of dishes decorated by Ubaldo Occhinegro and Micaela Pignatelli of the MUA Studio Architettura e Design. The dishes are in ceramic and were made in the Spagnulo brothers’ lab at Grottaglie (TA).

Spagnulo brothers are constantly looking for new ceramic expressions; they want to go beyond the traditional concept of ceramics using new elements and ideas. The creations point to a future of innovation, never forgetting their roots which come from “The Enchanted Land” Puglia.

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