EXCEPTIONAL OBJECTS BY EXCEPTIONAL ARTISANS
30 January – 25 march 2020
Arcades des Arts presents an intimate portrait of fifteen European artisans; an opportunity to discover this new space, a showcase for the expertise of watchmaking and the métiers d’art.
Each excels in his or her chosen field, such as engraving, mosaic, marquetry, leather, plumasserie or enamel, whose possibilities they explore as though to remind us that a passion can become a profession. These men and women may not be the only ones working in their field, they are nonetheless unique… perhaps because their skills or the materials they use are inherently associated with a particular territory, or because they are the last guardians of traditional know-how that was once widespread in their region, or because they are young talent breathing new life into a profession that was previously that of an older generation.
Rarity is increasingly… rare. As technology progresses it seems there is nothing that cannot be reproduced or copied, from precious stones to human bodies, in virtually unlimited numbers.
From his North London studio Peter Bellerby and his team of trained globe-makers and cartographers create handmade globes combining traditional and modern techniques. Everything from the wooden and metal bases, the artwork, the painting and map-making, the weighting and goring (applying the map to the sphere) are handmade and perfected in-house.
From his Paris workshop, Eric Charles-Donatien makes fashion accessories such as headwear, shoes, bags and jewellery displaying detailed feather work. Under his management, his studio also creates contemporary decorative art, combining feathers with metal, leather and a whole range of other materials. Eric is keen on preserving this rare craft and through his training of young apprentices, he works to preserve and promote it for the future.
Bastien Chevalier studied cabinetry for four years. Looking for a job, he knocked at the door of a cabinetry workshop in Sainte-Croix, where he found Jérome Boutteçon, Meilleur Ouvrier de France in wood marquetry. Although he had never had an apprentice, Jerôme Boutteçon took Bastien Chevalier under his wing and for five years taught him everything about the fine craft of marquetry. The latter trained Bastien in marquetry for close to six years in the cabinetmaking workshop Philippe Monti in St. Croix, Switzerland. Bastien was born in the era of graffiti, a world that deeply inspires him. The recognition of his work through international awards and exhibitions in salons and art galleries is growing day by day.
Philippe Dufour is the archetype of the watchmaker who designs and builds his timepieces the traditional way. His knowledge and skill, his extraordinary meticulosity, have made him a role model for others and even earned him celebrity status. After starting out in after-sales for Jaeger-LeCoultre in Germany then England, followed by two years in the Caribbean for General Watch Company, Philippe Dufour returned to Vallée de Joux where he has worked as an independent watchmaker since 1978. His first movement was a Grande Sonnerie wristwatch, an unprecedented prowess that immediately established him as one of the great masters. After this came the Duality then the Simplicity, already collector’s items.
François Junod is a master automaton builder. He works on automata and trains the next generation of apprentices from his workshop in Sainte-Croix, in the Jura canton of Switzerland, long distinguished for its rich tradition of watchmaking and precision mechanical engineering. Using traditional techniques, François creates and restores automata. He wishes to bring out the beauty of mechanics by highlighting cogs, wheels, springs and gears and not hiding them behind a frame.
Izabela Kovalevskaja is one of four students on the stained glass course at Vilnius Academy of Arts. She wishes to revive interest in this craft, which had a rich history in Lithuania but due to lack of new talent is slowly dying out. Her subjects are classical but her style is heavily influenced by her previous training as a tattoo artist.
Daniel Lopez Obrero is the third generation of his family to perfect the art of engraving and embossing leather, native to the Cordoban region of Spain. Daniel and his brother Carlos continue to perpetuate and develop the traditional skills of the workshop first set up by his grandparents in 1951 under the leathercraft brand Meryan. The workshop’s team is passionate about shedding light on their techniques and giving them the status they deserve.
On the Scottish Isle of Lewis, weaving is not so much a job, but more a way of life that tends to be handed down from generation to generation. Carloway Mill is one of only three mills in the world making Harris Tweed. The mill was on the verge of closing when Annie MacDonald and a business partner bought and modernised the mill. Using traditional techniques, they started to produce fabrics more adapted to contemporary demand, such as a lighter fabric used in women’s wear.
Isle of Lewis
Isle of Lewis HS2 9AG, Royaume-Uni
+44 1851 643 300
Despite being told by his teachers that he did not have the necessary talent to continue his studies in engraving, Richard Maier carried on down this path with thorough determination and passion. Working from his studio in Stuttgart, Germany, he is now considered a pioneer in art engraving.
From her studio in Åre, Sweden, Johanna Nestor perpetuates the age-old tradition of handmaking stoves. Her stoves embrace contemporary designs and evoke themes of nature, while seeking to preserve traditional techniques. Designed to take on a tree like appearance, her stoves are made from handmade ceramic tiles, which are then assembled one by one into a centrepiece stove.
Anita Porchet is one of the world’s most distinguished enamel artists. From her enamel workshop close to Lausanne, Switzerland, she creates minute and detailed enamel masterpieces on watch dials. She works with some of the biggest names in the watch industry such as Patek Philippe, Vacheron Constantin and Piaget. Anita is known for her mastery of the champlevé technique, where an engraving is filled with enamel before being fired and polished.
From his workshop in the heart of Florence, Leonardo Scarpelli and his team of expert artisans work an ancient craft of mosaic making from stones, passed down from masters of the Renaissance. The stones for the mosaics are collected by Renzo and his team from the Florence area. These are then worked on and sorted before being expertly and minutely created into mosaics with a painterly quality.
Ingunn Undrum & Sarah Sjøgren
Ingunn Undrum and Sarah Sjøgren make rope by hand in a workshop attached to the Hardanger og Voss (Hardanger Maritime Museum), the only place in Norway where this traditional trade is kept alive. The ropes are made from natural fibres including hemp, manila, linden and horse hair using techniques that date back to the Middle Ages. The pair mainly make rope for rigging on traditional boats, but also for railings, lassos and decoration.
Isabelle Villa is a miniaturist who has worked freelance since 2007. Over the years, this immensely talented artist has forged lasting relations with the leading names in watchmaking as a creator of extraordinary dials. They include Bovet, which commissioned Isabelle to paint stunningly lifelike portraits of animals, Hermès for reproductions of patterns from silk scarves, as well as Cartier, Girard-Perregaux, Jacob & Co, MB&F, Montblanc, Van Cleef & Arpels and others. Isabelle can turn her hand to any subject on surfaces as diverse as stone, mother-of-pearl and sapphire. From a palette of primary colours, she produces multiple nuances to craft miniatures that are rich in tonalities.
Konstantinos Vogiatzakis perpetuates the ancient trade of saddle making for mules and donkeys from his workshop in the Magnesia region of Greece. He is the last remaining artisan to practice this trade in the region. In order to create the saddle perfectly he takes the measurements directly from the animal. He only works during daylight hours since his workshop has no electricity.
François Junod – Automaton building
Jean-Jacques Rousseau – 2007 Steel, aluminium, polyester, glass, hemp fabric, lambskin, oil paint, electric motor
Eric Charles-Donatien – Featherwork
Samourai Pheasant feathers, leather, metal
Leonardo Scarpelli – Mosaic, Commesso fiorentino
Designer Pierre Marie. Nascita di Una Stella (Birth Of A Star) – 2017. Semi-precious stones
François Junod – Automaton building
This automaton of philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712–1778) was created using the same dimensions as a human head. The wig parts to reveal a pair of small, chirping birds. François Junod wishes to bring out the beauty of mechanics by highlighting cogs, wheels, springs and gears, rather than hiding them behind a frame.
Eric Charles-Donatien – Featherwork
Centerpiece in burnished metal scales, pheasant feathers and crocodile print leather. A protective shell is placed between the ark and the armour, where the feathers symbolise the animal kingdom in an ornamental role.
Leonardo Scarpelli – Mosaic, Commesso fiorentino
This elegant tray, created for the 2017 edition of Doppia Firma, was crafted with semi-precious stones using the time-honoured technique of commesso fiorentino, the Florentine art of stone marquetry. Leonardo Scarpelli integrates the natural patterns of the stones into an intricate design created by French designer Pierre Marie. A constellation of polished labradorite stands out in the centre of the tray, a display of iridescence, representing the birth of a new star.
Courtesy of: Fondazione Cologni dei Mestieri d’Arte
A word from the curators
When we set out to present the concept of rare crafts, after thinking about rarity itself and how it could be shown in a new light, we imagined a story that would convey, in a poetic form, these Singular Talents. We went in search of artisans who are committed to perfecting techniques; individuals who believe in the culture of beauty and excellence, and the importance of carrying them into the future. From the master craftsman to the neo-artisan, they devote themselves mind, body and soul to excellence, with sensitivity and skill.
These artisans have the power to surprise us and to give us hope with rare objects that speak to our hearts. They re-enchant our world. By recognising the rich heritage of every form of expertise, we perpetuate the talent and the beauty behind each gesture. We build a bridge between past and future. These singular talents have the power to surprise us and to give us hope.
The Michelangelo Foundation for Creativity and Craftsmanship and the Fondation de la Haute Horlogerie extend their sincere thanks to all those who, in various capacities, contributed to Singular Talents, and in particular the fifteen craftsmen and women who opened the doors of their workshops across Europe.
Art has always inspired the creation of exceptional objects, beyond borders. It is the essence of Arcades des Arts to share its passion for creativity with as many people as possible.
The Singular Talents film series has been selected for the 12th International Film Festival for Fine Crafts (FIFMA) and will be screened as part of the 30 films in competition, 24-26 April, 2020, in Montreuil, France.
Michelangelo Foundation for Creativity and Craftsmanship et Fondation de la Haute Horlogerie
Directors of Photography
Arthur Touchais, Gabriel Bonnefoy
Peter Bellerby, Bellerby & Co, globemaker, United Kingdom
Eric Charles-Donatien, plumassier, France
Bastien Chevalier, cabinetmaker, Switzerland
Philippe Dufour, master watchmaker, Switzerland
François Junod, automaton-maker, Switzerland
Izabela Kovalevskaja, stained glass artist, Lithuania
Daniel López-Obrero, leather engraver, Spain
Richard Maier, art engraver, Germany
Annie MacDonald, Carloway Mill, weaver, United Kingdom
Johanna Nestor, ceramic stove-maker, Sweden
Anita Porchet, watch dial enameller, Switzerland
Isabelle Villa, miniature painter, Switzerland
Leonardo Scarpelli, hard-stone mosaic artist, Italy
Ingunn Undrum & Sarah Sjøgreen, ropemakers, Norway
Konstantinos Vogiatzakis, saddlemaker, Greece
Alcázar de los Reyes Cristianos / Ayuntamento de Córdoba
Centre des Monuments Nationaux, établissement gérant le Palais Royal de Paris
Le Château d’Hohenzollern
Hardanger Maritime Museum Norheimsund
Archidiocèse de la Curie de Vilnius