10 December 2015
TOLFA AND ITS LABORATORIO BOSCHIVO
With Pirjo Eronen
Around 10 years ago my family bought a beautiful holiday house in the little town called Tolfa,located 70 kilometers north of Rome and 30 minutes from the Tyrrhenian Sea, in the volcanic Tolfa mountains. I never thought before then, that could exist such a magic place full of history and nature. Tolfa is famous for its Etruscan finds from the 10th century B.C. but even for those from the stone age. The mountains are important for their minerals such as the alunite and the alum, but especially for those who loves the nature. Its culture, gastronomy and folklore are fascinating too with its events and festivals, such as the Art Festival, Tolfa Jazz, the international Music Festival or the Truffle festival.
Tolfa it is known for its most important character, the Buttero, the cowboy from the region of Maremma. The hard work of the buttero, consist in gathering together the oxen herd from the early sunrise, riding on Maremma horses. This has been handed down from one generation to another, supporting it even with agonistic challenges among different countries such as Portugal, Spain and France. There are many magic and secret places around Tolfa, such as the natural bath carved in the rock, full of hot sulfurous water hidden in the nature, try to find it……! Or the magnetic trekking routes for the most adveturous ones.
Last year it happened I discovered an enchanting place called “il laboratorio boschivo” the woody lab, created by the Finnish artist and ceramist Pirjo Eronen and artist and blacksmith Pietro Matarese.With a Master of Graphic Art Technology and Design at the University of the Technology in Otaniemi and University of Art and Design in Helsinki, Pirjo Eronen moved to Tolfa more than 20 years ago, in such suggestive place as the Tolfa woods. Her creations merge beautifully with the nature that surrounds the art installation and artworks.
The most used techniques by Pirjo are the porcelain or the raku, an ancient technique of Japanese origin. With its harmonious and simple shapes which are often used for the creation of cups adressed to the Tea Ceremony. She mostly employed the Limoges, a hard-paste porcelain from the region in west-central France and the Grés.
What brought you to Tolfa and how did your passion for the ceramic start? I came to Tolfa back in the August 1987 for the first time to meet my friends from Sweden and that is when I met my companion Pietro Matarese, who is from Civitavecchia but lives in Tolfa. For years we have been travelling with Pietro, without a destination and without knowing where to settle. When I got pregnant of my son 24 years ago, I started to be interested in ceramic and “I felt out of the blue”, with all the will to create something real and primitive. I started to study in Finland but then I continued in Faenza located in the Region of Emilia Romagna in Italy. In the 1997 as our son started the school, we settled in Tolfa end established my ceramic studio.
Which types of material you prefer to use in your artworks? I prefer the porcelain, as it is that kind of material which teaches you to be patient. Almost all my works are casted in custom gesso mould made by myself, as per the enamels.
How much of your artworks and techniques reflects the Scandinavian design? My works reflect completely my Finnish roots, as you can see it on its functional aspect and rational shapes. Until very recently the porcelain was rarely used by the Italian ceramists and the technique of the casting in gesso mould it is still used very seldom.
Is there a diversity between Italian and Finnish customers? Which is the standard identikit of the person who is interested and gets close to your pieces? The customers from the North Countries are used to buy functional items meanwhile Italians opt for adornment ones. My main customers are from Norway, who are members of the Italian-Norwegian Academic Facility in Tolfa and their friends and acquaintances, particularly women over 50.
You have been studying both in Finland and Italy, are there teaching differences between the cultures? The teaching apporoch in Finland it is more guided and applied than the italian one.
Some of your passions are gardening and hiking, how much of this has conditioned your works or from where you draw inspiration from? I get inspired by the shapes coming from the nature, like seeds, sprouts, buds, flowers and the wood around me which keeps changing all over the year.
Tell us more about Tolfa, the town that seduced you more than 20 years ago. Tolfa is like “an island”, far and close to everything at the same time. From the main square you can see the city of Rome which looks so close, but then to get to the closest town to Tolfa it takes 30 minutes by car. The nature is the key factor and it is amaizing living in a place that linger at its wild state.
Where is it possible to buy your creations and is it possible to visit your lab/studio? My Creations can be bought directly from my lab, where I have a little exhibition. The visit can be possible by arranging an appointment.
Did you ever thought to do some exhibition and promote your workshops in Finland and Helsinki too as you did before in 2004 at the Stangvik Festivalen? During the next summer, (20.7-28.8.2016) I will take part to a Ceramic exhibition at the Teijon Ruukki near Salo in Finland, where I will promote my studio. Unfortunatelly all the galleries located in Helsinki have a high cost level in organizing exhibitions yet.
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