Montblanc and the most renowned craftsmen in Europe are presenting their creative arts in Venice. Learn more about Homo Faber, a festival of boundless human creativity.
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Michelangelo, Antonio Vivaldi... many Italian artists lived in the cultural metropolis of Venice. Centuries later, the famous lagoon city is still the hub of the creative world and will behosting the cultural exhibition “Homo Faber. Crafting a more human future” from 14 to 30 September. Discover unique European craftsmanship: stained glass artist IzabelaKovalevskaja, globemaker Peter Bellerby or plumassier Eric Charles-Donatien – you can learn all about the creators of these exclusive works here.
Izabela Kovalevskaja very much enjoyed sketching with the Montblanc Expression Nib, which will be previewed at Homo Faber. The Montblanc Expression Nib will be available in summer 2019.
Izabela Kovalevskaja made the transition from painting skin to painting glass. In this interview, she explains why she fell in love with a craft that was in vogue in the 16th century:
Ms Kovalevskaja, what was the key experience that made you fall in love with a craft that’s dying out?
This may sound a little grim, but I realised that tattoos are temporary. Theyonly exist as long as the tattooed person is alive. But I wanted to create somekind of heritage, something that will lasts longer than a lifetime. I got myinspiration from my hometown, Vilnius, with its beautiful churches.
What’s the difference between painting glass and tattooing skin?
Tattoos are finished within a few hours. Working with glass means painting andfiring the glass over and over. The process includes sandblasting andenamelling as well. Sketching out designs using ink and paper takes a lot oftime. I use everything I can find to draw lines using different amounts ofpressure, varying the width or using different shades.
How have you brought your art into the 21st century?
My aim is to inspire young people and give them enthusiasm for glass art. We learn the classic stuff, but architects, designers and conceptual artists also dosome outstanding work. Stained glass is far more than just this old fashion thatyou can see in churches. I want to work as a independent glassworker when I’vefinished my course, although there’s no word for ‘Master Artisan’ in Lithuanian.
Kovalevskaja’s stained glass is striking, dark and inventive, far from the “old and boring” description she hears many young people use to describe traditional stained glass in churches.
Izabela Kovalevskaja is from Lithuania, but she’s spent most of her life inNorway. She worked as a tattoo artist there for six years. But then she wantedmore. Kovalevskaja returned to Lithuania and is now one of four studentsstudying stained glass at the Vilnius Academy of Arts.
Peter Bellerby creates personalised globes with his London-based company Bellerby & Co. Globemakers – and these are also available as egg-shaped creations by special request.
Mr Bellerby, can you tell us about the most memorable globe you’ve created?
We made a globe in the shape of an egg for the Fabergé Big Egg Hunt charity fundraising campaign. We had to have a meridian that was carved in this special shape. A special globe like this would have cost tens of thousands of Euros. But it was an honour for us to create it.
How come one of your globes was seen in the Hollywood movie “Hugo”, directed by Martin Scorsese?
We do get asked to do these things, but the problem is always the timeline.Usually we have to say no. A celestial globe and a terrestrial globe are featured in the movie “Hugo”. Scorsese won a Golden Globe for the movie, but unfortunately he hasn’t asked us to make him a golden globe yet... (laughs)
Coincidence or destiny: Just ten miles north-west of Greenwich, the globally recognised prime meridian, Peter Bellerby creates customised globes using the Montblanc Bespoke Nib.
What are you expecting from the Homo Faber event in September?
Events like Homo Faber remind people that craftsmanship is essential for mankind. When I look at globemaking, it seems to me that people forgot all about this beautiful craft in the early 20th century. The product has to include elements of craft, design and love, incorporated in it by someone with soul.
Bellerby & Co are artisan globemakers based in London, United Kingdom.Founder Peter Bellerby decided to make his own globe when he was unable to find a suitable one for his father’s 80th birthday. Peter and his team have created hundreds of some of the most sought-after globes on the planet, each one personalised and meticulously handcrafted.
Eric Charles-Donatien is one of the last plumassiers in Paris, France. He’s worked with the biggest fashion houses, dressed stars like Kim Kardashian and brought his craft into the 21st century:
Mr Donatien, what was the key experience that made you fall in love with feathers?
(laughs) As a kid I believed I was an angel that had lost its wings. One day I had to find out where those wings had gone. So I decided that my creations all had to include feathers. Today I understand that my whole life has led me to feathercraft.
Feathers have huge spiritual power, they mean the love of life. This is what we try to show in our creations.
Some people have said you’ve brought an old tradition into the 21st century. What do they mean?
My aim was to make the tradition more popular by considering three steps: firstly, it was important to place feathers in another context. The second step was to create a fashion which made the young crowd think okay, this looks sexy enough for me. The third step involved adapting our traditional work into something more modern. We were not reinventing, but more reinterpreting.
For Eric Charles-Donatien, the combination of feathers and dresses are what create outstanding artistry – at Montblanc, we add a precious stone of your choice to the Jewellery Nib.
Kim Kardashian adorned herself with your feathers. Did you expect to have such an impact in fashion when you started at Lemarié?
Not at all! (laughs). We do things for the love we have for the craft itself,because we enjoy working with our hands and we respect Mother Nature. We didn’t think about the consequences. Kim was the happiest girl in the world when she put the dress on.
Eric Charles-Donatien is a plumassier, or feathercraft designer. He became an assistant to the famous French plumassier André Lemarié before going on to become head creative for La Maison Lemarié, and for 13 years he collaborated with the most prestigious of fashion houses. In 2010 he founded his own company MOYE & DA, his capsule brand of made-to-measure accessories.
4,000 square metres of pure craftsmanship
What the featured artisans are presenting is merely a fraction of what “HomoFaber. Crafting a more human future” has to offer. The organisers at the Michelangelo Foundation for Creativity and Craftsmanship will present a wide range of materials and disciplines – from goldsmithing and handmade tiled stoves, rare handicraft techniques and outstanding workmanship, to Montblanc’s fascinating world of craftsmanship – over a total area of 4,000 square metres. Created by a hand-picked team of world-class designers,curators and architects, the exhibition will extend over a number of magnificent spaces throughout the Fondazione Giorgio Cini.
What: Homo Faber. Crafting a more human future.
When: 14–30 September
Where: Fondazione Giorgio Cini, Venice (Italy)
Admission: Free, but online registration required (see below)
Explore Homo Faber now (Link to register: www.homofaberevent.com)