c.r.e.t.a. rome / Rome, Italy

c.r.e.t.a. rome / Rome, Italy

for sculptors, ceramists and potters,
as well as for visual artists and writers

A material expressing the timelessness of art

c.r.e.t.a. rome is a creative centre for ceramics and the visual arts, founded in 2012 and is held privately. It ‘serves as a point of encounter for international exchange between artists, collectors, donors and the public’. Named according to the Italian word for clay ‘creta’, it is a space for ceramics, residencies, exhibitions, teaching and the arts, located in the middle of Rome’s old town.
Here, between Capitoline Hill and Jewish quarter, ceramists, sculptors, visual artists and writers will find two warm hearts, anything but stone.

The co-founders Lori-Ann Touchette and her partner Paolo Porelli are giving this place its expertise and soul.
Lori-Ann is classical archaeologist and art historian, graduated from Princeton and Brown University and holding a PhD from Oxford. She originally is from the US, but living and teaching in Rome since 1997.
Paolo is an artist, sculptor and functional potter, born and grown up in Rome. He was a fellow with different international residency programmes himself before.
The title photo shows lustre work: vases, bowls and cups by Paolo Porelli.
For Lori-Ann and Paolo, no other material better could express the timelessness of art.
Their holistic approach to the arts, as well as to life, conveys instantly when entering the space: Agreeing with the words of St. Francis of Assisi: ‘…He who works with his hands and his head and his heart is an artists’, and sharing this definition with their community via social media.
They chose the broadest designation possible in order to include everything, from the more traditional visual arts to the culinary arts, music, art history and cultural studies.
‘Via dei Delfini, nel Palazzo dei Delfini’ is the address of c.r.e.t.a. – at the ground level of a palace from the mid-16th century, which is the property of the Polish Catholic Church. Behind the entrance of a seemingly posh shop, the all in one, exhibition space/ atelier/ office and studio, found its attractive home on ground level.

The tiny, shady street hosts several galleries and an adorably outmoded grocery store. Typical cafés, restaurants and fantastic ‘gelaterias’ are around the corner, e.g. at Piazza Venezia.
As if by snapping your fingers the thousands of tourists disappear – the never ending stream of people coming to see the Colosseo, that flows with the masses to Foro Romano, and then steps on to the Monument to Vittorio Emanuele II.
Just a block of houses aside, the hustle is gone; Suddenly only real citizens to see – in medieval scenery.
Arriving exactly to the minute, the German punctuality revealed – honestly, I felt a bit embarrassed, also because a freshly made lunch sandwich had to remain uneaten.

Truly, they must have become used to delays – visitors from abroad, who get lost in the winding alleys and, let’s say, Italian timing.
First, their cute dog Ciuffo welcomed me, already spotting me from behind the windowpane, and then Lori-Ann herself. With sincere cordiality and embracing hospitality she asks if I had any trouble to find it.
Of course, I don’t tell about the rush beforehand – walking up cobble stone serpentines and down curvy worn stairs, passing by delicious cappuccino- and homemade pizza scent.
Lori-Ann shows an artwork by Misty Gamble made of blue clay – originally that blue, no added pigments.
Inspired by Roman antiquity and the very special, intense natural light of southern Europe, the most unconventional ideas are realised.

They find support with interns, mainly coming from the sector of art history or practical ceramics and pottery.
With their help, the daily programme of classes and the bilingual office tasks can be run.
The photo to the right shows Jessie Fontana-Maisel, student of art history from the US, studying in Rome and finding ‘training on the job’ here.

The works produced by the resident artists during their stay are presented, tagged and additional info material displayed, so interested galleries and collectors can get in touch.
Courses and workshops, led by Paolo, for beginners and advanced clay craft workers and artists, for adults as well as kids, are offered on a fixed schedule.

Diverse techniques and styles are taught, such as Raku, low-fire glazes, and lustre glazes.
One- and two-week workshops taught by international artists give participants access to additional media and methods.

The resident artists have access to the studios 24 hours per day, 7 days per week. They obtain assistance in procuring materials for their work, advice on museums, galleries and sites in Rome and beyond. A final group show gives artists the opportunity to exhibit work made during the residency period.

Both together moreover offer cooking classes, realising genuine multi-course Italian dinners according to traditional recipes, learned from a long-time friend and expert chef, now advanced in age. Of course, well-selected wines are served with it. The idea of coming together with friends and inspiring people, to cook and eat commonly, is one of the origins of the artist residency concept.

The atelier is properly trim and tidy at this well-renovated space, that still lets play the charms of the old architecture with its gothic arches.
Likewise, the rear workshop is nice and tidy, so the three workstations really get you in the mood to roll up the sleeves and get started.

Compared with AIR’s at state institutions or funded programmes, there is a considerable fee to pay to the independent organisation, but as usual  artists can apply for grants at official bodies and will find assistance for this. The fee includes accommodation in the historical centre of Rome, so rents make quite a quota.

Crossing the inner courtyard, there is an important archaeological dig-taking place literally next door.
The most impressive view on this
excavation site, as well as to the imposing apartments, which have been accommodating fellows already, is to get from the common roof top terrace.
Beautifully planted and maintained, it offers the perfect ambiance for recreation and inspiration.
What a perfect spot for a moment of silence and indulgence while enjoying the terracotta coloured light, surrounded by the vivid life of the Eternal City.
The partners in life and work furthermore conduct a second place in the countryside, which functions as AIR as well. It is about an hour’s drive northwards from the capitol, near the lake of Bracciano.
For ceramists and sculptors, visual artists and writers,
 this residency is a pleasant refuge amidst stimulating historical sites at the cradle of Europe, caringly accompanied and guided by professionals:
Absolutely worth going for it!

More info on the c.r.e.t.a. rome homepage, on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.
Mille grazie per la meravigliosa ospitalità. Tutto il meglio per il futuro!

Photos: c.r.e.t.a. rome, A.M.;
Interview with:
Dr. Lori-Ann Touchette and Paolo Porelli, co-founders of c.r.e.t.a. rome,
Rome, 24th September 2014.