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Sarah Monk meets artists and artisans who tell their stories through the materials they choose.

We started in Pietrasanta and Carrara, northern Italy, where generations of artists have worked in marble. Over the last four years Materially Speaking has also met with artisans in Venice, Paris and Liguria.

Our focus is to entertain with stories of artists and their materials, and to capture the community of artists that continue to grow near the marble fields.

Dancers and a carnival float at dusk
9 February 2024  |  28 minutes

Viareggio Carnival 2024:

Confetti in their blood

Returning to Viareggio Carnival on the 20th anniversary of La Compagnia del Carnevale to discover why their 200 volunteers come back year after year.

artisan laying stones in to a mosaic
24 January 2024  |  25 minutes

Gabriele Gelatti:

Like an insect

Gabriele Gelatti creates pebble mosaics which adorn churchyards and aristocratic gardens in the northern Italian region of Liguria.

smiling man sketching a drawing
13 December 2023  |  22 minutes

Robin Bell:

Pioneers and famous Canadians

A Canadian sculptor in Italy, Robin describes his self-taught approach to sculpture, celebrity commissions and learning directly from artisans.

seated woman holding colourful artwork
29 November 2023  |  22 minutes

Janice Mehlman:

Come fly with me

Janice Mehlman, New York photographer and professor of art, tells how her work moved from black-and-white images of architecture to colourful reflections of her soul.

smiling man standing with a selection of sheet metal samples
19 July 2023  |  20 minutes

Steaven Richard:

Artsmithing

Steaven Richard’s love of horses led to a stint in the army as a farrier making horseshoes. While travelling he found architectural styles that inspired his artistic metalwork.

portrait of a young man, Xavier Montoy
5 July 2023  |  24 minutes

Xavier Montoy:

Sternocera aequisignata

Xavier is passionate about insects and makes jewellery which highlights the beauty of the iridescent Sternocera beetle.

woman standing with a variety of violas and cellos
14 June 2023  |  26 minutes

Judith Kraft:

Early instrument maker

American-born Judith Kraft came to Paris to learn how to make the ancient musical instruments she loved – medieval fiddles and viola da gambas.

man in workshop holding knife
26 May 2023  |  24 minutes

Sylvain Maenhout:

Forging a new life

Sylvain Maenhout left his job in IT services to carve out a new life as an artisan making bespoke knives.

quiet, cobbled street in Paris
24 May 2023  |  4 minutes

Trailer:

Paris transformations

This spring sound specialist Mike Axinn and I went to Paris to meet four artisans and see how they practise their craft in an urban setting.

older man in art studio sitting and pointing
26 April 2023  |  28 minutes

Ron Mehlman:

An artist of many parts

Ron Mehlman grew up in Brooklyn and came to Pietrasanta in the 1980s. In his quest for creating sculpture infused with spirit and life, no materials are off limits.

sculptor with oversized marble piece of art
22 March 2023  |  16 minutes

Nicola Stagetti:

We can move the mountain

Nicola Stagetti of Stagetti Studios in Pietrasanta, and Robin Sethi, the project coordinator from India, describe the creation of Pramashwar the Infinite.

8 March 2023  |  35 minutes

John Greer:

Art is a language

John Greer finds that art provides an invaluable structure to his life. Expressing himself in form is more important than a visual language.

colourful carnival parade with large float of a clown
15 February 2023  |  22 minutes

Magic at the Carnevale:

Artisans of Viareggio

Viareggio Carnevale began in 1873 and is now a symbol of the city. Artisans gather in winter to create allegorical floats and masks, primarily using newspapers bonded by flour and water.

8 February 2023  |  34 minutes

Silvano Cattaï:

Into the light

Belgian born of Italian parentage, Silvano Cattaï came to sculpt in Italy via filmmaking in New York. Now he creates with a plasma gun and paint on aluminium.

25 January 2023  |  33 minutes

Vanessa Paschakarnis:

Feel with your eyes

German born Vanessa Paschakarnis migrated to Nova Scotia before coming to Pietrasanta in northern Italy. Hers is a philosophical approach to sculpture.

14 December 2022  |  38 minutes

Alvisé Boccanegra:

Venice — A floating miracle

Alvisé Boccanegra trained in restoration in the workshops of the Church of San Marco. He tells how he repaired a crucifix after Venice flooded in 2019.

30 November 2022  |  36 minutes

Gabriele Gmeiner:

Venice — Walking in their shoes

Gabriele Gmeiner makes high quality made-to-measure shoes in her workshop at Campiello del Sol. She speaks of her craft, her journey from Austria and why she chose Venice.

16 November 2022  |  38 minutes

Piero Dri:

Venice — Rowing through time

Piero Dri is the fourth and youngest remer in Venice making oars and oarlocks, or in Italian ‘forcolai’. Piero learned how to row aged just four. It's been his passion ever since.

14 November 2022  |  4 minutes

Trailer:

If you love Venice

Sound specialist Mike Axinn and I went to Venice during Homo Faber this Spring to meet three inspirational artisans. Here’s a short preview of their episodes.

2 November 2022  |  34 minutes

Marianna Blier:

Home

Marianna has Jewish, Ukrainian and Russian roots, but a lifelong passion for Michelangelo’s marble drew her to Carrara, a place she now calls home.

19 October 2022  |  28 minutes

Daphné Du Barry:

What is beauty?

Celebrated figurative sculptor Daphné Du Barry speaks seven languages and modelled for Salvador Dali in her 20s. She discusses her bronzes, her love of learning and her faith.

5 October 2022  |  35 minutes

Helaine Blumenfeld OBE:

The language of sculpture

Renowned sculptor Helaine Blumenfeld continually re-invents herself in her search for a vocabulary of form.

13 July 2022  |  56 minutes

Nilda Comas:

It was just a dream

Puerto Rican born Nilda Comas tells how she came to create the first state-sponsored African American statue for the US Capitol’s National Statuary Hall, in Washington.

15 June 2022  |  45 minutes

on form:

On stone

on form is an exhibition of sculpture in stone held every other summer at Asthall Manor, Oxfordshire. Discover what goes on during its installation.

20 December 2021  |  20 minutes

Flavia Robalo:

Dreaming

As a child Flavia Robalo dreamt of flying. She dreamed about it at night as well as in the day. She says that being imaginative always entailed living a little in the clouds.

woman smiling while standing in a sculture studio
15 December 2021  |  26 minutes

Veronica Fonzo:

Growth

Veronica Fonzo tells us the history of La Polveriera studios, and why she is inspired by centaurs.

27 October 2021  |  16 minutes

Filippo dalle Luche:

Key to the future

Filippo is a student at the Academy of Fine Arts in Carrara who uses new technology to help his village art gallery go virtual, and create a spare key for the local church.

20 October 2021  |  28 minutes

Julia Vance:

Letters and words

Norwegian artist Julia Vance is inspired by calligraphy and her work has been likened to ‘sculptural minimalistic poetry’.

14 July 2021  |  23 minutes

Guus Jooss:

Serious play

Guus Jooss is an artist and historian who feels a close link with antiquity. He encourages his students to consider creativity as play is to a child: a matter of life and death.

7 July 2021  |  24 minutes

Badriah Hamelink:

Absolute power

Young Dutch artist Badriah Hamelink hitchhiked to Pietrasanta in 2007 with a backpack and not much else. Having recently faced a near-death experience, she doubled her determination to focus on art.

30 June 2021  |  23 minutes

Neil Ferber:

Carvers or modellers

Not into stone for stone’s sake, Neil considers himself more a clay modeller. Turning to different materials, he then transforms his clay models into something more permanent.

23 June 2021  |  32 minutes

Cynthia Sah:

We are all connected

Cynthia tells the journey of her smaller pieces from caressing the stone, creating an artwork through to sharing an emotion with the collector.

16 June 2021  |  36 minutes

Anne Shingleton:

Animal magic

Born on a farm in Dorset, Anne Shingleton has always loved painting animals. In 1980 she came to Florence joining the atelier of a teacher who changed her life.

9 June 2021  |  32 minutes

Nicolas Bertoux:

Red Donkey

Trained as an architect, Nicolas Bertoux likes to know where his sculpture will live, and why. Unfortunately, sometimes the installation is not so straightforward.

2 June 2021  |  27 minutes

Jaya Schuerch:

Living Stone

Jaya Schuerch has always been fascinated by natural phenomena and loves the diversity of forms life can take, reminding us that we all derive from these forms.

26 May 2021  |  42 minutes

Emmanuel Fillion:

The art of cutting stone

Emmanuel Fillion trained young to restore medieval monuments in France. He loved climbing the scaffold in Paris at sunrise, but broke away to become an artist.

woman sat in sunny doorway
19 May 2021  |  36 minutes

Lucy Dickens:

The way she sees it

Lucy Dickens is an artist and illustrator, whose works exudes humour. Close friends since the age of three, Lucy and Sarah ramble and percolate over Lucy’s upcoming show.

14 May 2021  |  2 minutes

Prologue Series 2:

Back again

Twelve more artists, from Italy and the UK, tell us their stories and why they choose the materials they do. Hear some of their voices and how the pandemic impacted them.

28 August 2020  |  2 minutes

Epilogue Series 1:

Taking a break

Materially Speaking breaks for the summer but we've already started recording new interviews and look forward to sharing more artists' stories with you later this year.

31 July 2020  |  24 minutes

Sollai Cartwright:

Inspiration from everywhere

An Australian artist who studied carving in Pietrasanta under some of Italy’s finest artisans, Sollai Cartwright returns each year to find marble from the quarries.

sculptor in goggles using a chisel on stone
15 July 2020  |  26 minutes

Jacob Cartwright:

Embrace

Born into an artistic family and a musician from the age of nine, Jacob Cartwright tells us how he interprets what he hears or feels into his sculptures.

man using air hose to blow off his face
1 July 2020  |  21 minutes

Christian Lange:

A devil’s tool

Christian Lange researches what tools would have been used on a 500-year-old piece before he starts restoring it. ‘When I use a new tool the aesthetic will change.’

17 June 2020  |  22 minutes

Rita Meier:

Walking on marble

Rita Meier first came to Pietrasanta from Switzerland in 1988 and was amazed to discover there was marble everywhere. She remains fascinated by it.

5 June 2020  |  33 minutes

Neal Barab:

A life of their own

Neal Barab is not limited by the preciousness of white marble. He chooses between many different colours and textures of stone and often adds paint to them.

20 May 2020  |  20 minutes

Almuth Tebbenhoff:

Bigger than I am

Almuth Tebbenhoff left her native Germany for London where an encounter with Eduardo Paolozzi in the late 1970s took her art in a new direction.

6 May 2020  |  24 minutes

Michael Francis Cartwright:

All materials are equal

Michael Cartwright believes that whether you work with a bit of discarded tin or statuario marble from Michelangelo’s quarry, all deserve the same respect.

29 April 2020  |  24 minutes

Martin Foot:

What’s a mistake?

Liverpudlian Martin Foot worked weekends from the age of 13 for his uncle, a stone mason. At 19 he took a one way ticket to Australia to try his luck.

22 April 2020  |  23 minutes

Shona Nunan:

Balance

Australian born Shona Nunan takes inspiration from around the world. Fascinated by the ancient, she describes the impact Aboriginal figures had on her and her art.

15 April 2020  |  22 minutes

Eilis O’Connell:

Obsessed by scale

Eilis O’Connell, from Cork, Ireland, works in a wide range of materials. On arriving in Pietrasanta for a particular commission, she explains why it had to be made in marble.

8 April 2020  |  26 minutes

Douglas Robinson:

The stone spoke

'I'm just one of these people that don't pre-plan the sculpture. I don't make models … like you're supposed to.' Douglas shares his passion for stone and why he loves his new studio.

1 April 2020  |  22 minutes

Eppe de Haan:

Searching Souls

Dutch artist Eppe de Haan began as a painter before starting carving in marble. He tells of this journey from 2D to 3D and speaks of his series Searching Souls and his love of nature and the sea.

25 March 2020  |  23 minutes

Jim Hager:

Homeless

Californian, Jim Hager highlights street homelessness by carving a 'cardboard' house in marble. In a strange twist, gentrification becomes an issue all too close to Jim's studio home.

18 March 2020  |  22 minutes

Stephan Hamel:

Marble, luxury and power

Stephan Hamel tells the story of his Italian grandfather Cosimo Lorenzoni who was sent to India in 1937 to lay marble floors in a palace. Then the outbreak of war brought a dramatic change of fortune.

11 March 2020  |  24 minutes

Turid Gyllenhammar:

Strong women

Norwegian artist Turid Gyllenhammar tells us how she finally came to carve marble in her 50s, and what challenges she had to overcome to get here.

4 March 2020  |  34 minutes

Armen Agop:

Face the nothingness

As an Armenian born in Egypt, Armen Agop was always surrounded by desert. He tells us how this gave him a special freedom to dream and how he came to carve in granite.

27 February 2020  |  23 minutes

Maria Gamundi:

Spirito Libero

Venuzuelan born Maria Gamundi tells how she chose marble for one enormous sculpture and the emotional journey she took creating a memorial for a young woman who lost her life on the road.

26 February 2020  |  1.5 minutes

Prologue Series 1:

Artists of Pietrasanta

We start with stories from the community of artists working in stone near a town called Pietrasanta in northern Italy. Generations of artists have been coming here to source the marble available nearby and work with the highly skilled artisans.

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