Flavia Robalo:


20 December 2021 | 20 minutes
artist in her studio surrounded by sculptures
Flavia with many of her wooden sculptures at La Polveriera studios

From a very young age Flavia drew and painted. She was always asking everyone around her for paper and colours because drawing was her language and her refuge. It was her way of processing everything that happened to her, much as some people use writing.

sculpture of woman being lifted by a variety of balloon forms

Flavia Robalo, Pensieri (Thoughts), 2011, wood

artist studio with paintings and sculptures

Flavia’s paintings of children flying, at Tre Luci

Flavia is inspired by her childhood and her work often ends up being self-portraits. Even if she tries to invent different characters behind her pieces, they always end up being her.

white stone girl leaning against the wind

Flavia Robalo, Todas las hojas son del viento (All the leaves are from the wind), 2019, pink Portuguese marble. Photo: Paola Tazzini Cha

The wind and roots are enduring themes in her work. You will often see characters flying or playing in the wind, while roots, Flavia says, allow you to move to another country while still retaining your culture and history.

white stone girl with tree roots positioned on her hair

Flavia Robalo, Luna piena (Full moon), 2020, white statuario marble and branches. Photo: Paola Tazzini Cha

small figure of girl walking on a wooden twig

Flavia Robalo, Volar con raices (Fly with roots), 2017, wood

Flavia is fond of working with wood and says that although there are similarities between wood and marble they have subtly different languages. She describes how wood, being easier to handle and able to be moved around without asking for help, makes it a material that guarantees her more independence.

Flavia co-founded La Polveriera, one of the last remaining studios in the centre of Pietrasanta, with her childhood friend Veronica Fonzo. But when the building was sold to developers, Flavia set up a new studio on the edge of Pietrasanta called Tre Luci. Here she and a handful of colleagues can work in peace without complaints about noise or dust.

Woman seated in bright red chair in an artist's studio

Flavia at Tre Luci studios

Exterior of artists' studio with sculpture next to door

Tre Luci Studios

The founding members each have an inside studio to show their work and create dust-free pieces, and an outdoor workshop for everything else. There are also some outdoor spaces available for guests to rent.

Covered outdoor sculpture workshop

Outdoor workspace

Covered outdoor dining room

Outdoor eating space for community meals

Some members of Tre Luci include have also been featured on Materially Speaking including Jim Hager, Jacob Cartwright and Rita Meier.

Unfortunately Flavia’s show in Florence mentioned in the podcast has come and gone, but for more up-to-date information on her work check out her Instagram @flaviarobalo.


Sound edit and design: Guy Dowsett

Music: all courtesy of Audio Network

  • Stalking Tango 3605/2, Christopher Baron
  • Nazca 2 2518/22, Igor Dvorkin and Ellie Kidd
  • Lost in Contemplation 3 3577/82, David O’Brien and Paul Clarvis

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