Ciao! Hello! Welcome to the first in a series of accounts from Farmboy’s recent art adventures in Rome, where we had a rare glimpse into the studios of some of the city’s top artisans to share with you.
It was during a trip to Rome to meet 28 of the city’s best artisans—debatably the world’s best—that I got to touch the World Cup. On that particular evening, we had the pleasure of meeting Dante Mortet, who invited me and several international delegates to his busy studio on the Via de Portoghesi in Rome. He greeted us in true Italian fashion wearing an impeccably tailored suit, protected by a work overcoat, while chiselling away at a silver shepherd’s staff for the Bishop of Rome. Yes, the Pope. On a nearby table, amongst various stone objects and wax casts, was a replica of the World Cup—one of many replicas he has made for various soccer legends.
Mortet’s workshop is littered with signed photos of celebrities whose hands and feed he has cast. Mohammad Ali and Angelica Houston are just two of many Hollywood celebs who have owned his work. Mortet is obsessed with hands as artwork, something that stems from seeing his father’s dirty, hard-working hands every day as a child. Mortet realized early on that the reason his family could afford to eat was because his father, Aurelio, worked with his hands for a living. Hence, Mortet has created a special ongoing project casting hands, Mano Artigiana, to reinforce the importance of artisanal labour and of passing artistic knowledge and cultural traditions from one person to another, generation to generation.
Motet’s workshop is linked to a French family of chiselers and goldsmiths who trained in Florence in the late 19th century and have passed their knowledge of these crafts onto six consecutive generations of artisans. The works are never mass produced, but are made to order. For more information, visit the website of Bottega Mortet. Or to learn more about Mortet’s Mano Artigiana (Artisanal Hands), visit the project website. You can also see the artists in action by following us on Instagram @farmboyfinearts.
‘Farmboy in Roma’ is blog series by FBFA Senior Designer, Fatima Travassos, which offers readers a rare glimpse into the studios of some of Rome’s top artisans. A special thank you to the Italian Chamber of Commerce of Western Canada for offering FBFA the opportunity to participate in this experience.