Discover Uccio Matera Lab’s papier-maché

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What craft do you work with?

I work mainly with pottery and papier-maché. The latter is closely linked to our local and century-old tradition in which an about 5-metres tall papier-maché chariot is built every year and then destroyed. One of the key symbolic elements is the little angel, whose process you can check out this video tutorial.

If you are curious to learn more about the creative process behind papier-maché, check out the material card “Papier-maché little angel”.

Photo credits: Anna Barbaro La Fabbrica del Carro | annabarbaro (annanah.wixsite.com)

What inspires you to work with this craft?

I’ve been dreaming of this job since I was a child and I’ve been making small papier-maché sculptures since I was a young. I still feel very passionate about it because my job was born pursuing a dream: leveraging crafts to help disadvantaged people and helping them make their dreams come true.

I strive to apply the integral sustainability approach to what I do, for example by using paper crafts exceeding from previous works, and by working with disadvantaged people hired by our cooperative. My team also motivates me a lot, and they are what makes my job matter the most.

How do you start your creative process?

The phase I love the most is the conceptual design of the craft pieces, as it allows me to add symbolic meaning to the work thanks to a previous study that also allows me to study proportions.
Probably the most difficult part is when the papier-maché work is finished and we have to colour it by defining its chromatics: this phase concludes the whole creative process and is the longest and most delicate.

Photo credits: Uccio Matera Lab.

How would you best describe your workspace and what tools could you not do without?

My workspace is at the same time a bit messy and tidy, because tools and materials are scattered around but it’s like there is still a certain harmony in how they are distributed in the room. Every tool is fundamental and part of the whole process, but maybe the brushes are those I could not do without. We range them onto low-tech, self-made racks to leave them to dry and keep them handy.

The working atmosphere is always relaxed and happy thanks to my team.

What other types of arts and crafts do you dream of collaborating with?

I would love to keep working with social and territorial animation by spreading the workshops to inner areas and cities, valorising the lesser known arts, crafts and local knowledge, and spotlighting the unknown places and people.

I would love a transdisciplinary experimentation with disciplines like photography, videomaking and so on, as long as I collaborate with artists and people sharing a common visions of social inclusion and human values.

This already sometimes happens, but I would like to push it forward and also to grow under the technical aspect, because I feel that I always can learn and improve.

What professional dream do you have?

I am making my professional dream come true already, so I would just love to keep doing what I do, bringing these inclusive crafts to the inner areas as much as possible, in order to valorise peripheries and marginal areas (both urban and rural), working together with other artists and craftsmen and encouraging the young generations to learn and preserve our crafts.