What can Europe do to protect crafts?

by AKSSISE Fatiha / Mad’in Europe

Craftsmanship: a key sector for the strengthening of European identity

The European Union has made of unity and cooperation one of its pillars to build a European identity. In this perspective a « Europe Day », celebrated on 9 May, was introduced in 1985 to celebrate « unity and peace in Europe ». This is reflected through cohesion policies and programs in different fields. Thus, craftsmanship is one of these key sectors in which actions took place in order to implement a pan-European identity. The question that arises is: how can we define crafts in the European context? In other words, how craftsmen contribute to the creation of a European identity and how do they identify with it.

Europe as a continent is composed of a rich variety of languages and cultures which are the result of a rich historical past. As a consequence, we cannot talk about a specific « European craft » but instead about different approaches to crafts which makes it difficult to define it. Let us focus for example on the ceramics. There are significant differences from a country to another in terms of  techniques, designs and decoration of ceramic. Italy, a leading country in the production of ceramic pottery, is broadly influenced by Renaissance artistic movement. 

It presents a wide variety of pottery among which we can cite the « Impruneta » which is a pottery  known for the special composition of the clay that gives it a particular red color and for the references to the roman art. 

Impruneta 1
Typical « Impruneta » ceramic vases Source : https://www.terrecottemital.it/
Impruneta2 1
Photo of Francesco del Bravo representing Impruneta ceramic statues on the terrace of the Villa Corsini south of Florence.  

Similarly, Spanish and Portuguese’s design and decoration of ceramics are highly inspired by Arabic art as both countries were conquered by the Moors in the second half of the 8th century. In Portugal it is especially the Azulejos tiles technique which hints to the Arabic art: its pottery and ceramic tile flooring present typical arabesques motifs and geometric shapes. Spain ceramics on the other hand are marked by the mudéjar style ceramic which also refers to the moroccan and berber art. 

Example of Azulejos on ceramic tile flooring.

Photo of Fernando Malo showing a ceramic amphora decorated with typical mudéjar motifs.

Nowadays craftsmen are still inspired by these artistic movements and contribute on their own to the perpetuation and safeguarding of this cultural heritage. In an era broadly marked by globalization and a sort of homogenization of culture, diversification of crafts can make a difference. Encouraging and supporting local craftsmen is fundamental as it will enhance the beauty of European identity making it unique.

Source : https://www.shutterstock.com/fr/image-vector/talavera-pattern-indian-patchwork-azulejos-portugal-1127522039

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