Every last weekend of May, or the first weekend of June the city of Carrara in northern Tuscany hosts a special art event called Carrara Studi Aperti. During the festival, strolling around downtown, visitors have the opportunity to discover the secret ateliers of more than 180 artists.
If you guess why a small town like Carrara could houses so many different artists coming from all over the world, there are at least two reasons. The first is that Carrara is the world capital for the extraction and processing of marble. The second is that Carrara hosts the National Academy of Fine Art, which has a lot of appeals to emerging artists.
During the two days of the exhibit, all artists will open the doors of their private studios, giving visitors the opportunity to admire their masterpieces and the way they work. And they will be happy to tell the story of their life.
If you have never experienced the Carrara Studi Aperti event before, I recommend you to visit at least the special workshop called Ponte di Ferro, a fantastic location just out from downtown. A friend of mine, Marco Pedri introduced me to this place and it really worth it.
What you cannot miss at Carrara Studi Aperti
Ponte di Ferro Workshop
The name “Ponte di Ferro” (Iron Bridge), takes its origins from the dismissed rail bridge made of iron that overlooks the workshop area. For all the locals, this place is a symbol of a past industrial Era that doesn’t exist anymore.
Between 1876 and 1964, a special railway system transported people and heavy marble blocks extracted from nearby marble quarries downstream.
The industrial area under the big bridge once hosted a stone processing factory. After many years of a complete state of abandonment, the building was occupied by some emerging artists. Today, with hard work, they brought a new life to the complex. The building retains its original industrial look but has been converted into a co-working space for artists and an area for annual events and special exhibitions.
Corrado Marchese: one of the artists of Carrara Studi Aperti
During the Carrara Studi Aperti 2015 edition, I met Corrado Marchese, one of the founders of Ponte di Ferro, which introduced me to his wonderful sculptures that I immediately loved.
The style of Corrado Marchese expresses the ability to blend the intimate sense of the artist with social themes into the stone, taking inspiration from his favorite music genders such as punk rock, hardcore, rock n roll, reggae, ska, and blues. His sculptures always send messages of social protest with the characteristic elegance of masters of art such as Michelangelo, Donatello, Bernini, and Vangi. The delicacy of details such as flowers and juvenile feet represents this grace.
One of my favorite sculptures is titled “Do you wanna dance”, taking inspiration from the song played by the Ramones. Here, I clearly read the sacrifice of dancers to reach the goal of perfection in their execution, expressed by the dancer’s shoes surrounded by the flowers of glory and by the big bones on the sides.
Staring at the Tin Soldier instead, I read another sacrifice. While in the work called “Do you wanna dance”, sacrifice leads to something positive such as perfect execution, here sacrifice is a consequence of wars in which children are used as soldiers (the helmet). Even the young hands holding flowers confirm this message. The music track with the same title by Stiff Little Fingers inspired the young artist to create this artwork.
If you love art and sculpture, I would not miss this opportunity to explore Carrara visiting the studios along the river Carrione or hidden somewhere in town. I cannot wait to attend the next edition of Carrara Studi Aperti, see you there!