Sicilian ceramicist Patrizia Italiano draws inspiration from the magical island of Filicudi, where she creates whimsical, colourful and expressive characters and creations. Her work pays ode to the island’s colours, smells, landscapes and sunsets.
Each piece is lovingly hand-crafted with time-honoured traditions and embodies elements of nature and everyday life in Sicily, reinterpreted her way.
We’re coveting every piece in Patrizia’s recent capsule collection created just for us.
We love your colourful and expressive ceramics. Where did your life as a ceramicist start and how has it evolved?
I have a vivid memory from my childhood, where once a year we would visit a great-aunt at the Benedictine Convent in Catania. She was the superior of the convent, a cloistered nun: a discipline that did not allow her to leave the Monastery.
She taught pottery to the children of the convent school. On our visits I remember a large wooden table 20 metres long, exploding with florals, colours, tools and clay. I was endlessly fascinated with it all and touched everything, exploring the clay with my little hands.
Later in high school I began to attend ceramic workshops in Sicily. I learned to work on the lathe, to glaze and pass colours. I was fascinated by everything, the designs of the Sicilian tradition, the techniques, the other creators and where I lived.
After high school I attended university and completed a thesis on ceramics. I joined an association of artists and craftsmen and we were housed in a building in the historic centre of Palermo, where each artist worked independently on a discipline. These were wonderful years full of energy, talent and creativity. After only a couple of years I then opened my own small independent studio.
How do you describe the style of your work?
My ceramics are very contemporary, but inspired by the culture and traditions of Sicily and the Mediterranean. I’m endlessly inspired by the colours of the Palermo markets, the greens and browns of my beloved Filicudi Island with its blue-green sea that suddenly turns deep, dark blue. The pink of the sheep grazing in the Sicilian countryside, the fiery red of the volcanoes of Sicily, and the acid green of the prickly pears burned by the sun. The scent of freshly picked mandarins and lemons, the rustle of summer fig leaves. The faces of the sellers and the peasants and the smiles of the women looking out from the baroque balconies. In summary, the little corner of the world I know and love.
What materials do you work with and what does your design process look like?
I work with different types of clay and I enjoy experimenting with new objects and different glazes and crystallines.
The creative vision often comes at night… and then I can't sleep and I sit and draw my ideas in colour, adjusting the lines, erasing and editing, tearing and often starting again. And then I create characters and give them names like Carmelina, Calogero, Totuccio and Filomena! As I work I hear the donkeys, the sheep, the hens… and, before I know it, morning has arrived!
How does your environment, where you live and how you live inspire your creations?
I live in one of the most beautiful countries in the world and Sicily brings me so much joy. It is biodiverse, unspoilt and colourful. I am lucky and I am grateful every day for being able to enjoy the beauty and culture that surrounds me.
Is there a favourite place you go to get inspiration?
My second home is Filicudi, a small Mediterranean island facing Sicily in the archipelago of the seven Aeolian islands. Many inspirations are born here, where the beauty of nature and the intensity of the clear sea and shades ranging from green to deep blue surround me. I am always amazed by nature - the colours and shapes of the rocks on the sea and the views of the island from above. Beauty in the richness of nature in Filicudi is what feeds my inspiration.
What do you want people to feel when people discover and use your pieces in their homes?
I am happy when one of my ceramics fills the house with joy, warms it, keeps others company.
Have you got any favourite pieces in your recent collection for Fenton & Fenton?
Yes, I love the dishes made with rough fireclay, where the glaze stretches to smooth the piece, as if there were two souls. Lemon, Prickly Pear and Strawberry are my new faves. All inspired by the colours of the fruit in the markets I visit daily.
When you are not creating and making, what will we find you doing?
There are many families, friends and loved ones to spend time with. We drink aperitifs, dance into the evenings, enjoy long swims in the sea, followed by boat rides, we take walks on the mule tracks, create recipes in the kitchen, and visit workshops and exhibitions of other artists. It’s an idyllic life.
Shop the full Patrizia Italiano collection here
Read about Lucy's visit to Patrizia's studio in Palermo here