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Tile Tuesday: The Inspiration of Antiquity

Welcome Tile Tuesday! This is the first installment of a series inspired by my discoveries exploring Seville and Valencia, Spain with Tile of Spain. Not only did we attend Cevisama, the renowned trade fair showcasing the best of the Spanish tile industry, we also explored two cities, their history, culture and architecture with two very passionate local architects.

Centro Ceramica Triana, layers of time, saving and honoring what came before
Centro Ceramica Triana, layers of time, saving and honoring what came before

Along the way I learned a lot about ceramic tile in general and that was one of my goals for this trip. Each Tuesday I will be sharing something interesting about tile and the cities we visited. Ceramic tile is the product of the culture in which it is made. Whether you’re talking 1300s or today, tile really is an artefact of the time in which it was produced.

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Even the examples we saw of cutting edge 21st century Spanish tile manufacturers such as Peronda, Inalco, Aparici and more have their roots in a much older tradition. What better place to begin than at the beginning. Our adventure started in Seville with a visit to Centro Ceramica Triana, a ceramic museum which was once a tile factory.

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Portion of a hand painted mural as seen in the Centro Ceramica Triana. What secret is he keeping?

 

Several years ago the city of Sevilla wisely decided to preserve and showcase the old Santa Ana Ceramic Factory, which itself was built upon centuries old prior factories.

Last year it was opened to the public. What intrigued me the most is that this museum is a structure consisting of layers. You can find antiquity dating back to  the 16th century on the bottom followed my those of the following centuries above it. Architecture is honored. What has come before is respected and preserved. The new lives together with the old throughout Spain and this museum is a perfect example of that.

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This modern contemporary building seemingly grows out of the ancient structure below, a metaphor for the industry itself.

 

Run by Enrique Rodgriguez Garcia, Santa Ana was still a productive factory up until the seventies. They survived up until that point selling all genres of ceramics including murals, shop signs, pottery, lettering, and religious items. Garcia passed away in 2005 but has left his artisan legacy to his descendants.

Antonio Kiernam Flores in painting workshop of the Ceramica Santa Ana Factory 1961
Antonio Kiernam Flores in painting workshop of the Ceramica Santa Ana Factory 1961

Ceramics provided a practical and lucrative way to create signage
Ceramics provided a practical and lucrative way to create signage

The barrio of Triana sits on the banks of the River Guadalquivir. The ceramic industry, which dates back to Roman times,  grew here, in this neighborhood, due to the proximity of natural clay resources. In addition, it is interesting to note that most ceramic glazes come from Spain.    This film, by Direccion TVArq,  gives you a real feel for the space, outlining the blend between the modern museum and the antiquity revealed below. Note the original 16th century kilns and if you are fortunate enough to speak Spanish you will hear about the history of the site and the process of creating the current museum.

Azulejo tile
Azulejo tiles are hand-painted, tin-glazed ceramic tilework found on the interior and exterior of churches, palaces, ordinary houses, schools, and nowadays, restaurants, bars and even railways or subway stations. They were not only used as an ornamental art form, but also had a specific functional capacity like temperature control in homes. This originally Arabic technique has been practiced in Sevilla since the 13th century.

This beautiful artifact is an example of an Artista tile.
This beautiful artifact is an example of an Arista tile.

There are many ways to form and decorate clay to create ceramic tile.  Niculoso Francisco Pisano, born and trained in Italy, lived and worked in Triana in the early 1500s. He devised a way of mass producing tiles.  This is piece circa 1529 is one of the examples from his workshop.

Just think of all that was produced in this kiln dating back hundreds of years!
Just think of all that was produced in this kiln dating back hundreds of years!

Ceramic tile is a creation of clay, earth, water, air and fire, a perfect balance of elements.  I felt a soulfulness about this place, a passion for artisanship that lingers.

Next Tile Tuesday: A look at Metropol Parasol,  feat of engineering or folly?

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Gloria Graham-Sollecito

Gloria is a kitchen and bath cabinetry designer with AKBD certification from the National Kitchen & Bath Association. She has also served on the Florida Treasure Coast Chapter's Board of Directors as the VP of Communications. Her work has appeared on This Old House as well as in Florida Design Magazine, K+BB Magazine and the Palm Beach Post. She is co-author of The Complete Idiots Guide to Remodeling Your Kitchen, Illustrated, as well as a freelanced writer contributing occasionally to the Sun Sentinel in the area of kitchen design. She is a proud member of the Blanco Design Council and the illustrious Brizo Blogger 19.

Comments

Mom/Yvonne

Have so enjoyed reading and viewing first installment of Tile Tuesday! Seeing designs of ceramic tiles, and learning that tile-making goes back to Roman times and descriptions of visits to museums/tile factories etc. Looking forward to subsequent installments of Tile Tuesday.

Congrats on so ably sharing what you experienced!

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