Just a big oak wood log, as in Pascoli’s poem, all around the peasants would pour wine into the glasses. Nowadays just a wood log, or even less than that, and a little color in expert hands becomes a house… a shelter for sparrows and swallows. A thought of concern in these cold days and a feeling of tenderness in the spirit of Christmas. It’s the fortunate idea by Loredana and Maurizio Betti. Let us know more about you two: who are you? What about your sensitiveness.
There is no denying that the poetry of the land where we live and work has highly influenced us. The Romagna region is a place where the peasant traditions are strongly rooted, here we stare at the moon with eyes always full of wonder. We were both born in Rimini, but have different education. My husband Maurizio is the son of a restorer and he learnt in his father’s workshop the art of restoration and handicraft. I, Loredana, attended the Liceo Artistico in Rimini, then I moved to Bologna, where I studied at the Beaux Arts Academy and at DAMS – artistic Bachelor.
How was the first birdhouse concretely conceived?
Cippanico was the name of the birdie that first inspired Maurizio. He used to fly freely within the workshop and keep him good company hopping from one shoulder to the other, while he was working.
When Maurizio had built the birdhouse, Cippanico initially looked at it with suspicion, but in a few months, the birdhouse began that little winged friend true home. There was a small porch, from which it would be observing the workshop guests, a birdfeeder, where it used to take refreshment. There was also a “sleeping quarter” in the back, where Cippanico used to spend the night waiting for the workshop to open the following morning. Since his childhood, Maurizio has been cultivating his passion about ornithology, that had made him wish a winged friend.
Wood is off the essence, but the recovery of discarded materials is important, too… Which strange object or piece of object have you found and what kind of inspiration has it given you”?
Several out-of-use objects, pots, pans, jugs and kettles have inspired the creation of what we have called the “Garden of Necessity”. It was customary here in Romagna, but even in the whole Italy, to employ old aluminum pots as vases for plants. It takes a lot of care, plenty of patience in order to re-create, give a new life to ruined objects, and we favor the most ancient ones with handles in riveted brass or bakelite. We decorate them in soft shades and we refine them to be resistant.
The garden and outdoor furniture, where a big role is played by birdhouses, actually includes a lot more…
Yes, in fact among the other pieces the Gazott stand out. They are garden statues in the shape of big sparrows, hand molded with cement mortars of our creation. Some of them “wear” a cap in order to grow plants in it, some others are basis decorated with flowers, leaves, acorns.
From whom this idea, this inspiration?
It was Maurizio’s idea, it came as a memory of one of his childhood favorite games, made of earth and fantasy, when, beside his grandfather, a gardener, he enjoyed molding little sparrows with mud-clay.s
For creating a peculiar, fine piece, it is required a perfect handicraft skill besides a very special talent: qualities that you have more widely expressed in the restorative and decorative art inside apartments and villa with ornaments on ceilings, walls, fireplaces… alike those where the wood logs were once burning.
I’m specialized in decorative painting. I’ve made cycles of pictorial decorations in historic mansions: each time I’ve taken inspiration from the history of the location, of the building, of the town. My works are tales of true life, be they portrayed on damask fabrics or bas-reliefs with a girl’s visage among acanthus leaves, or even tromps l’oeil of villages at sunset, draped ceilings or ancient chinoiserie.
Precious ornaments, vintage classical art? I believe you are very popular on the handicraft market.
Plenty of subjects and hints come from the Past, always agreed upon with the client, thanks to a precise development of in scale sketches. In particular I’ve worked together with the Superintendence of Fine Arts in order to restore some decors inside the historic mansion of the Princes Torlonia at San Mauro Pascoli, the place named after the famous Poet.
Your workshop is based in Santarcangelo di Romagna, a truly peculiar location, but during the lockdown have you considered any other new kind of approach to business, maybe online?
First and foremost, I’d like to remember the wonderful staging of the Garden of Necessity, which Maurizio and I have presented at Grazzano Visconti in the park of the Villa once owned by Luchino Visconti. It has been an extraordinary way to celebrate the Centennial of the birth of the great Tonino Guerra.
Our workshop in Santarcangelo? Well, it has a special soul, whoever comes and visit it feels enchanted, it’s a world, where Marvel reigns. A few visitors now can be admitted, that’s why we have designed a website, just alike our workshop: it seems like entering there, wandering among our most beautiful and diverse creations: they are nests, aviaries for all kinds of birds, statues of small sparrows, little mushrooms, enormous chestnuts. They are watercolors paintings depicting robins and chickadees, but also items of furniture, precious consoles, upstands for tables, all elaborately handcrafted…of course!!!
Then, what about your website?
For the moment, you can find us on www.labottegadibetti.com. But we are also on Instagram and Facebook.