In Sardinia, the production of artistic ceramics was developed in the 1920’s subsequent to the efforts of painters and sculptors and to the establishment of the first art schools (School of decorative art in Oristano directed by Francesco Ciusa in 1920 – The Ceramic art laboratory in Cagliari founded by Federico Melis in 1927) and continues to date.
For many centuries, in spite of the influence of the succession of rules present on the island, the manufacturing of articles was limited to objects destined for practical use, such as drinking water jugs, large cooking pans, mixing bowls, recipients for food and storage jars, whilst the creation of decorative jugs and vases was kept for particular occasions.
During the middle ages the corporations of jug makers (known as "gremi") enforced a regulation, according to which the original forms were not to be modified and the production was to be limited to only a few examples (1692, Statute of the Alfareros). If on the one hand this ensured the maintaining of the original traditional forms, on the other hand it considerably limited the creative skill of the craftsmen and hampered the introduction of their goods into a commercial environment.
Today the main centres for production of ceramics are concentrated in Assemini and the Cagliari hinterland. Towns characterised by a particularly ancient tradition in this field include Oristano, Pabillonis, Dorgali, Sassari and Siniscola.
The production of a wide array of traditional containers particularly suited to functional and practical uses, is complemented by the creation of modern ornamental objects made by ceramists applying innovative techniques and decorations based on typical regional themes such as the Nuragic and pre-Roman civilisations, the decorations used in breadmaking, the local fauna, etc.
MATERIALS AND TECHNIQUES
Abundant sources of the large variety of raw materials used (clay and kaolin) have been available throughout Sardinia since ancient times, although more recently imported materials have also been used. The clay is moulded either by hand or on a wheel and then left to dry naturally. Traditionally the objects were baked in a wood-fired kiln which has since been replaced by the more efficient modern electric kilns.
Two styles of decorations were applied: relief and slatted.
The colours are obtained through use of natural coloured soils, through the application of grains of galena or through the emulsifying of vapours from aromatic essences present in the Mediterranean vegetation and testify the remarkable practical experience of the craftsmen and their skill in making use of the limited supplies available.