The ARDIS Festival springs into action this week featuring 40 invite-only exhibitors, talks and workshops by pottery & ceramic experts such as local legend Eduardo Vega. We talked to US expat, Alessandro DeLizza who is exhibiting his work & giving a talk on ‘Throwing Large Textured Pottery’. We wanted to understand more about the festival and why it’s rated so highly amongst ceramicists in South America (& the world).
Let’s get stuck in.
What is the ARDIS Festival?
Alessandro explained the various components of the ARDIS Festival:
“The festival is the last portion of artists week. This year, the focus is on ceramics and pottery. So, during the entire week, Monday through Friday, there will be lectures, meetings, classes & discussions. There are over 40 people from around the world coming in as lecturers and demonstrators for this – I’m one of them, and so is Eduardo Vega.”
He also mentioned that many are looking forward to the demonstration from the Kintsugi Labo ceramicists of Japan that specialize in upcycling broken ceramics using gold to fill in the cracks.
This video shows some artists preparing for the event (must watch on Facebook due to ownership issues).
View the official schedules below:
Talks Schedule: 4 – 7 April
There are 31 talks held from 4th – 7th April. They will mainly be in Spanish. We’ve included the information on each talk below. These images are from the CIDAP Facebook Page.
Sign up for the talks at the CIDAP Website.
Workshop Schedule: 4 – 8 April
Budding ceramicists will get a lot of value from attending the 7 workshops on offer. We’ve included the schedule and information on each individual workshop below.
Sign up for workshops here.
The Design & Craft Fair: 9 – 11 April
Following the talks & demonstrations is the design & craft fair which will be held from Saturday 9th until Monday 11th April inside the CIDAP Museum grounds.
Alessandro is proud to be included among the 40 exhibitors:
“They only invite the top 40 craftspeople in certain areas from within Ecuador & abroad too… To be selected by the jury is quite an honor. They are the top and best that I’ve seen anywhere in the world.”
The central location at CIDAP also provides an intimate opportunity to really talk with the exhibitors & get insights into their art. The exhibitors change every year, but you can expect the following types of crafts at the fair:
- Various ceramicists
- Indigenous masks & baskets
The second night of the design & craft fair (Sunday 10th April) will also have a competition for the best ceramic & pottery piece. There are 5 finalists and you can view these at the CIDAP Museum during, and after, the festival.
Alessandro got quite excited when speaking about the competition:
“They have this incredible event with some music and one year they had models walking around wearing all the competition jewelry.
There’s a big competition for a very valuable medal respected throughout South America. And the grand prize is not only the medal but quite a financial reimbursement as well.”
Burning World Pottery Talk & Exhibit
Alessandro is giving a talk titled ‘Throwing Large Textured Pottery: A Lifelong Love Affair with Clay’.
When: 5:30pm, 5th April
Where: University del Azuay (Sale de Uso Multiple). Av 24 de Mayo 7-77.
What makes Burning World Pottery a little different?
Whilst I appreciate pottery, I really have no idea about the technical differences in styles & techniques that go into it. I suspect most casual visitors to the ARDIS festival are in a similar position, so I thought it would be helpful to dig into some specifics about Burning World Pottery & what we can expect to see at the fair.
Alessandro was kind enough to appease my curiosity:
“What makes my ceramic work a little different? I simply have a different skillset. I’ve had discussions with other potters and with other ceramicists here in Ecuador, and I learned things differently in North America. I’ve apprenticed with similar potters that Eduardo’s son Guillermo has and we all worked in the same areas. But the whole information exchange in North America is different than down here in South America. So my skills are different. That’s all.
I work with imported, clays, porcelains, and stoneware. I mix glazes without a recipe. I mix them by feel like your mother made soup. So I break a lot of the normal rules in pottery.”
Who generally buys your art?
I was a little surprised, and perhaps even a little delighted, to find out that most Burning World Pottery is sold to Ecuadorians.
“90% of it is sold to Ecuadorians… Gringos tend to look at my pottery as more modern and they either walk right by it or have a conversation with me about the pottery class they took one time in college.”
This makes me smile for several reasons. Firstly, it’s very common for expats to start a business and predominantly market only to other expats. Alessandro has bucked this trend. Second, Ecuadorians purchasing pottery from someone that learned their craft in the US is such a lovely artistic & cultural exchange. Especially in a country with so many great ceramicists. And lastly, Allesandro’s tongue-in-cheek comment about his fellow gringos is quite endearing.
He clearly has a deep respect and admiration for Ecuadorian ceramicists, even at his own expense:
“I’d rather see them support the Ecuadorian art.”
Whilst I’m not privy to any of the discussions on why the jury selects the 40 exhibitors each year, I suspect Alessandro’s spirit of international collaboration has helped him to be selected for the past 8 years.
Burning World Pottery you can find at the fair
“The type of ceramics you can expect to find from me will be high-end porcelain & functional stoneware.
I’ve gotten pretty well known for the magic wine cup and magic wine craft. The naked stoneware inside the cup, unglazed, actually neutralizes toxins in red wines. So I’ve got a cup that can keep you a little less hungover in the morning.”
Now, I don’t know what sort of alchemy Alessandro is procuring to make his magic wine cup, but I think I’ve just found Michelle’s next birthday present!
And it looks like I’ll be able to buy one for a very reasonable cost given the price guide he’s provided to us:
- $10 (approx): Multiple items
- $40 – $100: Numerous midrange items including table lamps
- $125 (approx): Bathroom sinks
- $200: One of a kind pieces
You can also expect similar pricing & a wide variety from other ceramicists:
“Many of the ceramicists are in the same price range. There’ll be indigenous work, all the way to some of the most modern ceramic tile work that you’ve ever seen.”
What do you like most about the ARDIS festival?
Alessandro closed the interview by reflecting on the value he gets from attending each year:
“I’m doing North American style work in Ecuador and having a lot of fun with it, as well as exchanging information with all these people. The main thing for me is the people I have met in Cuenca over the last 4 or 5 years. Not only are they some of the best ceramicists in the country, but I’ve gotten to know them and we’ve exchanged information and trades. We visited each other’s shops and I’ve spent hours talking with Vega and he’s coming to my shop for a visit this time.
The ceramic world here is tiny and scattered, but it isn’t much different than the ceramic world I knew in the United States in the seventies. This show is equivalent to Rhinebeck, which was the biggest show anybody could ever do back then in upstate New York.
So I would just encourage your folks to visit the festival.”
I think we’ll do exactly that.