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Adelina Egido demonstrating her beautiful craft of lace making

Adelia Egidio making lace

I have just returned from the Avellino area in italy, a visit which was part of the Sustainable Crafts Initiative under the umbrella of the E U’s Lifelong Learning programme, The Leonardo Project. I travelled as one of the U.K. contingent with Heather Parker, Craft Manager and Emily Walsh, Arts Officer from Ards Borough Council. We met up with the other partners from Finland, Ireland, Italy and Spain to  experience a very busy, interesting and hospitible few days, courtesy of our hosts from CONFORM, in Avellino. A big thankyou to il Dottore Alphonso, Brunello, Nunzia and Monica for making our visit so enjoyable.

We experienced first hand many of the local “craft” industries including wine and cheese making, lace making, wrought ironwork, two kinds of ceramic production and straw craft. (Alas no glass!) A visit to il Professore di Guglielmo’s studio was a wonderful oppotunity to see a wood artist’s workshop and current exhibition as well as meeting someone so in tune with the natural world and a tremendous ability for self expression.

Our many hosts in Calitri and environs were exceptionally kind but none more than the family and friends of the Marena Wrought Iron Works. Here, not only did we see the factory producing its many varied products but we were treated to a great variety of tasty wines and eats. The highlight however was the entertainment provided by a wonderful elderly gentleman who sang and played the guitar for us!

The area we visited is very mountainous and is not very far away from the famous Vesuvius. In the early 1980’s it suffered two major earthquakes which brought death and destruction to this most scenic of places. There is still much evidence to this day with much rebuilding still needed.The recession has affected this area very badly and it is indeed a top priority area for EU funding. Hopefully all the amazing skills we saw being practiced by these talented and friendly people wll continue to flourish through these difficult times. During our visit, there was a crisis in the local Fiat factory, a direct result of the recession. The Chairman, S. Cosimo Siblia at the local Job Centre, expressed his concerns for the area’s economic growth.