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Artemisia

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Elisabetta Cottignola only arrived here from Italy in January this year. ‘I love England,’ she tells me, ‘Especially the countryside. It’s like a garden.’ English people she says have a respect for nature and antiques and are very ‘civil’.

Elisabetta comes from Ravenna, a town famous for being the capital of the Byzantine Western Empire and for its mosaic masterpieces. It is located about one and a half hours from Venice and is the home of the Mosaic Art Institute. Whole studios in Ravenna are dedicated to mosaics but also to Faenza ceramics and Majolica ware.

On 22nd May 2011 Elisabetta opened her shop Artemisia in Stow on the Wold, which currently sells Italian art and sculptures by four different Italian artists.

‘I chose the name Artemisia,’ she tells me, ‘because Artemisia Gentileschi was an Italian painter of 17th century. King Charles I called her to England in order to complete the fresco at the Queen’s House in Greenwich’ (today at Marlborough House in London).

‘She lived in England from 1638 to around 1642 and loved the country very much. During this time she spent two years restoring the fresco and was inspired by some of the painting techniques that influenced many of her most important works. She was one of the first women artists to achieve recognition in the male-dominated world of post-Renaissance art.’

‘On 14th June 2011 Sotheby’s sold one of her paintings (Betsabea at the Bath) in Milan for 216,000 Euros (about £192,857).’

A series of bronzes by Leonardo Lucchi catch my eye first. Inspired by his wife and daughter who both model for him, they have incredible balance. Each bronze is created in a limited edition of eight or even less and Lucchi always ‘corrects’ every copy himself. Prices range from £4,000 to £8,000.

Carlo Zoli is from the school of Faenza Ceramics and each of his works is a one off. They are mythical and fantastical and portray subjects such as unicorns and dragons. He uses gold which reflects in the Majolica and mixes it with other metals. The result is outstanding and unique. His works are for sale at around £180 to £400.

Dusciana Bravura was born in Venice in 1969 and now lives in Ravenna. She is one of the most important Italian mosaic artists of our time, using Murano glass to recreate the designs and mosaics of the Byzantine Empire. Some of her mosaics are small and intended to hang on the wall, but she also creates enormous pieces such as mosaic animals for the garden as well as for parks and hotels.

Finally Elisabetta shows me the Majolica by Gratti’s Ceramic Studio of Faenza. These include a piece called Reflection with gold and platinum which she tells me is not a vase, it’s a sculpture. Some of these works are unique pieces.

At the moment she has no plans to include pictures even though she can restore old paintings. ‘There is not much in Italy at the moment,’ she says and ‘we have a wider choice here in England right now.’

Artemisia is located in Church Street in Stow-on-the-Wold and is open Monday to Saturday 10 am to 5 pm and Sunday 11 am to 4.30 pm. It is closed on Thursday.

Tel: 01451 870286

E-mail: artemisia@btconnect.com

Web: www. artemisiagallery.co.uk