The Magazine about Sorrento Peninsula
Categories Culture

Faith in craftsmanship

He has been the first to exhibit a work of art next to Michelangelo’s Crucifix in the Basilica of the Holy Spirit in Florence. His signature is also on the sculpture that accompanied the synod on family in 2015. Marcello Aversa turned from a brick producer into one of the best ceramic artists in Italy. His association, PeninsulArt, preserves the craftsmanship tradition in Sorrento.
A mission that is far from easy.
«In a mass tourist destination, craftsmen’s workshops run the risk of being overpowered by restaurants, pubs, night clubs and so on. Therefore, together with other 30 colleagues, I work to pass my passion for craftsmanship onto the youth, to keep ancient traditions alive».
Who was your master?
«I am a completely self-taught artisan. I was born in the ovens of Maiano, the Sant’Agnello old town that is famous for brick production. I worked in my family’s factory until I discovered that I was able to model clay. Thus, I abandoned bricks and I dedicated myself to shape small figures of the Neapolitan nativity, all of them from 0.30 to 1.19 inches in size».
Did you achieve success right away?
«At the beginning, I offered my creations to shopkeepers in Naples, who considered them ugly or too small. The first to appreciate them were Giuseppe Piezzo and Ermanno D’Auria. Then I started to shape whole terracotta nativities and figures up to 5.5 inches, apart from modelling the Good Friday’s processions and various scenes of local life».
Your works often feature the topic of Life defeating Death. Why?
«The reading of holy scriptures made me understand that, without His crucifixion, Jesus would have been forgotten. Instead, his death and resurrection make us believe that there is something else after earthly life. My works try to convey this extraordinary message».
As in Vita Semper Vincit, located in the Sant’Anna dei Lombardi complex in Naples, and in Sorrento’s Cathedral.
«It is a sculpture composed by around 40 thousand pieces including leaves, flowers, branches and characters from the Old and New Testament, symbolizing the triumph of life over death. I am fond of this topic also because it is the legacy of a combination of history, faith and art characterizing the Sorrento Coast and my old town of Maiano in particular».