Paint by figures | Paint by figures
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Interesting: History of sculpture in wood

The history of wood carving in Val Gardena has a long and important tradition that dates back to the 16th century. Then, woodworking was a complementary activity that was carried out mainly in the winter months, very long and cold in the Ladin valley. Initially, the Gardian sculptors carved small animals and objects of domestic use that were then exported across the continent. In the years to follow and refined the carving technique, the craftsmen began to make wooden toys and sacred figures as saints. The increasingly skilled hands of the Val Gardena artists developed new styles of workmanship and a very wide range of sacred and profane art. What initially was a pastime for a few people, in 1800 began to become a real job for many inhabitants.
Not only the statues were made by hand with specific chisels, but also painted by the skilled hands of local painters. The wooden figures made were now mainly of a sacred nature: Madonnas , little angels , crucifixes and nativity scenes . It is not by chance that the largest wooden crib in the world is a work created by a group of sculptors from Val Gardena and can be visited all year round at the Iman Center in Santa Cristina in Val Gardena.
The process of industrialization meant that woodwork became more massive, without however influencing the artistic and creative activity of the craftsmen. Even today, in fact, the work done entirely by hand is certified with a mark affixed to the sculpture itself. The Val Gardena artists continue to carve the wooden figures, carrying on this important Ladin cultural tradition.

The most common types of wood used for the art of sculpture and their characteristics

One of the first characteristics that are evident when observing a sculpture or a wooden statue is certainly the raw material in which it is carved: wood.
Especially if you decide to choose an untreated figure, the characteristics of the wood are perfectly recognizable. Among these the color, the veins and last but not least, the perfume stand out.
Below we find the types of wood most used in wood carving and their main characteristics.
Maple
wood Maple wood is a wood frequently used in wood carving as it is particularly soft and allows it to be worked easily. Its color is very clear and ranges from white to yellow. The wood grain is well recognizable. The wood surface is particularly well suited to being polished, lacquered and colored. Maple is a very common plant: it grows in most of Europe, in North America, in Canada and in the Far East.
Linden wood
The lime tree is a whitish and homogeneous wood. It is a fairly light wood and very suitable for precision work such as sculpture, carving, inlaying, turning and making parts of musical instruments. The wood surface is particularly suitable to be treated with colors, waxes and lacquers. The plant is present throughout Europe in two variants, summer and winter, but their woods have very similar characteristics.

The practice of wood carving has its roots in the past

The idea of ​​favoring sculpture as an artistic form is closely linked to the past of Bardonecchia and the Alta Valle Susa. In fact, in our territory, the practice of wood carving has its roots in the past.
The choral lectern of the parish church of Millaures (fraction of Bardonecchia), richly carved and bearing the inscription “MB de MELESETO – 1508” is currently the oldest epigraphic evidence of the existence or origin of the Melezet Fraction of Bardonecchia of artists and / or skilled artisans carvers and sculptors.
Families, dynasties and generations that passed on the art of carving and sculpture in stone and wood, originating from Melezet (as evidenced by the surnames, still present today, of families) and other municipalities and hamlets of the Alta Valle Susa ( or Alta Valle della Dora Riparia) like the Faure dynasty of Thures (fraction of Cesana) which also operated in the Upper Valley, creating valuable wooden works (including altars, retables, sculptures and furnishings).
If the majority of the stone works is almost always signed by the author, it is not the same for the numerous wooden works that still exist in the Upper Valley. They are polychrome statues, also of altars, waterfalls of fruit and flowers, spirals, angels and saints, vine shoots, works by anonymous authors, some of local origin, made with ingenuity and modest workmanship, other times with taste and mastery. The wealth of this local production has meant that some scholars and authors of publication of history, custom in local art, especially at the end of the nineteenth and early twentieth century, have considered possible the attribution of such works to the so-called “School of Melezet”.
So the sculpture is part of the history and tradition of Bardonecchia. The particular usability of this artistic genre, the possibility to place the works in different contexts, both in special spaces and in natural environments, the possibility of acquiring over time works that contribute to the improvement of the urban decor of our city and give it an artistic connotation recognizable, they are additional elements that we have taken into account when thinking about this project.

Tradition of wood carving to snow sculptures

From the school of Melezet, cradle of the history and tradition of wood carving to snow sculptures. Considering that tradition is also to be built in the present, with a multi-year project of sculptures on snow and wood: nature gives an artistic exhibition of itself through the hand of man.

Sculptures on wood

The geographical position and the history make Bardonecchia a place of transit and international culture while the wealth of artistic evidence present in the basin proves the existence of a remarkable transalpine cultural vitality that clearly transpires from many bell towers of the churches belonging to the Provencal architectural area .

In fact, there are 53 religious buildings on the territory: from the five parish churches to the numerous frescoed chapels, to the votive piers scattered throughout the valleys to more than 3000 meters.

These testimonies of popular devotion constitute and contain an artistic and architectural heritage of considerable interest: characteristic bell towers, baroque retables (altar exhibits), fifteenth century frescoes, sculptures and polychrome wooden carvings, baptismal sources and stone carvings, fine furnishings.

Many of the wooden works in the buildings of worship come from the School of Intaglio Melezet: well known already between the fifteenth and seventeenth centuries throughout the Valle di Susa and in the Vallée de la Maurienne, currently continues its work through training courses for children and adults.

The traces of the sculpture are lost in the mists of time

The traces of the sculpture are lost in the mists of time, and its history is linked to the matter that depends on the place and time in which it was operated.Bronze, will be added, the materials that have been used the most are stone and wood, although in some places such as Africa, Greece, China and Rome.
The use of the two materials will be very similar to France, while the Mediterranean areas, where it was easy to find sandstones, porphyry, marble and granite, favored the stone material. The earliest examples of craftsmanship can be seen in the silica stone carved as furniture, it is certain that the evolution of the technique of sculpture has been very slow and many procedures were extremely tiring. For example, for polishing, finishing and polishing, sand was rubbed with force on the edges of the product.
Later copper and bronze tools were invented and later iron. Only then could the stone be better worked. This happened about 6,000 years ago at the dawn of the Egyptian and Babylonian civilization. In today’s Europe, the Greeks were the guardians of this and the Romans and Italians. It was therefore in the Mediterranean that the concept of carving of the stone was developed as the maximum aspiration of sculpture. Later this concept was transmitted throughout Europe until it is still valid today.
The profession of sculptor required a long apprenticeship it will be for a long time from its manual skills and mechanicality so much that it is not considered an art until the advent of Michelangelo. When he was still a young man, Michelangelo told his father that he wanted to be a sculptor, he was displeased and replied firmly that he would not allow his son to become a stonemason. Fortunately, thanks to the intercession of Lorenzo the Magnificent, the story will be different. This anecdote, however, makes us understand the difference between an architect, a mason or a sculptor. The term sculptor in the sense of an artistup to the Middle Ages the Latin term artifex and the term operarius (which means worker), were used indiscriminately.