The Perfect Union
Every year in the coldest weeks of the winter season, strange sculptures begin to appear in the fields all over the island. It is the moment for grafting.
Wild olive trees grow throughout the island and they produce perfectly tiny olives with a thin and bitter skin. However, though the oil from wild olives is supposedly superior to that of domesticated varieties, the yield is much, much lower. And so the grafting game begins. Wild olive trees grow throughout the island and they produce perfectly tiny olives with a thin and bitter skin. However, though the oil from wild olives is supposedly superior to that of domesticated varieties, the yield is much, much lower. And so the grafting game begins.
Studiopepe and Karmine Piras
Sardinia is an island of contrasts. It is rocky and dry in the summers: punishingly hot, seemingly made of only stone and dust and scorched thistles. During the winters, it becomes lush and quiet. It provides a wealth of spontaneous herbs, wild orchids, gentle valleys, full moons and an array of greens that suggest an eternal spring.
The prehistoric Nuragic peoples made their temples of stone on this island. Their homes, their burial grounds, their meeting places were all made from stone. It is a material that is both bountiful and revered. These homes for meditation and prayer are found today buried in the countryside, on the sides of unassuming hills or within groves of overgrown cork trees. Often, at first glance, they seem like inadvertent piles of stones; however the trained eye is able to quickly pick out alcoves for ritual offerings, the base of an overflowing sacred well, the carved spirals of the afterlife.
Left: The bronze gets heated in a stone cauldron before being poured into the molds. Right: each sculpture is shaped from a block of basalt stone.
Inspired by the depth and silence of the Sardinian countryside, Studiopepe has created Perdas Fittas, a collection that celebrates the sacrality of Sardinian stone and the healing power of water. These miniature mountains, sculpted by hand from compact basalt from the plateau of Paulilatino, recreate the majestic and mysterious nature of the island. On each sculpture perch small bronze vessels for our modern offerings of fire or scented waters or unguents.
Each of the bronze receptacles was cast by the ancient practice of sand-casting by Karmine Piras in his workshop. Piras has studied experimental archeology for decades in collaboration with local museums and the Region of Sardinia. He has mastered various techniques of bronze casting which the Nuragic peoples used millennia ago to make their acclaimed Bronzetti sculptures. Sand-casting is the oldest of these methods in which a shape must be hand-sculpted, then used to form moulds in packed earth. Finally the melted bronze is poured into the casts, refinished and hand-polished.
The vessels in their raw form before being finished and polished.
Basalt, on the other hand, is a stone unearthed whole. Boulders like gargantuan pebbles, with dusty, mossy skins. Split open they reveal worlds of trapped gasses within velvet gray stone. They are misshapen marbles of cooled lava, buried deep in the dirt for us to discover. Here, the stone becomes a miniature version of its original shape, an archetype, shaped by invisible hands into the memory of its natural self.
Placed together, the elements are as if reunited. They remind us of a gospel we know by memory without reading. They repeat back to us our own belief in the world around us - wind, water, stone. And they give us the hope of balance and forgiveness in our future.
Perdas Fittas is a limited edition set of sculptures made from hand-sculpted basalt stone and hand-shaped & cast bronze cups.