This post is also available in: Italian

On via Munari, one of the four main roads leading to the cathedral piazza in Nove, the traditional centre of ceramics in north east Italy, there is an elegant set of timber framed glass doors in the face an oldish town house.

On the left hand door is a sign ’Ceramiche Aperto’ (Ceramics Open). Ring the bell and you will probably be greeted and invited to enter by a smiling lady, the proprietor of Ceramiche Dal Prà, Rita Dal Prà, or her daughter, Valentina Meneghini.

Entering you come from a street world of ordinariness to a veritable personal museum of art ceramic ware of wonderful forms and colours from the most modern concepts back to the traditional painted urns of 100 and more years ago. The widest range you could conceive, so that many objects are missed on the first scan; beautiful deep water corals on shining black stands, wonderfully hand-painted vases and lamps, dinosaurs in gold, shaped green bushes and trees – every leaf hand created, and some enchanting miniature Italian Gardens.

These model garden masterpieces were first created by the grandfather and founder (in 1897) of this traditional ceramic art house and these sets are collected by lovers of fine ceramic models around the world as centerpiece to adorn elegant dinner.

When your gaze shifts to the left there stands an old refractory brick furnace housing more pieces of the collection. We are told there are two more furnaces standing on top of this one, all were ‘fired’ at the same time, one assumes with some fuel savings for the upper two. It is then that we are invited to visit the upper two levels of this fine ceramic house, the building just as it was in 1900, the top level of the furnace ’stack’ carrying a beam that supports the roof.

While we talk, I gaze around the large open space, filled with ceramic art from four generations and I count over twenty soup tureens on one set of shelves, every one different, even one white tureen with three platinum frogs as the handle on the lid – something for every possible taste. There are many thousands of items to create joy for the collector, home décor at the table for an elegant dinner, or to enhance a fine lounge room.

Every two years a new catalogue is produced with the latest designs to add to the plethora of unique designs from the past. For the buyer from far away, this catalogue may be enough, others may visit Ceramiche Dal Prà at one of the fine living exhibitions such as Maison et Objet, but for the lover of ceramic art and pottery, a visit to the showroom and family museum is an essential part of your tour of the Venice area.

On bidding farewell and stepping back though the door to re-enter the street, I feel that I have come from a ‘magic’ ceramic land, I had entered through the ‘wardrobe’ into a home and workshop of griffins, lions and ‘which-what’, and witnessed a fantastic history of life through the eyes of designers, ceramic artists and artisans. I trust that it will all still be there just as I saw it when next time I enter the ‘wardrobe’, because this is real ceramic art.

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Gavin Tulloch

Scienziato e poeta. Ama la chimica, il vino, le donne e l’opera, ma non sappiamo in quale ordine


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