Art & Photography

Shrewd Hands

Among all the art at last month’s Venice Biennale sat a new project from Tod’s, celebrating the city’s long history of craftsmanship.

Alongside their support of the Italian national pavilion at the exhibition, Tod’s invited a number of Venetian craftsman to work around and with their iconic Gommino in their own disciplines; from glassblowing to millinery.

Those 11 artists, in full: Roberto Beltrami, glassblower; Romauld Mesdagh & Alessandra Di Gennaro, mosaic makers; Giuliana Longo, hat artisan; Gianpaolo Fallani, screen printer; Marino Menegazzo & Mario Berta Battiloro, goldbeaters; Matteo Seguso, Glass Engraver; Piero Dri E Saverio Pastor, who works with forcolas (traditional Venetian rowlocks); Lucio Bubacco, lamp worker; Sergio Boldrin, mask maker; Federica Marangoni, visual artist and sculptor; and Sebastiano Lundardelli, wood artisan.

Federica Marangoni’s work, placed outside the exhibition

There are plenty of ways to see the pairing as a fitting one. Tod’s history in Italian crafts runs nearly as long as the art exhibition itself – founded more than a hundred years ago. Chairman Diego Della Valle, explains that Venice’s place in history as a home of Italian craftsmanship made it a perfect place to commemorate what he sees as “fundamental vales of the Tod’s universe”. Post-biennale, Tod’s are commemorating the city with a new collection, including a deep blue and bright red Gommino, linking back to the city and its history of craft.

Roberto Beltrami’s work– a delicate reconstructed replica
Sergio Boldrin’s final piece

Every other year, artists descend on the city to add another link in the long chain of its artistic history; building on what’s come before in often inventive and unexpected ways. Tod’s parallel project this year aimed to extend that vision to a similar icon – a footwear staple older than many of the artists exhibiting. The best works know which parts of a long heritage to pay homage to and which ones to play around with.