From Writing to Porcelain Painting
Interview with Elisabetta Fioritti
by Maria Teresa De Donato
Today I am very happy to host a friend and colleague-author, Elisabetta Fioritti, an artist as creative as she is multifaceted.
There is a lot to say about her, but, as I usually do, I shall let my guest to reveal herself to our readers.
MTDD: Hi, Elisabetta, and welcome to my Virtual Cultural Salon.
EF: Good morning to you, Maria Teresa, and thank you for offering me this window onto your world.
MTDD: Thanks to you. It is a pleasure. Elisabetta, as I do with all my guests, I would prefer you to introduce yourself to our readers by sharing all the information you want about who you are, your life, your studies, your work, and whatever else you wish to tell us.
EF: I am a person like many others, with my conflicts and uncertainties. I am a mixture of thoughts, aspirations, dreams, inclinations, which have never found a true point of balance. I think this might happen to everyone, but our society imposes roles on us, assigns us labels. Then perhaps, I would define myself as a bit of a writer, a bit of a painter, a bit of a dreamer. Since I was a child, I have always had a double inclination towards writing and drawing. Classical high school opened the world of literature to me and I fell in love with it. I was the one who corrected the papers under the table, perhaps in exchange for a translation into Latin. But inside I always had that unspoken desire to devote myself to art, to creativity. Then I enrolled at the Faculty of Literature, at the University of Turin, moved to Casale Monferrato, and married when I was very young. I could say that I was trained along the way. I studied painting on porcelain with the third fire technique, finding in that pure, candid, shiny substance, the ideal material for my creations. The writing was there, as in an unspoken limbo, it kept me company, it clashed with my shyness and with that typical style of raising children in those days, according to which one had to keep one's emotions to oneself. Then, my inner desire to tell exploded with the publication of my first book, L’odore dei giorni (The smell of the days), partly autobiographical.
MTDD: Although you were born in Puglia, you moved first to Turin and other Piedmontese locations and then to Rome, my hometown, where you settled permanently and still live today.
Was it difficult for you to adapt to so many different places and what were the main obstacles you eventually faced?
EF: I think I am a bit nomadic inside because I have always liked to know new places, different people, traditions, uses, different points of view. I was born in a small town in the province of Foggia, Carlantino, where my father was deputy director in the construction of a dam, the Occhito Dam. I talk about it in my first book, which was my authentic training, three years of my childhood completely immersed in nature and in dreams. Like Pavese, an author I loved very much, I carry within me that being born in a country and that shaped my soul. In a city like Rome, which nevertheless welcomed me warmly, and which remains one of the most beautiful cities in the world, I feel disoriented, it is not my authentic dimension. In my wanderings through Italy, I built my little intimate treasure, unparalleled. Not understandable to those who were born and lived in the same city of origin for a lifetime. In so doing, we give up an important part, thus the connection to our roots, and this will be missed throughout our life. But a broader point of view on things is gained. My places of the heart are inside me, I have never abandoned them, they form my persona, my memories, my most intimate thoughts and flow into my writing. Finally, I feel that home is where the people you love are.
MTDD: Your passion has always been writing which, by your own admission, you carry within you since adolescence. In 2017, you published your first novel, L’odore dei giorni (The Smell of the Days) (Tekeditori).
Starting from its title, would you like to tell us about its content and its message to the public?
EF: The smell of the days is an intimate, coming-of-age novel. It tells about Barbara's life, her search for a place in the world, her world being heroic and customary at the same time. Ultimately, it is a challenge, that of telling the everyday life, the ordinary, showing its extraordinary nature. We are all unique pieces, protagonists, and heroes of our lives and anyone can find themselves in Barbara's story, because life, the real one, is a journey, sometimes more exciting and unsettling than a novel. More than the novel, it certainly requires a lot of courage and a lot of passion. The title of the book comes from the awareness, of Proustian memory, that smells trigger the memory, like or perhaps more than music. I found myself walking in a park, in a city where I had not gone for a long time, and I recovered in a breath of wind all the smells of that place, from the fog to the scent of moss, to the fragrance of wet earth, of mushrooms, of burnt wood. The smell of my young winters, of the first kisses, a smell to remember and tell. Thus the title was born and the novel was born, from a walk in a Turin park. The amazement came later. What I believed to be my personal experience turned out to be common to that of many readers who, according to them, found themselves in my pages. Then I understood that when you publish a story, that is no longer yours alone, it becomes everyone's, it interprets and channels experiences, in a certain sense it is enriched by the reader's eye, creating a thread of union, a sort of imaginary friendship.
MTDD: I fully share your thoughts. In March 2021 you published your second novel, Vite Convergenti (Convergent Lives) (Bertoni Editore), for which you have already obtained an award.
Tell us about your work, from the title to the issues it addresses and the message you want to communicate to the reader, and any other details you wish to add.
EF: Vite convergenti tells the story of two young people of our time, placed in a difficult context and in a miserly time, which offers little and asks a lot from our children. This generation bears the burden of unsolved problems which we, fathers, mothers, grandparents, are largely responsible for and guilty of. Dario and Chiara try many ways to be able to fulfill themselves professionally, in a complicated path, full of obstacles, but scattered here and there with those little great joys and satisfactions that make life worth living, fought, and savored. In this intricate path, often uphill, strewn with unexpected events, other characters converge, who meet, generating friendships, exchanging experiences, to build the mosaic of history. Vite convergenti (Convergent Lives) wants to remind us that we do not go anywhere alone, we are social beings and each of us is the result of the encounters and events that have shaped us. But it also suggests, between the lines, a strong invitation to hope and gratitude towards life, as a priceless and unique gift, to always be appreciated in all conditions, even when it turns gray, hiding its magnificent colors.
MTDD: These two novels have been flanked by poems and short stories published in anthologies, magazines, and calendars and for which you have obtained various awards.
Would you like to tell us about them?
EF: I wrote and published short stories and poems in various anthologies, which I still write today. They are a more immediate way of transmitting emotions and channeling experiences and suggestions. My poems are free from metrics and rhyme, perhaps I could simply define them as thoughts, emotions on paper. Writing, especially poetry, has a very intense cathartic function. But for now, I don't feel the need to publish them. Maybe in the future, who knows! The awards have value as they objectively recognize what is subjective inside me. I don't like competition, I participated in some serious literary competitions because I felt the need to see myself through the eyes of the reader, to find competent external feedback, extraneous to my enchantment towards words.
MTDD: In the introduction, I defined you as "an artist ... multifaceted" because, in addition to your intense literary activity, you are also a painter on porcelain.
When and how was this other passion of yours born?
EF: I would define myself as an artisan, more than an artist. But I have this confusion, this inner magma, this dissatisfaction of an artist. Here, in this, I am an artist. I studied the "Third Fire in Porcelain Technique" first in Turin, where I learned the use of colors and the basic technique, then in Rome with a good teacher, dear friend, Anna Salvatori, in the charming workshop of the Paolelli family. I still paint, sometimes, out of passion or friendship.
MTDD: While your artistic talent and aesthetic sense are evident in your creations, how have you refined these qualities?
EF: Thank you for the compliment. In both writing and painting, exercise is, in my opinion, of primary importance. So, I would say keep writing and painting, always.
MTDD: Elisabetta, is there any other information you would like to share that we haven't mentioned?
EF: I want to thank you, because, due to my publications, I met, through Facebook, special people, who have helped me in my journey and to whom I am grateful. You are among these people and you have a rare kindness, which I appreciate and consider a virtue, not at all obvious. In the same way, I want to thank my two editors, Tekeditori and Bertoni, because they have placed their trust in me. Thanks to those who have come this far in reading, I hope I have not bored them too much. I find it difficult to talk about myself and my life, but it was nice to be here, with you, in this virtual salon, in friendship, at a distance, and yet in presence.
MTDD: Heartfelt thanks, Elizabeth, for your words with which I agree. It's true, even I have met through social networks like Facebook really special people towards whom I feel not only esteem but also deep affection, and you are among them. I am not going to list them, but – while reading us – they shall recognize themselves.
If there are any readers or porcelain lovers who wished to contact you and/or even buy your works, how can they do so?
EF: My books can be found on all major online platforms, they can be purchased in bookstores, and even ordered there. My FB profile is public, anyone can contact me, even on messenger.
MTDD: Thank you, Elisabetta, for participating in this interview. It was a great pleasure to host you. I look forward to seeing you in the future for your other works, whatever they may be. In the meantime, I wish you great success in all your businesses.
EF: Thanks to you, dear Maria Teresa, it was a joy for me to talk to you and your readers. I warmly reciprocate the wish you make me. For me, success is enjoying what I do and finding feedback in people, to whom I hope to give, through my writings, a few hours of escape, a smile, a tear, a little dream.