Q&A with Tom Rizzo, Manager of Travelling Exhibitions at Artisans of Florence
Tom speaks to TEN about how Artisans of Florence brings the work of great artists to a global audience, while still remaining true to the creators’ original intentions.
TEN: What is Artisans of Florence’s main business, on a daily basis?
Tom Rizzo: Artisans of Florence strive to deliver high-calibe work, liaising with clients to ensure that the exhibitions are delivered fulfilling all expectations, and working closely with the Niccolai Group and other academics to develop outstanding new exhibitions and exhibits.
Read more about The Divine Michelangelo exhibition here: www.juliuscaesar.niccolaigroup.com/exhibitions#Michelangelo
TEN: How many people are involved with the company?
TR: Artisans of Florence – International is a small family business with a great International reputation. The core group consists of up to a dozen individuals including exhibition managers, developers, promoters and artisans at any one time. As you can imagine we have a vast network of partner organisations and collaborators.
TEN: Tell us a little bit about the award-winning artisans you work with, and how you source them?
TR: The Niccolai family are true artists and incredible engineers. Through their tireless research we have uncovered the ‘blueprints’ of da Vinci’s robot and are proud to hold (as far as I know) the only patent on da Vinci technology in the world. Some of their other incredible discoveries include: the mechanism for a clockwork dragonfly and the details for da Vinci’s mechanical lion.
Watch a video from an Artisans of Florence workshop here:
The scope of our exhibitions span multiple genres and have a vast inter-generational appeal.
TEN: What kind of institutions are interested in your interactive exhibitions?
TR: The scope of our exhibitions span multiple genres and have a vast inter-generational appeal. For this reason our exhibitions are highly sought after by Science Centers, Museums and Art Galleries alike.
TEN: What have been some of the most important or significant exhibitions Artisans of Florence has produced to date?
TR: We are proud of all of our exhibitions but special mention must go to the Da Vinci Machines and Robotics Exhibition which led to our artisans being awarded the converted Italia che Lavora award in 2001. This exhibition also showcases da Vinci’s robot drummer, the patent for which is held by Artisans of Florence – International. The Julius Caesar/Ancient Rome Exhibition is also of special significance and was awarded the Italian President’s Gold Medal in 2009. Both of these exhibitions are complimented with award-winning educational resources.
Every exhibit is the result of painstaking research based off originals sketches. Our artisans work closely with the wolds leading da Vinci historians and academics.
TEN: Can you tell me about the process of creating exhibition artifacts – how much do you refer to original drawings or historic material?
TR: Every exhibit is the result of painstaking research based off originals sketches. Our artisans work closely with the wolds leading da Vinci historians and academics such as Emeritus Professor Carlo Pedretti of the UCLA in order to ensure that each piece truly reflects the intent of the original design, bringing the past to life for the first time in over five centuries.
Watch a preview of the da Vinci Machines exhibition here:
TEN: What kind of challenges come with creating such intricate pieces, such as the Da Vinci Robotics?
TR: Following Leonardo da Vinci’s death in 1519 his works were split up and dispersed around the world. Although we hold complete facsimile copies of every known sketch, the folios are divided into collections known as codices. These codices are not in the order in which Leonardo would have had them cataloged and divided to make things worse many pages and notes have been lost. It takes years of study to be able determine which sketches belong together in order to create complex designs such as da Vinci’s robotics.
In order to create something unique, we take the time to sift through the tens of thousands of sketches left by Leonardo in order to find the hidden gems that most researchers don’t notice.
TEN: How do you pay respect to works of art, while still creating something new?
TR: In order to create something unique, we take the time to sift through the tens of thousands of sketches left by Leonardo in order to find the hidden gems that most researchers don’t notice. We use these designs to create something that is functional but most importantly can be used by guests of the exhibition in order to better understand the mind of the greatest genius of all time. We use many of the materials and techniques that Leonardo himself would have used to construct models in his own workshop. The great part about what we do, is that many of Leonardo’s designs were never built in his lifetime, so we are able to build and test them for the first time ever, often proving that the science behind his ideas was sound. Its great for the guests of our exhibitions to be able to explore these ideas for themselves.