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site.btaArtisans Are People with Unique Skills and Deserve More Recognition, Says Rosina Pencheva

Artisans Are People with Unique Skills and Deserve More Recognition, Says Rosina Pencheva
Artisans Are People with Unique Skills and Deserve More Recognition, Says Rosina Pencheva
Photo by Rosina Pencheva

Artisans are people with extraordinary skills and it's important to support them. In other countries such people are highly esteemed, but not here, Rosina Pencheva told BTA. She is a photographer and an ambassador for the Homo Faber Biennale of Contemporary Crafts in Venice.

The third edition of the biennale will be held in September. This year the theme is "The Journey of Life". As an ambassador, Rosina Pencheva gives suggestions for the inclusion of Bulgarian artisans in the initiative's network. On her recommendation, several Bulgarians with interesting styles have so far been included in the Biennale's guide and programme. Among them are a man who makes origami accessories out of leather - without stitching, only with folds. Also a luthier, ceramist, jewellers, bookbinders, and a master of dry stone masonry.


As a child, Pencheva watched her grandfather work in the workshop at home. She grew up backstage at the theatre where her mother performed pantomime - this also determined her choice. A photographer by training, in 2013 she found her way - to photograph the processes of creating works of art.

She first started taking photos backstage at the theatre. At that time, she also photographed the first artisan "in her collection" - a jeweller, a close family friend. In 2015, she took a job at the Etar ethno village museum because of her interest in art creation in its workshops. While working there, she became an ambassador for Homo Faber.


Rosina Pencheva also created the project "Crafted by Hand" - a photographic diary of visits to workshops of masters of rare crafts. It is directly related to her ambassadorial work for Homo Faber. "To be able to recommend artisans, they have to have a portfolio," Pencheva notes, adding that she helps them by taking their photos. Along the way, she realised that it was great that she was promoting these people abroad through her ambassadorial work, but she wished that people in Bulgaria knew more about them too. "These are people with extraordinary skills and it's important to know about them, about their work, to support them," she says. That's why she made a website.

The focus in the beginning was on the rarest crafts that we know nothing about. On several occasions she went to the workshops to photograph the process of their work. "I set out with the idea of researching the disappearing crafts, but it turned out that some of them were being revived simply because there was a new wave of interest in craftsmanship," she said. She attributes this return to old crafts to green, sustainable living, to the desire to have fewer but quality things, which according to her is a global trend. 


While researching crafts in Bulgaria, Rosina Pencheva discovered that besides disappearing and reviving crafts, there is a third kind - imported crafts.

So far, the only imported craft that she has found here is pipe making. Georgi Todorov-Getz was the first to import it more than 20 years ago, says Peneva. On her recommendation, he is listed in the Homo Faber guide. Among the resurgent crafts are dry stone masonry and art bookbinding. She discovered two very young Bulgarians who were engaged in them. 

According to Pencheva, there are quite a few endangered crafts: luthiery, rebec making, brasswork, etc. Some of these people have difficulty in obtaining raw materials for their products and this further threatens them with extinction. Some crafts however are artificially maintained by the museum.


The list of eligible crafts for the Biennale is huge, Rosina Pencheva noted. To take part in the guide, the forum or the Homo Faber programmes, craftspeople must have the skill of the human hand - something machines cannot create. She said the initiative is looking for something special, a signature touch, and applicants must meet eleven criteria.

She pointed out that it's a very important requirement that they want to pass on their craft. "I have come across such cases where an elderly craftsman, a master, does not want to pass on his skills to someone who is not in his lineage," she said, adding that this is very limiting because craft culture is the identity of every nation and country, and the platform feels no need to represent and support such artisans.

The Homo Faber programme also offers the option for a young artisan to do apprenticeship under an old master. To do this, they must know the language of the master. Mostly young people apply, Pencheva said. Apart from the practical training, there is also training in finance and marketing, which seems to be extremely important, because this allows them to survive. This is what sets Homo Faber apart from other master classes and workshops, she pointed out.




By 00:06 on 21.05.2024 Today`s news

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