Moccia and Pagliarulo

Rosa Pagliarulo was born in Noicattaro and got her diploma in 1981 at Arts high school in Bari. She is the owner of “La Bottega della Terracotta” (The Terracotta Workshop) in Rutigliano, where she works all day shaping clay and decorating various terracotta objects. “The abundance of Apulian craftsmanship comes into the world from poor raw materials. Earth, water and fire have always been used to shape things of everyday usage, we turn them into precious souvenirs.”
Vito Moccia was born in Rutigliano, he got his diploma in 1980 at Arts high school in Bari and started to attend a painting course at School of fine arts, beginning to experiment at the same time new art forms. “Memory produces emotions. This is the vital function of art. At the bottom of my inspiration there is the memory of my land’s colours and dreams.”
In the Workshop of Terracotta both of them perform a kind of poor art which is at the same time extremely telling. The creation of terracotta figurative anthropomorphic works is an ancient tradition in Rutigliano which conveys the strong devotion to artists’ homeland. Customs and traditions, moments of real life are caught in their rustic everyday routine. Thus, these artists differentiate from local production of whistles since they are the only ones depicting humble people living in the Medieval village of Rutigliano.
All whistles are handmade and duplicated in a very limited number. The artists also make specific objects and whistles on demand.
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Whistles are sometimes wrongly considered as simple toys. Instead popular ceramic ware, or better, “terracotta whistles” are precious handcrafted objects which have archaic and symbolic meanings. They also have ritual purposes whose diffusion everywhere is proved in ancient times, too. Simple and primordial elements like earth, fire, water and wind have shaped an object aimed at chasing away evil spirits and gaining favour (the harvest, the girl) or at ridiculing the establishment, through creativity and ability of the artist and, of course, thanks to its continuous whistle. On the 17th of January, the first day of Easter, an humble craftsman, taking advantage of the feast, starts depicting  the mighty (carabinieri, the mayor, the high priest) without fearing any kind of persecution. Therefore Rutigliano terracotta whistles were invented and nowadays there is a real cult of whistle which has made them famous all over the nation and abroad, too. Since 1989 every January the whistle fair takes place in Rutigliano together with the “Città di Rutigliano” National Terracotta Whistle Contest. The most important terracotta Italian artists race for this artistic competition, the first of this kind in Italy.

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