On metal tables, delicate glass amphorae are arranged as in a Viking mead room. Used in the ancient Mediterranean as shipping containers on Phoenician ships. To serve wine at Roman banquets and so many precious goods. Receiving the Panathenaic Amphora after sporting events held in ancient Athens was a life-changing experience, for example. These containers, transformed into glass, reconnect visitors to the Benyamini Contemporary Ceramics Center (BCCC) to a millennium of human culture.

The recently expanded Amphorae exhibition showcases the works of Noam Dover and Michal Cederbaum and their dedicated journey as a couple through some of the world’s most respected glass centers.

A serial winner of the Israel Decorative Arts Association (AIDA) scholarship, Dover was able to attend workshops at the Pilchuck Glass School near Seattle and the Corning Museum of Glass in New York City before exploring the rich tradition. of three centuries of Swedish glasswork alongside his wife.

“When I was a child, my parents always took me during the holidays to Glasriket [the Kingdom of Crystal]Cederbaum, who is Swedish-Israeli, told The Jerusalem Post. “I wanted to work with glass so much that I took a weeklong course there, my grandmother drove me there from Stockholm.” When they lived in Sweden, Dover completed the CRAFT! Master’s program at Konstfack University in the Swedish capital.

High-end craftsmanship cannot evolve without a solid foundation in practical services. In the United States, the demand for large glass windows was so great that a two-story factory in Corning built a huge furnace for the blower to wind a massive amount of glass on its pipe, blow in and lower it. on the first floor where his assistant stood up. Gravity would drag the mass of molten glass into a massive cylindrical shape. When the smoking cylinder was cut, the result was a huge window. The same goes for Sweden, which prides itself on Nordic design.

“A Swedish glassblower works in a living, centuries-old tradition,” Cederbaum said, “this led me to ask, ‘Who are we as Israelis, quoting? Who are we talking to? ‘ Many make the mistake of assuming that the people involved in the craft are driven by nostalgia and romance, ”she said. “Not so.”

While there’s nothing wrong with hobbyists taking advantage of a bit of pottery to refocus, that’s not what critical crafting is. It is a serious exploration of how human material culture can be reintroduced into cultural blood in dialogue with modern technology and industrial trends.

At its core, the desire for a cup, fork or drinking vessel to be beautiful and practical, even bearing the personality of its makers, is fierce.

William Morris, the father of the British Arts and Crafts movement, claimed that a skillfully crafted object defies “the false dreams of history” and that when a man does something, “not only his own thoughts, but the thoughts of a man. men of the past ages guide his hands.

“In this country there is a gap in the way material culture is undertaken and understood,” said Commissioner Shlomit Bauman. “Palestinian ceramic artisans in Hebron have a material practice that dates back approximately 650 years. In contrast, Jewish artisans began their own efforts in the 1930s. For Bauman, the disappearance of almost all creative and respective dialogue between the two material cultures is nothing short of tragic.

“Even the Armenian artisans, who arrived here in 1919 after the British authorities invited them in with the aim of repairing the tiles made in the 16th century at the Al-Aqsa Mosque, can boast of a longer historical depth in their work. practical, ”she added.

Dover learned that high-end glasswork entered Northern Europe from Murano. Italian glassblowers were moved to these islands from Venice when it became apparent that the same fires that heat an oven can burn houses. The Italians picked up the trade secrets of heating the sand in a goblet or plate from the Phoenicians, a Semitic people who resided in what is now called Lebanon – as well as in northern Israel.

RESIDING IN Ein Ayala, the two artisans are close to where an ancient glassblowing workshop once thrived in Roman times and the quartz-rich sands of Acre. The first Phoenician glassblower to sign his work, Ennion, was so good that people wanted to be buried with things he made that they enjoyed in life.

This is how the Israel Museum has become one of the few places in the world where one can see his work. Dover and Cederbaum can, in this sense, trace the beauty of glass to its source – right here at home.

“There were Palestinian families in Hebron who claimed to be the custodians of a glass-blowing tradition first illuminated by the genius of the Phoenicians,” Dover said.

In the winter of 2001, Bauman released Ceramics to the ER at 1280 ° C. She explains how access to the Israeli market allowed the artisan families of Hebron to maintain their workshops until the violence. bursts. She lamented how the bloody realities of the conflict had cut Hebron off from its possible markets and thus stifled existing material craftsmanship.

The paradox being that Israeli control of the West Bank prevented Palestinians from developing other industries and thus preserved a living ceramic tradition that numbered 80 families at one time. She asks: “What does the disappearance of Palestinian ceramics say about us Israeli ceramic artisans?”

In their studio, Dover and Cederbaum use a complex process. Take an object, for example, a rag doll. They cast it with quartz plaster. When the mold is ready, it is emptied and heated glass is blown into it.

“Please be clear that he’s blown, not thrown,” Dover asks. “The pressure of the air blown into the glass bubble and the intense heat of the mold allow the smallest details to be present on the final object. ”

The result, presented as if they were glass treasures recovered from the depths of the sea, possibly removed from a sunken Roman ship. Are then shown to us like a magician’s trick, without spot or crack – for a spectacular effect. The cold hard glass appears to be made of cloth or woven from straw. True to their design, it is easy to imagine them being used for pouring wine, oil and cereals. Items of fertility and trade now re-imagined in glass. Small orange stickers indicate that some works had already been sold. “Prices range from NIS 6,000 to NIS 16,000,” Cederbaum says.

The BCCC was designed to be open to the world around it, explains Bauman, which is why the large murals on the opposite building that warn that “there is no planet B” and the need to peace are visible from the windows of the BCCC. . A walk up the stairs allows the visitor to take a peek at the workshops or resident craftsmen and the beautiful library devoted to glass, ceramics and other crafts.

There is also a painting by Moshe Fishzone of the late Judith Benyamini who requested in her will that the assets she and her husband Yisaschar owned in life would be used to promote love and knowledge of ceramics here. Passionate amateur, she was a nurse by profession.

There is also a gift shop with lovingly made, high quality mugs and plates available for those who want a break from mass-produced items.

“Hundreds of people are waiting to sign up for the courses we offer,” Bauman told The Post, “clay runs at a human pace, computers don’t. The hectic pace of technology demands that we adapt to it, which is exhausting. This is why many are interested in ceramics as a second or third career.

“Amphorae” will be screened until Saturday June 5th at 2pm. The Benyamini Contemporary Ceramics Center (BCCC) is located at 17 Haamal St. Tel Aviv. The opening hours are Monday to Thursday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Friday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Site: https://www.benyaminiceramics.org/en/ Admission is free in accordance with public health measures imposed by the Ministry of Health.

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