With 800 square meters of exhibition, around a thousand pieces and holding an international competition, the Museum of Pottery of l’Alcora (Castellon) is one of the most important in the Valencian Community. We have interviewed its director, Eladi Grangel.
The museum has celebrated in 2014 its twentieh anniversary. Which challenges did you contemplate?
And for the year 2015 and the future? The museum reopened, was expanded and refurbished, in March 2012. In these first years of the new stage the main challenge is to get to the maximum public with our new museographic discourse based on three independent but complimentary collections (Cerámica de l’Alcora, Cerámica Contemporánea and Alfarería Popular), exhibited in modern and accessible facilities.
Could you explain how the expositive programme will be in the next months or advance any news?
On June 26th we opened the exhibition for the 35th International Awards of Pottery of l’Alcora-CICA 2015, which is one of the models in its genre in our country. Every year we get around 200 inscriptions from all over the world and from them we select the finalist works that make up the exhibition. For the last third of the year and for 2016 we are studying diverse proposals, always with the objective of offering a varied, quality programme.
How is the educative project of the museum going and the workshops that you offer?
The Pottery Workshop is one of the gems of our programme. More than 100 groups of scholars visit it every year. We especially value the pedagogical potential of pottery, and we transmit it to all the educative cycles, from Children to Adult or Special Education.
You manage the museum since its launch, which assessment do you make of all this time?
Very satisfactory. We started in 1994 with decent but limited facilities, scarce collections and all of the illusion to recover from l’Alcora and for l’Alcora a pottery heritage that has given international projection to our locality. Not without difficulties, we have been growing in many aspects. Amongst them: the big acceptance of the Pottery Workshop amongst the education community, the implication in the project of all the staff and the recognition amongst the population, that considers the Museum as a place to discover part of the legacy of their ancestors y and to show it with pride to those who visit us.
L’Alcora has a long potter tradition. Could you give us a brief review of its history?
It goes back to, at least, the 16th century. In the historic documentation we have found many references to potters of the time, amongst which stands out the mestre Gabriel Redolat, of whom we preserve two clay jars from around 1570 to 1590. This potter activity ended in 2002 with the closing of the pottery shop of the Nomdedéu Medina brothers. We have recreated some stages of the process of the pottery work with the equipment and tools donated by Antonio Nomdedéu, the last professional potter of l’Alcora. But without a doubt the most famous chapter of our pottery is the Real Factory of the Count of Aranda, founded in 1727, which during the 18th century got into the top of the European pottery production. This factory is also the origin of the tile industrial sector that throughout the 19th and 20th century has developed in the province of Castellon.
There are still craftsmen that work in pottery in the traditional way. How do you see the future of this kind of pottery?
It is a cultural immaterial asset of enormous importance for the Community. But with the loss of utility of many objects and the fierce competition of industrial products made thousands of kilometres away and under unscrupulous conditions, the craftsmanship sector needs measures of support and promotion from public institutions. Pottery craftsmanship is part of our collective identity; we can’t afford the luxury of losing it, of impoverishing as a society.