In Milazzo, on the northern coast of Sicily, the atelier Previtera-Pracanica for over forty years has been creating sacred images and works in papier mache, in addition to the production of handmade ornaments and to the restoration of wooden works.

What really distingueshes their production are the leather masks that evoke mythical characters like Odysseus, Homer and Norman warriors, wich can be admired at the Salon Art Shopping in the dynamic location of the Carrousel du Louvre.

What kind of training have you had?

It was the beginning of the 70s: Gina had already achieved the title of Master of Art at the School of Arts in Milazzo and I had completed my studies at the Université de Lausanne.
We have deepened our knowledge by attending an Academy of Dramatic Art, a Mime School, an Academy of Fine Arts and the workshops of different artists and restorers known both in Italy and in Europe.
Our training has been characterised, since the beginning, by the attendance of Art Academies as well as by the daily practice at the artists' studios.

Our training has been characterised, since the beginning, by the attendance of Art Academies as well as by the daily practice at the artists' studios.

What is the relationship between your work and the territory?

We try to establish a relationship with our region. It seems to us, thanks to the wide range of works produced, that we have succeeded in this: it has been said that in our works revives the popular imagination of our island. For a period, we had been able to run two research centers: one at the Castello di Milazzo and one in Montalbano Elicona, in addition to the courses sponsored by the European Community. To reinforce the link with the Sicilian traditions, and in particular with the historical “cuntastori” (storyteller) practice, we are creating a series of shows with actors and mimes as protagonists who wear our masks and act as the Sicilian puppets. Now, however, we are also known outside Sicily: our masks are on display at the International Museum of the Mask “Amleto and Donato Sartori” in Abano Terme.

What kind of customers do you have?

We have a very heterogeneous kind of customers, that has been with us for over forty years. In our area we have always worked a lot. We have also received appreciation from all over the world.

Do you think that nowadays the young generation may be interested in joining a work like yours?

Yes, in fact we are looking for a cooperation with the local government to organize events aimed at the involvement of young people, to endeavour and direct them to craftsmanship. Our courses deal with various aspects of our culture: we have worked for years with recycled materials, creating wonderful works. We realise paintings on wooden boards, following ancient techniques and getting inspired by the greek-byzantine rules of composition.

What is the perspective of a profession like yours in Sicily?

Today, after years of sacrifice and passionate work we realize that, with our initiatives, we are creating a network between the Sicilian reality, the young people and the most advanced world of art and crafts. Our Association is organizing courses for young people and is cooperating for the establishment of an International Mask Museum. We will give an important contribution to its future collection with our works. Other associations are also going to organise some interesting exhibitions of our works in the most beautiful castles in Sicily.

Does the institutions safeguard this kind of activity?

So far we had to spend all our energies to reach our targets. Although there is much interest towards our activities: in the last exhibition at the Monte di Pietà in Messina, organised by the Province of Messina, some critics have recognized that we have been able to create a new artistic language.