Happy Wednesday! I told you yesterday, I’d be introducing you to another great artist in the BCN Handmade series, and here he is: Jean-Briac Ravello – a stone mason who worked for a number of years on-site at the Sagrada Familia, and who some time ago decided to dedicate his time solely to creating his own (very beautiful) stone items. Ready? Here goes: BCN Handmade – Jean-Briac Ravello.
It as at Openhouse that I’d first spotted Jean-Briac’s delightful stone dishes and bowls, and heard that they are made locally by a French stonemason. Then I spotted some of Jean-Briac’s items on Facebook (as you do) and thought it would be a good idea to include him in this series. But it wasn’t until we met at the excursion that was organised to visit Casa La Ricarda (check the posts here and here), that the wheels were set in motion for today’s blog post to be possible.
So, a couple of weeks ago, on one of the first warm days of Spring, I went to visit Jean Briac at his workshop, which is not far from Plaça Espanya. And there, he introduced me to the other artisans that work on the same floor of the building, and he showed me the tools of his former trade as a stone mason, and which he uses to create his artful pieces, explained how he works, told me about different types of stones, and allowed me to take lots of photos.
As I am the kind of person who takes home pebbles and stones from trips to the beach and countryside, and am forever thinking about how I could create something with them rather than just have them lying around everywhere, I was enthralled by what Jean-Briac explained and showed me. It was great to be offered the chance to understand a little more of how a stonemason approaches his work, and how the various finishes can be achieved, but also to meet the man behind the beautiful items that I had been so blown away by.
Therefore, I am very happy to be able to offer you a few glimpses of his work and allow him to tell you a bit about himself in his own words, after the slideshow – enjoy!
Where are you from?
I’m French, and lived most of my youth, until I was twenty, in the area of Toulouse.
What does Barcelona mean to you?
For me, as I grew up in a town with 20,ooo inhabitants, Barcelona is a city that has no end, is always active, in constant movement. Where there is always something o see, something to do or someone to meet.
Montjuïc and especially the Botanical Gardens. I love Barcelona but I also like nature, and Montjuïc is a place where I can go for walks among plants as well as enjoy the exceptional views of the city.
” Le Petit Bergerac”, where they serve regional cuisine from the Perigord, an area in France that offers great culinary products. I like it not so much for a love of my country, but for the cosy ambience and the gentleness of its staff. A French bubble within my life in Catalonia.
I have always drawn a lot and was always attracted to art and the aesthetic in general. At age 20 I learned how to work with stone with “les Compagnons du devoir”. It is a trade school that is well anchored in the tradition and culture of the constructors of cathedrals, and which trains its pupils through travel. Training is divided between apprenticeship at companies and afternoon courses. Moving to a different city each year fosters the knowledge of a wide range of stones and work techniques. Thus, I had the chance to work on marble, slate, and granite among other stones, and to discover the culture of places as diverse as the Pyrenees, the Champagne region, Bordeaux, Paris and Barcelona.
How did you get here (i.e. to where you are now)?
By following a path to acquire more knowledge both of materials and techniques, and by willing to work outside the boundaries of my country, I chose to come and work on “the last cathedral under construction”, the Sagrada Familia. It is what brought me to Barcelona; the city and its people made me stay.
What inspires you?
I like everything that has anything to do with creativity, be it collage, graffiti, architecture o industrial design, I think anything that requires the intervention of an artistic sensibility. It all offers me constant and renewed inspiration, although ultimately nature and plants capture my attention more.
When / how does inspiration strike?
I wouldn’t know exactly which is the moment or the circumstance in which inspiration hits me, as I frequently have ideas. As child I spent my time observing and drawing when it was not my imagination that fueled my sketches. Even today I always carry a notebook and a pencil with me.
Which part of your making process do you find satisfying ?
The creative part is very important to me. I like sketching a lot, as well as to work a block of rough stone, to see an idea surge where before there was nothing. Although seeing people speak about my pieces with emotion gives me even more satisfaction.
The next piece, it is what drives me to create. To surprise myself with new ideas, new designs. At the moment I only want to continue to make larger and more complex pieces.
I look forward to seeing those larger and more complex pieces soon! Meanwhile, I have several of the smaller items at the top end of my wish list…
You can find Jean-Briac’s lovely dishes, bowls and vases at the following shops:
Openhouse – Carrer Notariat 6, 08001 Barcelona
Concret – Carrer Volta dels Tamborets 5, 08003 Barcelona
Siesta – Carrer Ferlandina 18, 08001 Barcelona
And lots of beautiful images as well as information on Jean-Briac’s blog.
Thanks very much, Jean-Briac, for kindly welcoming me into your workshop, and generously sharing your passion for design and stones, and how you work them to create such beautiful items, with me, so that I could share it here, on BCN Handmade – Jean-Briac Ravello!