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Haptic & Hue

Jun 2, 2022

The Italian Renaissance produced glorious masterpieces by artists like Leonardo da Vinci and Michaelangelo who are justly feted for their talent. But look again at these pictures and you realise that they show the work of other artists as well, artists whose work was hugely skilled, well rewarded, and just as valued by the elite of the day who could afford to buy it. But the names of these spinners and dyers, the weavers and embroiderers are lost to us, and their work has largely crumbled to dust. This episode is about them and the painters who depicted the marvels they could create by hand.


Five hundred years after the Renaissance it is often the paint that survives, rather than the fabric depicted. But the extraordinary skills needed to produce the lustrous and sumptuous cloth that we see reflected in the paintings lit up this age, provided a rich spectacle, and told us so much about how the people of this time wanted to be seen and the stories they told about themselves.


Across Italy, as machines replaced humans those skills have faded almost – but not quite - entirely. This episode explores two workshops where the old ways are still followed and ancient skills kept alive as beautiful fabrics are produced and processed by hand.


For a full script of this podcast, pictures, links, and show notes please go to