In the Making: Paolo Brandolisio

May 27, 2021


In the Making

“As a Venetian, sometimes you take it for granted that [living on the water] is part of the culture, and how you are, and how you live in the city—and it’s something very special. The water gives Venice something very unique: Paradise on Earth.”

On Thursday, May 27, 2021, we livestreamed from Venice, Italy with Paolo Brandolisio, one of only a handful of remaining makers of the fórcola.

Joined by translator Emma Holland and guide Sebastian Rauch, the event was a fascinating opportunity to hear from a master craftsman himself on his process and tools, and to be invited inside his workshop, positioned right on a Venetian canal.

View a video of the full conversation above.

In Venice Italy, the “fórcola” (in English, oarlock) is as much a critical part of the Venetian Gondola as it is a cultural symbol. Today there are only five remaining artisans who know how to hand-carve these pieces, made from a single piece of wood and customized to the type of boat and dimensions of the person rowing it. The “remèr” uses the 3 or 4 tools original to this very specific craft.

For centuries the tradition of making the fórcola has been orally passed down from teacher to student. Taught at age 15 by the legendary Giuseppe Carli’ in the oldest workshop in existence to teach this skill, Paolo Brandolisio now owns that same shop-just one of four of its kind left in Venice.

“In the Making” is a new public programs series where we connect with a range of new voices, fields, and perspectives. Learn more and view a full list of events on the series homepage here.