Arturo Mora Benavent descends from a veteran family of ceramists from Manises. In the last third of the
19th century, his great-great-grandfather, Fernando Mora Osca, was the first one in the family line to produce lusterware – as the pieces conserved with the hallmark “F.M.” painted on the back prove-, and the luster formulae notebook of his great-grandfather, Arturo Mora Zorrilla, dates from 1898; both ceramists took part in the Historicist artistic movement, which in Manises focused in the recovering of the Gothic-Mudejar ceramics.
In 1958, his grandfather, Salvador Mora Zorrilla, and his father, Salvador Mora Escobar, founded the factory of ornamental ceramics, where Arturo Mora continues working currently using a more artisanal perspective based on the update of an ancient tradition.
With this rich technical culture of family tradition , it isn’t surprising that, in Arturo Mora’s workshop, people use several ceramic procedures, being the most distinguished one the difficult luster technique he employs for creating duplicates of historical pieces which were made in the workrooms of Manises from the 14th to the 18th centuries, and which are today being shown in the main museums around the world. Likewise, he also makes interesting updates and his own creations, all of them elaborated on the potter’s wheel, freehand painted and fired in third reduction firing, as the Hispanic-Muslim lusterware was made.
Awards Arturo Mora has received numerous awards recognizing his efficient working practices at the luster ceramics specialty. Among these many prizes, the following ones must be highlighted: – Manises Qualitat i Disseny Award, to the best traditional ceramics exhibited in CEVIDER fair, Valencia 1997. – Manises Qualitat i Disseny Award, to the best neo-artisanal ceramics exhibited in CEVIDER fair, Valencia 1998. – Manises Qualitat i Disseny Award, to the best traditional ceramics exhibited in CEVIDER fair, Valencia 2001. – 2nd prize in the ceramics category in the XVI Premio Caja Jaén de Artesanía Award,, Jaén, 2004.-Premio Nacional de Cerámica 2015,(Ciudades de la cerámica)
Exhibitions Besides the permanent exhibition that since 2004 he opened in his workshop in Manises, his work has been invited to take part in the following exhibitions: – Lustre Ware Ceramics. Tradition and modernity, head office of the Instituto Valenciano de la Exportación in Los Angeles, the United States 1998. – Breaking the moulds: Arturo Mora, Benlloch-Algora and Vicente Gimeno, Ceramics School of Manises, 1999. – Individual luster ceramics exhibition in Martínez Glera Art Gallery, Logroño, 2004. – VII Bienal Internacional de Cerámica de Manises, 2005.
Comments on his work “Arturo Mora. The last years, he has leaded his efforts to recover the luster technique. His current production presents two lines of work. On one hand, the duplicate of the lusterware from Manises of the 15th – 16th centuries –from which it is distinguished his employment of the potter’s wheel and his well-done paint brush work- and, on the other hand, the utilization of the luster for creating new designs, as formal as ornamental, which suppose one of the most serious attempts of updating the traditional luster work and provide it with new contents.” Josep Pérez Camps, director of the Ceramics Museum of Manises. Published in the brochure of the exhibition Breaking the moulds: Arturo Mora, Benlloch-Algora and Vicente Gimeno, Ceramics School of Manises, 1999.
LUSTER IN THE MAIN CENTRE OF HIS SPECIALTY: MANISES. Descubierta por la cultura islámica, the luster technique applied to ceramics appears and develops in the Abbasid Irak during the 9th century, and from there, it appears afterwards in Al-Andalus, where in the 13th century, there is a certain proof of its production in Malaga and Murcia. At the beginning of the 14th century, Don Pedro Boil (fourth Lord of Manises) was concerned about the potter’s workshops of his manor worked with this novel technique, possibly by the inclusion of ceramics artisans come from the Nazari Kingdom of Granada, which provoked a radical change, qualitatively better, of the production. If it is taken into account that the major part of the first luster makers in Manises was mudejar, living in a territory already reconquered by the Christians, it can be understood that, in its production, formal and ornamental looks from both cultures were crossed over.
From this synthesis, ceramics of great originality appeared which fascinated the European Courts and in general, all the social classes with a higher economic power, because of the exoticism and the magnificence of its decorations, which in most cases included –prior order- their noble coat of arms. This ceramics reached its highest peak during the 15th century coinciding with the cultural and economic growth of Valencia, whose important harbor was the main exit route for its export. Despite the invasion of the Renaissance polychrome earthenware that spread through the peninsula at the beginning of the 16th century through Sevilla and Talavera, and the expulsion of the Moriscos in 1609, from the 16th to the 18th centuries, the workshops of Manises would keep producing lusterware but within parameters of decreasing popularity and market, which provoked almost the entire extinction of the luster technique in the 19th century. Nevertheless, at the end of that century its rebirth took place, associated to the Historicist movement, which materialized in recovering the Hispanic-Arabian ceramics and the several schools that have cooperated in maintaining alive this specialty in Manises from the 21st century on, although only in a brilliant way in Arturo Mora’s workshop.
Arturo Mora, number 2353 of Artisanal Qualification of the Generalitat Valenciana.