A hidden gem in a village off the beaten track in Corsica – welcome to Poterie de Corbara, and meet its multi-talented owner, Antoine Campana.
After a five-hour SNCM ferry trip from Nice, my wife and I set foot for the first time on the northern coast of Corsica. Unable to resist the allure of the wilds of the Île de Beauté, we didn’t quite know what to expect.
A chance encounter or brush with serendipity always leaves a lasting impression on a holiday, and within moments of arriving we stumbled upon a jewel tucked into the hills above Île Rousse in the quiet village of Corbara.
Beautiful beaches, countless cafés, there was plenty to do, but on a hunch we followed the signs for ‘Poterie de Corbara‘. At the end of a winding little road we were warmly greeted by a dog, leaping up and wagging its tail. You could hear the sound of his master busily working away in the atelier.
Inside, sitting meditatively at his potter’s wheel, was Antoine Campana (pictured above). He put the finishing touches on a dinner plate before welcoming us in. The walls were lined with countless pieces: cups, decanters, vases, candle sticks, salad bowls – all glazed in beautiful shades of blue and green, each a perfect match to the Mediterranean glistening just outside the window. The air was hot from the roaring kiln, but we spent hours there watching him work and listening to all he had to share.
It’s often said that the difference between talent and mastery is ten thousand hours of practice. If that’s true, then Antoine passed that mark ages ago. His work days begin at 5h00 and end at 18h30. After thirty years at the wheel his subtle gestures and effortless speed appear almost magical to the untrained outsider. We watched in awe as beautiful, identical objects were conjured from formless lumps of clay one after the other.
After a hard days work, Antoine often catches up with his other passion: professional tennis. But, as he told us, he sees little difference between the sport and his craft. In his mind, they both have the things that set the pros apart: hard work, repetition, and replication.
Apart the physical aspect of pottery work, it is also very intellectual. There were times when Antoine sounded more like a chemist as he explained to us the process of oxidation and how he achieves different colours in the firing process.
Poterie de Corbara is a one man operation. Craftsman, designer, and chemist, Antoine’s also a business man. He sells a lot of his work to visitors, but he also has clients on the continent and around the world. We bought several pieces ourselves.
Later that evening, we went to the neighbouring town of Algajola for dinner. Reveling in our good luck at having discovered this great local artisan, imagine our surprise when the waiter arrived with our meals served on plates made by Antoine!
Visitors and shoppers are welcome daily from 10h00 to 12h00 and 15h00 to 18h30.
Poterie de Corbara
Route des Artisans
Tel: 04 95 60 23 37
Email: antoroland0521 [at] orange.fr
Lead image credit: danymages / 123RF Stock Photo; all other photographs © John Dodge
Leave a Reply