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‘I make shoes because of beauty. Not because of shoes’ – on craft as a calling

Originally from Patagonia in Argentina, Norman Vilalta gave up lucrative work as a lawyer in his home country to become a shoemaking apprentice in Florence at the age of 31. Now the proprietor of his own men’s shoe store and workshop in Barcelona, Vilalta derives satisfaction in approaching his craft with an almost spiritual sense of duty, finding meaning in minute details and beauty in the inevitable imperfections that arise when working by hand. With an artful elegance of his own, the US filmmaker Travis Lee Ratcliff captures the combination of force, precision and dedication that characterise Vilalta’s labour of love in his short documentary Zapatería. Highlighting the workshop’s vivid hues, textures and sounds, Ratcliff’s short is a welcome reminder that, while the word ‘artisanal’ might be diluted on upscale grocery-store shelves, it still carries deep significance for committed craftspeople.

Director: Travis Lee Ratcliff

Producer: John Richard Carmichael IV

21 April 2020

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