Defining the RKF Honorfarm project in a few words is quite complex. This unique place, born from a common passion for sacred art, turns into an experience that involves and connects different creative spheres such as street art and music.
RKF, a project in which the founders, Ilario and Vanessa, convey all their dedication to an art that becomes a powerful tool for creative expression and inclusion.
Honorfarm, renamed ‘The Sanctuary‘ by the community, was created in 2020 from a disused factory. Now it is the current artistic workshop and hub of RKF. Here, the couple of artists make their creations, born from a profound research and rediscovery of symbols, religious icons and contemporary sacred art.
The artistic expression of the two creators is distinguished precisely by its reference to holy iconography, taken into a contemporary context and translated into something new, distinctive and original.
One of their sculptures is the iconic Madonna, symbol of Creation.
It is a statue made entirely by hand following a long ‘ritual‘ starting with the plaster powder, up to the customization given by holographic coloring, pouring of paint – the ‘groggata‘ – adding special textures and refined decorations such as jewelry and pin crowns.
In Ilario and Vanessa’s artistic process there is always a great respect in working and creatively enhancing this particular icon, in order to embellish it without ever profaning its intrinsic sacrality.
The ultimate goal is to create a work of art, where every imperfection becomes an added value making every detail precious. The sculptures created thus become unique pieces and collectors’ items, where every detail is not left to chance but comes from careful research into shapes, details and decorative elements.
At the heart of RKF Honorfarm is also the idea of living the Sanctuary as an inclusive hub with a wide perspective towards all kinds of artistic expression. For Ilario and Vanessa, it is essential to create a community of people united by the same values they convey in the project, thus giving rise to new projects and collaborations.
By mixing visions, points of view and identities, every encounter becomes a moment of evolution and growth.
When did the project and the idea of creating a common place where your passion for art could converge?
I: It was the first thing that didn’t start out as a project. Like all good things, it then takes a different form. It started from a passion for sacred art above all, from the design of the Madonna and giving her shape from plaster dust.
V: And not only that.. We collect sacred art, we research all our pieces to bring them back to our homes. On my birthday, Ilario had my parents give me a statue of a lion, a symbol of protection for homes. So we said, if all houses must have lions, why not create them ourselves? The initial idea was to make them from plaster, and also to color, customize and make them our own. So he started looking for molds and at one point he told me he had found a stamp representing a Virgin Mary. So, the Madonna ‘appeared’ to us in a certain sense, and we connected it to our passion for sacred art.
I: In this case, according to Vanessa, the idea was not to desecrate it, but to make a 2.0. So we bought the first two Madonna stamps. So we bought the very first two Madonna stamps. At first, our intention was not to sell them, but to place them on the street in historical places in Milan. So we started to produce them in house, until we had about 50 beautiful Madonna statues.
People who came to visit us asked about these works very often, and after explaining to them about the project, they all said they would like to buy them.
V: So that’s where we started to focus on what price was right to sell them, since they were works of art, sculptures. Many people asked us if they could have the honor of buying one.
I: Thus, after some reflection, we texted East Market with the idea that it was the right target for possible buyers. They replied immediately and so, after the first East Market, we sold about 10 items in the morning only.
V: On Sunday morning, who goes to buy a dress and comes home with Madonna statue? But instead..
I: That’s when we had the brand registered and so it became the RKF project. We then found the current location, the Sanctuary, which was initially a demolished place, but we took it and transformed it.
V: And there we started to do exactly what we did at home, which was also our workshop before, where we painted, made moulds. So we brought our works to East Market and many people understood our project right away, recognising in the Madonna, a work that did not intend to offend the icon but to give it new life in artistic form.
Besides that, we enjoyed working at the location, we almost spent more time there than at home. It was a place where we could work on our works and it also became a meeting place for our friends, where we could experience the brand, and therefore RKF.
The Sanctuary is ‘home’, a workshop and an inclusive hub in which to share interests and create new projects and collaborations. How important is sharing in this context?
V: It is essential as it is a giving and receiving. Surely the Madonna is the common denominator that unites at first sight.
I: Exactly, then you get to know each other, exchange opinions, connect…
V: And new ideas emerge, so it really is a place where you can meet and grow together on both private and professional passions.
I: Of course, because the Madonna is a starting point, but to evolve, we want there to be an idea of co-creation of the future. Based on the feedback from those who attend RKF we will figure out which will be the next level of our Madonnas. The great thing is this, getting to do it together and then finding people with whom you can get along.
V: Many people often contact us to propose things and every time we reply to come and visit us here, at the Sanctuary. We want to meet them live before saying yes to any initiative, to see if we breathe the same vibes. For us, the Sanctuary is a fundamental step (laughs).
A distinctive feature of the Madonna is the dripping of paint from the statue’s hands. How do you interpret and reinterpret the creation of these pieces associated with such a sacred icon?
V: First of all, to create the Madonna sculptures is my form of prayer. I always say, we consider ourselves spiritual. It is just a way, a maieutic one if you like, of bringing out our being in all its variations. Then, we have confronted many times those who have asked us about the ‘groggata‘, to sign it in this way has always led to a comparison resulting from different interpretations.
I: Clearly. First of all, the ‘groggata’ is our personal signature and therefore a distinctive trait that we want to give. It’s a colour that wants to represent recognisability, but above all we associate it with dirty hands; in the sense that every day each one of us ‘gets our hands dirty’, we face different situations, we struggle, so it also expresses the suffering that each one of us feels in moving forward. And it is then associated with the ‘Mother of all‘, in that even if you don’t believe there is an aspect of austerity before Her.
V: Besides, it is a beautiful and powerful icon, so we want to respect it.
I: We don’t want to make it profane, or even make it pop with ornaments or decorations…
V: We never want to offend her, instead we try to enrich her, to then belong to everyone and reach out to everyone. We liked the idea that in homes everyone would find their own Virgin Mary statue, like in the past when it was present in grandmothers’ homes.
I: But a completely different Madonna, which you can customize and make into something different.
V: You can meet her with your own unique style and thus recognize her close to you.
With RKF, you were able to involve different creative personalities and work together to create unique works of art. How did this encounter come and what were the different collaborations?
I: It all starts from the Sanctuary, a hub where we find people with the same values as us, such as music, art, sport, tattoos, street art and more. We begin to get to know people, to share, and with some eventually a small love story is born.
V: We have sometimes received some requests that we have quietly refused, in which the value of the work was not appreciated but only its commercial side as a product. In other cases, like with Gep Caserta, we gave him one of our Madonna’s to customize freely. He kept it 8 months at home, still intact, in cast. Until one day he felt like starting to work on it. With him there were then some collaborations, including this Madonna worked with a particular technique given by the union of two different colors.
We had other collaborations with Dario Denver, an artist who has the same passion as us, so we left him a Madonna to work on. We then realized that we could work together with him on special works, made from skateboards and the ‘Jesus’ piece.
While with Viper Haze, similarly, we collaborate by allowing the artists to express themselves in the way they feel most represented. Every artist we work with is respected and we find the best way to connect and create together. We are currently collaborating with him and plan to carry out a number of projects, to give value to art in different contexts.
In the future of RKF Honorfarm we would like to evolve and become something else. We would like to be recognized for the ‘Madonna’ and take it from there to bring out aspects of creativity also in other activities, such as events. At the same time we would like to continue to reach out and take care of those who love our icons and their stories, making them part of the creation of our future. Using RKF to stimulate and push into action through immersive experiences anyone who is trying to create change but does not know how to start.