Abilementa,Vicenza Italia

Abilementa,Vicenza Italia

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Saturday, November 24, 2012


Saturday, August 18, 2012

Th Special effects team recreating Shakespeares London

The Shakespeare Guide to Italy: Retracing the Bard's Unknown Travels

There is a feast of Shakespeare at the moment in London...with Italy never too far away....Where was the setting for The Taming of the Shrew ??? and Where did Portia of The Merchant of Venice come from ?you guessed it..Padova!
.The title of this post is taken from the theory espoused by Richard Roe in his book of the same name ,whose lifelong research was dedicated to Shakespeares Italian plays. Shakespeare was a well-travelled Englishman of intimate Italianate sensibilities ...dont get mislead by the buffoon portrayal of Shakespeare in the film Anonymous-despite its seductive high tech recreation of  London during the brief glory of Elizabethan theatre -see http://vimeo.com/35682569
Shakespeare was a man of means, with a well-rounded education -Oxford graduates as his teachers, his father was the mayor of Stratford and he wrote 8 plays after the Earl of Oxford died .The only other possible theory was that Christpher Marlowe may have staged his own death and lived secretly in Italy and co-authored the plays with Shakepeare. In the end who cares-this mystery only adds to the fascination of this awesome unraveler of the human condition .
Last night I saw the splendid and haunting BBC production of the The Hollow Crown -Richard II in the openair courtyard of The British Museum during their Shakespeare season.Maybe to relieve myself of the intensity of Ben Wishlaws portrayal of the frail boy-king, I kept on gazing up at the pillars of the museum and pinching myself to see if this was real or just a Midsummers Dream....... I had vivid  memories of my mother and father quoting famous lines in relation to their life experiences .
My partner has the same recerence for Shakespeare as well. He had an English teacher who was an Oxford graduate and he remembered the power and beauty of the words as his teacher spoke them even though he didnt undertsand what they meant..this was 50 years ago. in a Middle Eastern desert city ....in the hands of the Bard, theatre has power in any language ..recently theatre companies from around the world performed the plays in their own languages at The Globe--
..All the world is a Stage...rings true again..

Julius Ceasar being performed in Swahili at The Globe Theatre London 2012

This reproduction gown on display at The Globes Museum cost 20,000 pounds as the fabric was specially woven in Genova which is the only place where the authenic woven damask imported form Italy in 16th centuary is still being made----we hope these textile treasures continue to be produced..

 It is good to see Shakespeare is being honoured side by side the London Olympics but there is another sadbut true tale about a precedent to The Globe where Marlowe and Shakespeare performed-remnants of the first theatre in Elizabethan London , in danger of sinking and disintegrating-like Venice..the Rose Theatre but thats another  Shakespearian drama  unfolding as we speak !!!
Follow the link..www.rosetheatre.org.uk

Skakespeares Italian Inspiration

Friday, April 27, 2012

La Primavera and the silk worms are frenetic....

Visiting the
Sericulture Centre
Padova , a city of Veneto,
 that has a Sericulture research         
where you can see at first hand the specially humidified   
rooms which house trays of burgeoning
silkworms. We will visit when
the silkworms grow to their maximum
size. At that stage they have
voracious appetites and the sound of
them munching accompanies their frenzied growth cycle that
needs constant sustenance...

The Stazione Bacologica Sperimentale,
in which silkworm eggs are available
each year to interested silkworm 
like me. It was founded in 1871
by a decree of Vittorio Emanuele II,
though the actual founder was Enrico
Verson. It is a section of the Institute
TEXERE Newsletter Spring 2011
for the Experimental Agrarian Zoology
of Florence. The current director is Dr.
Luciano Cappellozza and the Institute
building is owned by the Provincial
Administration of Padua, which has
developed a museum with live collections
of insects. This includes exhibitions
on sericulture, apiculture and a
general display of Lepidoptera. The
sericulture part shows the silk collections
of the section as well as old tools
and machines used for the rearing of
the silkworms and the reeling of the
cocoon, which is ideal fo children
to obtain first hand experience of
these processes.
The institute is involved in scientific
projects on sericulture and moriculture
and contributes to the conservation
of two germplasm banks of about
50 varieties of Morus spp and about
120 strains of Bombyx mori. The institution
owns a mulberry field, also
used for experiments, that provides
the leaves necessary for the rearing
and breeding of the various Bombyx
Italy has been one of the main centres
of silk production in the world
since the 13th century and was third
in importance after China and Japan.
The Como region of Italy has always
been the main centre of silk production,
but the Veneto area has also
been very important and from medieval
times the Venetian traders flourished
from the production and trading
of silk cloth. The sericulture industry
was still a vital moneymaking practice
for the farm people in Veneto a
century ago. There was an Octogenarian
who struck up a conversation
when they saw us gathering mulberry
leaves who remembered the small
lean-tos attached to the houses where
silkworms were reared, a room of
their own - needing warmth at night
to survive.
The variety of colours of the cocoons
which are genetic variants of bombyx
mori is remarkable and not due to
feeding the creatures different leaves
(see photo). The frequency of groves
of mulberry trees in Northern Italy is
the only indication these days of the
silk-rearing industry which provided
income a hundred years ago thanks
to the industrious and short lived life
cycle of Bombyx whose cocoons were
consigned to Como where industrial
mills produced silk for ties, clothing
and scarves for the middle classes.
Another use was silk for upholstery
and jacquards which are still being
woven at Fondazione Lisio (www.fondazionelisio.
org) where I teach shibori resist dye  workshops every year.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Carnevale in Via Reggio -Art reflects larger than life..

Carnevale has come and gone for 2012 but the most extraordinary manifestation of this 
traditional festival is in Via Reggio , Tuscany with a procession of floats each more amazing than the last.
Its oversized - decidedly irreverent with spectators share the jokes as they spot the famous Italian or infamous ones!
 The sheer scale of the floats is staggering and local artisans are employed year round to create uptodate satircial digs at politicians and topical themes..the local community of all ages participates in exuberate spirits with wild abandon from gaily dressed babies to senior citizens in hula skirts and cocouts!
The movement sequences of each float are even more marvellous knowing each movement is achieved through the local volunteers operating a series of mechanical pulleys and levers inside the body of the carts  and given the procession lasts for hours these operators are the unsung heroes of this uncompromising and enduring spectacle

Saturday, February 4, 2012

February is short and bitter...but not in Venice...!

      In Veneto,they say the month of February is short and bitter but in Venice,as the snowflakes swirl , works of Alessandro ,a metal sculptor whose tiny atelier in San Polo is full of light and imagination.

Its a Calvino-esque world of moons and whales that oscillate in starlit spaces. Lampshades in naturalistic forms and branches of trees with glowing light eggs.
You can even but a sigil in Renaissance style to imprint on the wax to send a letter to send to


Shibori silk with moulded glass for Biosfera exhibition 2006. Photo Alvise Guardagnano

Another contempoaray emerging artist who uses the light and reflections of Venice is photographer Alvise Guardagnano  .His formative years were spent literaly above  the studio of Tintoretto
in Canereggio revealing itself in his use of refections,mirages and optical illusions  .

Tintorettos miraculous rendition of light and dark in his fescoes still inspires us
who, many centuries later ,use light boxes instead of pens and paint -both illusionists of light and dark..

 Venice has many frescoes of Tinteretto but my favourite is at the Chiesa Madonna del Orto, a dark brooding flurry of tangled figures reminding us of  universal esxistential themes , in that ebbing and flowing struggle between light and darkness under the sceptre of eternity...

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Manuzzi project- young artists alive and well in Veneto

The recent Manuzzi Progetto exhibition instigated by the principal and teachers at the local art school Pietro Selvatico Scuola DArte in Padova,Italy is a testament to the resilience of the staff  who are dedicated to re-expressing the Italian aesthetic through practical application of specialist materials-textiles,wood carving and goldsmithing/metalwork in collaborations between  departments in which 14 to 18 year-old  students can select to specialise in. All this achieved despite the economic and political instabilities that have had a devastating impact the Italian education system.
 Having taught 2 didactical Shibori courses to the teachers there over six years ago , it was gratifying to see the results being two group projects.The first was to reproduce the technique of shibori in metal in the goldsmithing department .A computer program for 3D forms was used and the modelmaking department constructed plastic forms that mimiced the 3D shapes and resembling architectural forms.
The exterior of the school with its neoclassical pillars ,badly in need of repair, belies a glorious light-filled pantheneon  atrium where there a permanent display of gesso replicas including a classical bust of Prof.Selvatico, a Padovan architect who founded the school.This is the life drawing studio for the students ,still an important subject in the Italian curriculum, contrary to the trend of overseas art schools that have axed this essential subject.
Pictured in the atrium with a current display of textile students work is Donatella Michelon,one of its dedicated weaving teachers who organised my workshops that focused on professional development in the area of dyes and shibori,the resist dye technique whose collective Japanese name is shibori.
Being an art gallery itself ,Selvatico is worth a visit if you are ever in Padova (request permission first of course! but the reception staff are friendly if you say,Per favore, posso dare solo una occhiata!Please can I  just want have a quick look!).There,classical Roman bass reliefs,life size Michelangelo slave series and Canova Baroque classics mingle with changing displays of the students work, contrasting between traditional and contemporary, interpreted in new mindset of the young e-generation,attesting to the enduring power of art to inspire successive generations.This is only possible if institutions like Selvatico are supported. I had a short encounter with the principal of the school who greeted me graciously but did not linger.She looked worried...she is soldiering on, according to the great Italian politician and philosopher, Antonio Gramsci's advice-
" I am pessimisitic by nature and optimistic by determination"