Sunday, 29 May 2011

Ciao Belli to the CoR XX

Sadly the students on the City of Rome Course who have been with us for the last two months, finished on Thursday this week. They were great to have around and I had some wonderful conversations with them all. Many of them were incredibly helpful with my research too, so thank you CoR. I shall miss you! (Not least, as you were my main sock source...)

I did a quick scout around on the roof on Friday and this was all I could find..

There was also a dusty old pair of boxers but I think St Ant and I have to draw the line somewhere..

The School seems strangely empty now and suddenly too there is some pressure as one realises that we are two thirds through and there is just one month left to go. There is one advantage though to having fewer people around and that is that we can now comfortably put things in the fridges - so less chance of repeating the episode a month ago of the forgotten fish..

Already it is beginning to feel as though things are beginning to wind down. On Wednesday night it was the American Academy Open Studios opening, so a few of us went along..

This is the entrance with one of the studios behind. Incredibly flash...

They have a lot more artists there, nineteen to our eight and they also had Chuck Close and William Kentridge in residence..

It was a beautiful evening

And a beautiful setting high up on the Janiculum Hill with incredible views over the city. There were loads of people there and they seemed to have a never-ending source of refreshments

We enjoyed (quite a few glasses of) their Prosecco..
Thank you to Kevin for these images as I stupidly, didn't bring my camera out with me. I must say though, that having experienced an evening of such splendour - we all decided that we very much prefer everything that we are experiencing at the BSR, not only does it feel more real but it is actually a whole lot more fun ( I bet you have to be on your best behaviour all the time at the AAR..)

All this week again, has been spent hard at work in the studio, I love it...

Here's a couple of views of this week's activity..

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Marmite/Vegemite Ban!

The conversation over breakfast this morning has been dominated by the announcement of the ban of Marmite AND Vegemite in Denmark!

It led to a long discourse on what the ban of these foodstuffs might mean? Would visitors to Denmark be banned from entering the country if they were carrying it for their own consumption - so that it could be like some kind of soft drug law? Will there now be sniffer dogs trained to detect traces around a person - could it be smuggled in one's socks? You could even disguise tubes of Marmite/Vegemite and pretend they were toothpaste (could give one a bit of a surprise first thing in the morning)..

Or if there is a complete ban, then it opens the floodgates for black (or rather brown) market activity... Already we are preparing our own Cartel, calling a truce on Marmite-Vegemite wars and joining together in common pursuit of dark, salty sticky stuff to spread on our toast all over the globe..

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

News from Purgatory

I realise that I haven't shared with you my recent visit to the Museum of Purgatory...

It is a very small museum and a lot of the exhibits are quite similar - usually involving a burned hand or fingerprints.. It was very dark inside and the people looking after it were actually very nice and not creepy at all, as you might expect.

I think I might try my own version of a message from Purgatory - possibly indenting my hand into some room temperature lard - having perhaps first smeared it in warm marmite - for that burnt kind of aesthetic?
What do you think?

Then I can wipe my hand on some starched fabric so that it looks like a greasy apparition from the other world..

That museum made me feel very uncomfortably at home - reminding me of things from my childhood that I thought I had forgotten....

Monday, 23 May 2011

Rapture and other stuff

What happened to the Rapture then?

A few of us were all on our way on the day, bouncing into the City centre on a 116 bus - it's incredibly bumpy over the cobbles - at around 6pm, the time when it was meant to happen (I do wonder if we weren't already in rapture as Rome is so beautiful - although the 116 bus does remind you that you are firmly on the ground and our driver was incredibly grumpy).

Amazing though, how everyone was talking about it and taking it so seriously - I was listening online on Radio 4 and it was all over the news - and then, nothing; not mentioned again, at all. That's the media for you..

Speaking of news - here's an update on the bike front - it's gone! Well, I can only think that one of two things happened

1. Whoever owned the bike saw us putting rubber gloves all over it and took umbrage and moved it


2. (Which I prefer to believe) that St Ant did his stuff and re-united it to it's owner and so, the collaboration continues.. (Bykeulike??)

Having been working away all week in the studio, I did reward myself by joining the CoR course on a visit to Tivoli on Saturday. We went to the Villa Adriana - Hadrian's Villa which is a hymn to conspicuous consumption and total excess but is also incredibly beautiful.

Hmmm...I didn't notice that bottom when I took the photo - I was too busy looking at what was in the water - why do they do that?? (This is very Italian - putting contemporary stuff in with incredible and wonderful ancient work)

Must be catching though - here's the male cohort of the CoR giving an academic appraisal to a statue of Venus..

(I blame that Robert...)

The one thing which has surprised me when visiting these ancient sites though is the scent which hits you. It is an overwhelming mixture of mint and rocket - which I romantically imagine has been seeded time and again in these places since roman times. Impossible really to convey but quite intoxicating. Even at the Villa Adriana once we were well inside, the mint smell was there but when we arrived there had been a very strong smell of sulphur which was quite unpleasant (perhaps an emanation of Hadrian's recreation of Hades, which no-one has found yet?)

Something else which was also a little disconcerting, was that I was experiencing this visit through the context of a film which a few of us had watched recently one Saturday, called 'Angels over America'. This is a film which features Mormons (in the guise of Meryl Streep) quite heavily in it (favourite line from Meryl in asking someone for street directions - "I'm sorry your'e psychotic but get a grip") anyway they all end up at one point in heaven - which is the Villa Adriana..This is a very weird association to have to deal with..

Which brings me to the subject of Mormons. I didn't want to tell you about this but I do have to mention that the strangest thing about the BSR, is the Academics' obsession with Mormons and in particular their heavy addiction to something called 'Big Love'. Most of the artists here are untainted but I have sadly (despite fighting this very hard) lost the battle - since I found myself watching one of the episodes from Series 2 with them last night. I have to say, it was utterly bonkers but completely gripping..

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Work in progress..

With our Mostra (Exhibition) coming up imminently, we are all feeling some urgency in getting work made. It's a bit of a juggling act really; I suppose I could just show some existing work (there is no pressure from anyone either at Photoworks or BSR to show new work at all) but for most of the artists here we all feel it would be good to show something new. It's a funny thing the creative process. I always find that although I might have a clear proposal for a body of work that I want to make, the environment around me at the time always throws up things which can intrigue, surprise and delight. Consequently I end up working on two or three things which are quite different but which each complement each other. This is happening now and I am finding the whole process very exciting.

Here are a couple of views of the studio...

Collaborating with St Anthony III

Here's the bike I mentioned before - I was worried it might have gone..

But it was still there and looking a bit sorry with all the bits of rubbish in its basket. It seemed totally the right thing to do to cheer it up a bit and at the same time make something that would please St Ant. I had some help..

from Raphael and Alice who proved to be brilliant grotto builders and together we made this..

we quite liked the symmetry of the back of the mirror and the chinese lantern..

On the way home, I found this..


Monday, 16 May 2011

Tempting fate..

I hate to admit it and despite my attempts at insouciance, I am actually a bit superstitious myself. This last Friday was the 13th May. I don't actually know where it comes from but when I was at school, everyone had a thing about not wearing green on Friday 13th; I never have until now...I was a bit surprised at myself, as I actually found myself hesitating before putting my (green) cardigan on!!

Anyway, I decided that I should tempt some fate - so armed with green clothing and all the geen objects that I could find (the schoolgirl superstition also involved not touching green things either..)

I really didn't want to put that (green) umbrella up in my studio

I made myself hold it up for 13 seconds too..

and nothing happened at all, after that.......all day!

Later on a whole lot of us went off to Otricoli in Umbria in the evening. We had been invited by Count Enrico Floridi to attend the Festival of San Vittore. Every year on 13th May, they hold a recreation of the martyrdom of San Vittore, a local saint who, although martyred in Egypt in the 2nd century, had his body transferred in the 14th century to Otricoli in Umbria (about an hour and half’s drive from Rome), where its arrival by boat is recreated. There are also Roman remains nearby and the wonderful Sophie Hay, an archeology specialist based at the BSR, who actually worked on this site gave us a tour of them

It was magical..

and wonderful to be in the countryside again..

After that we met with the Floridi family - who were delightful and so kind, giving us Aperitivi on their terrace, looking out onto the hill town of Otricoli as the sun went down..

We then went with them to the old town and had the most amazing rustic dinner in one of the restaurants there. The whole town was beautiful and lit with candles all along the streets.

Apparently poor San Vittore was martyred more than once as every time they tried to kill him he wouldn't die... We missed a bit of the ceremony but caught up with the procession as they brought him back to the church..

Sunday, 15 May 2011

Collaborating with St Anthony II

Interestingly, now that I have accepted that the sock situation is probably going to be a little limited, or as I like to think - exclusive - St Anthony hasn't let me down, since he is going great guns on the umbrella front..

..I'm sure I shall think up something to do with them...

The other thing that I am beginning to notice increasingly though, is a number of mechanically challenged bicycles - I have got my eye on one on the route to Flaminia Metro station..It is tethered at the moment but there's probably nothing to stop me enhancing it with a couple of umbrellas and my five socks now, is there?

However, I am rather pleased with the way that the sock situation is developing. This blog has now become a sort of Agency for people who through no fault of their own, have been forced to go sockless (or worse socked but mismatched!) St Ant (I think we're familiar enough now) and I, now find ourselves in this public service role for the retrieval and repatriation of sock to owner...I think we should have a name to call ourselves; what do you think? Sokulike perhaps or Fiveleftfeet??

This has all come about since last week, when Joey (Bryniarska lovely Sainsbury Scholar) had checked out my blog, she was looking for a decent carciofo recipe (how cool is that?!) But also discovered at the same time that the recently featured half sock was actually hers. Obviously, I returned it but that was the day that St Ant found me the black (completely clapped out) umbrella - so I did feel it was a fair swap...Anyway, Joey very generously, said that she had two other odd socks and would I like those..

I gratefully accepted and what do you know - I then found another one which had been hanging around the laundry room for over two weeks...(dangerous with me and St Ant on the loose..)

Now I've got five..

Saturday, 14 May 2011

Florence, frescoes and grottos

The last few days have been a flurry of activity and assimilation after the trip to Florence and Arezzo. I got seriously carried away by the Grotteschi which are the decorations made by renaissance artists on buildings - mostly interiors, mainly on ceilings so far that I have seen (Vatican Museum, Uffizzi Gallery)..

I really like the symmetry (with my own research intentions for coming here) of their history. When the ancient Roman sites were first discovered, a lot of it was under ground and could only be seen by climbing down with torches and candles. The Renaissance artists became fascinated with the frescoes and artworks which they saw when climbing down into the excavations. The roman sites became known as grottos and the artists recreated and reinterpreted much of these on their own walls and ceilings, calling them Grotteschi. They also became fascinated with the idea of grottos and made their own too. I saw a few when I was in the Boboli Gardens in Florence

We also saw tons of frescoes not only in museums like San Marco (which is one of my favourite places on Earth) but in the fabulous churches such as Santa Croce (another favourite)

And also at Santa Croce is this fabulous cloister, which I have loved since 1986 when I first saw it..

In Arezzo we revisited after 24 years the Piero frescoes of the Story of the True Cross in the church of San Francesco - the last time we saw them was on our honeymoon and they were just about to be restored, so what we could see was quite dark and covered in scaffold. So it was wonderful to see them fully restored and can't take photographs but here's an image I found on the web to give you an idea, with the beautiful Cimabue crucifix in front..