Saturday, 25 June 2011

Collaboration with St Anthony IV

I rather thought that St Anthony had given up on our collaboration but I just wasn't noticing properly..I expect my mind was elsewhere for a while, finishing work off etc.

Anyway, I got a little nudge recently when I almost fell over this

not only was it perfectly positioned along the single yellow line but it was totally incongruous, being seafaring footware bang smack in the middle of Rome (where believe me, no-one would be seen dead wearing such an article!)

I immediately knew that St Ant was back...I began to look out for other signs

I didn't feel I could add much to either of these as it was doubtful that even if they were reunited with their owners - who would want them?

St Anthony has been finding me all sorts of odd things recently though

(he does seem to have a thing about road signage at the moment..)

These are no good without their sides (or lenses)...

I'm not sure what I can do with any of these - apart from just take notice of them...

Right now, I'm packing (which I really hate) and over the next two (last) days I must think of something to do with the items he found for me here at the BSR - already my umbrellas have multiplied

And this is the last sock - found today...

Sock grotto..

..had to be done really...(umbrella one tomorrow..)

Friday, 24 June 2011

So little time...So much gelato...

Well, it has been busy this last couple of weeks which is why it's been a bit quiet on the blog front and then I got laid low for a few days with what turns out was probably heat stroke! I wouldn't wish it on anyone - the only way to be, was horizontal and I'm not going to say any more than that. Everyone here was so kind, supplying me with flat coke, painkillers and crackers..

Last week was rather special as we went on a day trip to Caprarola to the Farnese Summer Palace..

I had to get this picture from the website..The palace is on the top of a hill in the north of the Lazio Region which Rome is part of. This is the view across from it..

The day had a lovely end of term kind of air to it; the Mostra was up, most of the Scholars had presented their papers and just us all heading off into the countryside in a coach was enough to get me searching for my packed lunch (even though I knew we had a wonderful lunch ahead of us in a splendid lakeside restaurant nearby)..I was amazed that no-one started singing!

I know if I was doing this properly, I would have all the information to hand about the Farnese dynasty and the architects etc but there are other sites where you can find all that stuff out. Here are some images in the order of going through the building, beginning with the staircase up to the formal rooms. This is a small selection of my response visually to it. You will see for yourselves how fabulous the place is and just how staggeringly wealthy the family was...

This grotto was in this first room

Some more views of the frescoes and the view out over the town...

Each room got more and more spectacular

Kevin and Cordelia marvelling at this little ante room..

The whole place had you gasping until this one, for me, the piece de resistance...(hmm I ought to have done that in Italian..)

After this was the garden!

I felt as though I had wandered into a Peter Greenaway film..

Afterwards we all had a splendid lunch by a lake..

It was a fabulous treat after all the stresses of preparing work for presentation of all kinds as well as wonderful to be away from the city and the quite oppressive heat..

Now that we are counting the days, my weekend rule has rather slipped and I have been busy trying out gelato all over the place. Favourites so far: Raspberry with sage (delicious), Fig with ricotta and almond (yummy), Cassata (I know it's old fashioned but you can't beat a good one) and I have noticed Licorice, I haven't plucked up the courage to try that one yet - the gelateria of that flavour is rather posh and covers the ice cream up with lids; we were debating what colour it would be - I think it has to be black..I'll let you know...

Sadly my ice cream research all took a nosedive this week (when I got poorly) but I mean to make up for it on my last 3 days...

Some of us (mentioning no names) are almost mainlining ice cream

This was his second!!

We made him walk home..

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Supreme Magic

After the excitement of the Mostra opening, one always experiences a bit of a dip, more releief really that the work is up, stayed on the walls and no-one threw rotten tomatoes at you. So it was a nice weekend but very quiet; I ended up doing my laundry on Saturday.

Sunday though, was a very special day. Rosslynd had heard about an event that happens every year at the Pantheon for Pentecost, when rose petals are thrown down from the oculus into the church. So Rosslynd, Peter, Alice and I set out early on Sunday as we were very keen to experience this.

Even at 9am there were masses of tourists inside the Pantheon and everyone was being turfed out for the preparations for the mass at 10.30am, so we had some time to kill and went to Cafe St Eustachio for coffee and buns..

This cafe is claimed to make probably the best coffee in Rome, I think they could be right...

There was again, the most enormous scrum of people waiting to get into the Pantheon and not for mass (it is a church!) I was actually beginning to wonder if this was a good idea after all.. It took an age for the service to get going and was very interesting to experience a Roman Catholic mass again. The last time had been about 30 years ago at a funeral in Newcastle.

First of all, it really is pure theatre; and it is so clever, as it is a theatre form which is totally inclusive for all levels of society. The Church of England could learn quite a lot from this, as so much of CofE works on excluding whole swathes of different people through their forms of worship (but that's for another time...).

Anyway, what was brilliant (and I mean intelligent brilliant) was that they started off with a marching band which was totally democratic and fun as it was proper oompah and then they sang Ave Maria with the oompah (which made me cry, I get moved at the smallest things) then there was plainsong and straight away you know that you are being messed around with emotionally just through the music.

Then the mass started properly and the setting then was a 16th Century Mass (might have been Palestrina but of that ilk) and intensely beautiful. That's how you get got..

And when I say theatre - I really mean it - check this out, the priest was talking about the Holy Spirit when this happened..

Thank you to Peter for letting me show his video.

Also the other really weird thing is that you find yourself responding (in song and in words) as those responses have been early learnt and ingrained...(for those of you who haven't seen my proposal for this fellowship, I underwent RC catechism at the age of 7..) As anyone knows who goes to Mass, there is a building sequence until the Communion, which is the climax. On this occasion though it continued to build. Everyone knew what was going to happen but I think we all expected something different - I had imagined that the petals would be pink but they weren't

and that they would float down gently and settle on the floor like feathers or snowflakes that is, silently

but as each one landed it made a sharp thwacking sound and not only that, when they landed on you, they were literally slapping you!

And the most surprising thing - at each thwack/slap - molecules were released, so that the whole place became filled with the scent of roses; as well as all that, there was the music. It was all quite overwhelming and intensely beautiful.

Here's a video which Rosslynd made - I thought I had video'd it but discovered that I had forgotten to press the button

Very soon there was a carpet of crimson on the floor

and everyone was laughing and delighting in it all (very like my one experience of going skiing)

I got covered

It was deeply serious but incredible fun all at the same time..huge pomp

If you know the Pantheon, you will know that it is terribly high and the Oculus is much wider than you imagine, approximately 9 meters diameter I think. Anyway it turns out, that it was all done with the help of the fire brigade!

Here's Peter thanking one of them after the service

Monday, 13 June 2011

Fountains & Drains

Clockwise from bottom left: Kevin Mackay, Joanna Bryniarska, Sue Russell (Deputy Head of BSR) Varda Caivano, SB, Rosslynd Piggott, Katherine Lapierre, Jacopo Benci (Fine Art Director, BSR), Geraldine Wellington (Residence Manager, BSR), Diana Taylor and Richard Gaspar

This is the Fine Art cohort attempting to do louche on the BSR steps - five minutes before our opening..
Someone, Richard I think, suggested we channel Bullingdon Club; we failed happily...

I should have mentioned before, that we owe our title Fountains & Drains, to the very lovely Peter Partner who was here at the end of April. It was something he had said in a passing conversation with Rosslynd (about the school in bygone times and Rome) and the moment she told us, we knew that we had the perfect title for our show. Thank you Peter!

I decided to test my SAR shoes (Swanning-About-Rome) I have been saving them for this very occasion..

(£4 in a Plymouth charity shop - bargain!) they were fine for the first two hours but torture after...

The opening was really well attended

The man in the hat is Joseph Kosuth

And here are some of the artists with their work..

luckily the weather stayed fine

Thank You to Peter Fane-Saunders for these pictures of the evening.

Afterwards we held our own party in the dining room although on a much, much smaller scale than the one we attended at the German Academy, (more school disco or family party in your parents' front room) it was very British and rather fab!

Here are some general views of the show which I took on Saturday, it's on until 18th June and if you are in Rome then we would love to see you!

Here's Kevin, he was doing the same thing for his blog - I can't get the link to work but the address is: and it is all filed under 'Rome Diary'