ROME AND TODI
I have returned from an amazing trip to Italy which would not of been possible without the support of Arts South Australia and a lot of hard work on my end.
My trip started in Rome, crazy busy, so many tourists clambering to see the sights. My goal was to see the sights early in the morning including the obligatory drop of pennies into the Trevi Fountain then try and avoid the crowds by visiting some galleries, which worked a treat.
I stumbled upon this building (below), the Palazzo Venezia, one of Rome's most important Renaissance buildings, beginning its life in 1455, becoming the Republic of Venice's embassy in 1564, the property of Austria in 1797 and finally the Italian state took back possession in 1916 turning it into a museum of medieval and modern art. Here's some highlights from Palazzo Venezia.
Another museum of note, was the National Museum of Rome. This museum housed some pretty fantastic antiquities including jewellery and a comprehensive display of mosaics and frescos. Here are some highlights.
After a couple of days I headed by bus to Todi which is located in the Umbria region. The town of Todi lies on top of a hill and according to ancient myth, Todi was founded by the Veii Umbri on the site where an eagle dropped a rough cloth taken from their table, which is where the towns coat of arms derives. This place is magical, some buildings date back before 1200 and the Palazzo del Popolo was built in 1213.
I spent a few days wandering the town, visiting the amazing churches and cathedrals, taking in the sites before I began a week-long masterclass with goldsmith Giovanni Corvaja. There were 4 other makers in the class, two from Scotland, one from Latvia and one from Armenia (now living in Thailand). I had the most wonderful time there with everyone, I truly felt welcomed and fell in love with the town.
Giovanni was kind enough to show us all his amazing work, what a treat to be able to handle the work of someone I have admired for a long time.
Here are some pieces...
I learnt the traditional technique of granulation by firstly alloying my own ingot of 18ct gold and then rolled and drew the metal into sheet and wire to make samples of the process.
During the week I spent the time experimenting with the technique while also taking advantage of being around the other participants and the extensive resources in Giovanni's studio.
I was sad to say good bye to Todi, I would have to say it was the highlight of my trip, both the history of the place, the people, the food, somewhere I'd like to come back to.
FLORENCE - FIRENZE
After an eventful trip from Todi to Florence (which saw me destroying my bag on the many cobblestones I ventured across), I was ready to take it a bit easier, so I walked 25kms on my first day there! I'm glad I packed a lot of bandaids.
This day was dedicated to visiting The Pitti Palace and Gardens, Bardini Garden and a wander over the river, which ended in a visit to Casa Buonarroti, a wonderful museum with the most friendliest curator who gave me some good tips for other smaller museums with decorative art collections.
The main reason I wanted to visit the Palace was because they house an extensive collection of jewellery in the Silverworks Museum, the only downside was that I was not allowed to take photos, which was massively disappointing as there were things I have never seen before and would never get to see again, it was fantastic to visit all the same.
The gardens were dotted with so many sculptures and water features as well as grottos such as the one below.
A walk further up the hill brought me to another garden and a building that houses a Porcelain Museum. I was able to take photos here but they aren't the best due to the fact the building has so many windows and lots of reflections.
Adjacent to the Pitti Place Gardens is the Bardini Garden with some great views of Florence.
I decided to head over the river into the centre of Florence where all (and I mean, all) the people were, so I had a gelato and searched for somewhere to get away from the crowds. I found the Casa Buonarroti Museum, and what a find it was.
The Casa Buonarroti was a residence that Michelangelo Buonarroti Younger lived, he was the nephew of Michelangelo. The museum is in possession of a number of drawings, sculptures and paintings by Michelangelo. The room above was a eulogy designed by his nephew and the paintings depict meetings between Michelangelo, Popes and sovereigns.
The following day I visited the Bargello and the Horne Museums, and I was rewarded with collections that absolutely blew me away. Side note: I have taken a good thousand photos on my trip, a lot of which I want to keep for my own reference, so I am only sharing a few from each place I visited to give you an idea of what I saw.
The afternoon was spent in the Archaeological Museum of Florence which had the most outstanding collection of Egyptian artefacts including sarcophagus, everyday items, jewellery, the works...
The last leg of my trip, Milano. The day after I arrived I met Irene Belfi at her gallery to unpack my work for my artist talk. A small group of people came to hear me chat about my practice. It was nice to meet some other makers and also speak to some students who were early on in their jewellery education.
The last couple of days in Milan were taken up with sight seeing and a bit more Museum and Gallery hopping.
I am very thankful for being able to take this trip to Italy, I hadn't travelled to Europe for a very long time and I would not of been able to without some financial assistance afforded me through an Arts South Australian Grant. This trip has been beneficial to me both personally and professionally. It has given me some time away from my regular work routines, at the bench and teaching. I feel a real sense of excitement for how this trip will influence new work next year.
I've learnt a new technique in the place it was perfected hundreds of years ago. I have made genuine connections with those I have met along the way, which really, is what it's all about.
It's been challenging traveling on my own, but with those challenges has come a real sense of belief in myself and what I am capable of doing. All that said, I am happy to be home.