Barga

On a perfect sunny spring day, we drove to the medieval walled town of Barga, an easy 45 minute drive from Lucca. We had learned it was easier to park outside these ancient towns and walk in rather than risk inadvertently driving into a pedestrian zone or the wrong way down a one way street. Crossing the bridge, we passed Parco Fratelli Kennedy, named in honour of American President John F. Kennedy and his brother Robert, both of whom were assassinated.

1.Parco Kennedy

The old stone aqueduct was built in the 15th century to supply clean water for the fountains and crosses the original moat of the old village.

1a.aqueduct Parco Kennedy

Narrow streets and steep steps hinted at what was to come once we were inside the walls.

Beautiful buildings lined the main thoroughfare

4.beautiful building

as we made our way to Porta Reale, one of the three gates in the medieval city walls. Below the observation tower, the gate still displays the ancient coat of arms of the city.

5.Porta Reale

The layout of the town has remained virtually unchanged since the 8th century, buildings at impossible angles hug narrow lanes, mysterious alleyways and stone steps.

We set off through the web of streets with no real destination in mind, happy to amble randomly in the sunshine. An interesting sculpture caught our eye

10.sculpture

outside the Teatro dei Differenti, Barga’s main theatre. Constructed in 1668 it was deemed too small at the end of the 18th century, a new structure was built on top of the old one.

11.Teatro dei Differenti

Along with the theatre, the adjacent buildings have been beautifully restored.

We decided to head to the highest point in the town once we spotted the bell tower of the Duomo di San Cristoforo.

14.Duomo di San Cristoforo

Our quest took us past the immaculate garden of the Palazzo Salvi,

15.Palazzo Salvi16.Giardino di Palazzo Salvi

less opulent but equally interesting plots

17.garden

and the myriad doorways we had come to expect.

We finally reached the cathedral, a spectacular edifice that I will need to cover in a separate post.

30.Duomo di San Cristoforo

The views across the rooftops to the Apuan Alps and the shrouded peak of Pania della Croce were stunning.

31.view

33a.view

Tearing ourselves away, we meandered back to town in search of sustenance, discovering a memorial garden in Piazza Garibaldi, adjacent to the Museum of Memory. A large sculpture entitled La Vedette (in military terms meaning the forward observer) was unveiled in 2009 on the 4th November, a day celebrated in Italy as the anniversary of the end of  World War I.

We reached Piazza Angelio at lunch time, a popular place in summer for exhibitions and entertainment. The particular shape and almost perfect acoustics of the piazza make an ideal setting for international festivals such as “Opera Barga” and “Barga Jazz”.

16th century poet Pietro Angeli, nicknamed Bargeo, watches over the piazza from the corner of Palazzo Angeli.

The offerings on the blackboard at L’Osteria enticed us in, we weren’t disappointed.

41.L'Osteria

With much of the town still to see, we continued our wanderings in a different direction.

45.narrow street

Colourful homes lined the street

48.colourful houses

and some clung precariously to the edge of the cliff.

49.fabulous homes

All had magnificent views of neighbouring hilltop towns and verdant countryside.

50.hilltop town51.views

The aqueduct and Kennedy Park were behind us

52.aqueduct

as the outskirts of town stretched in front.

53.Villa Buenos Aires

The 17th century Chiesa di San Felice, was quite small and understated when compared to others we had seen on our travels.

54.Chiesa di San Felice55.Chiesa di San Felice

Outside the church was this memorial plaque, apparently dedicated to a Scotsman with an Italian name. It seems Barga has a strong connection to Scotland, with many residents emigrating there in the 19th century in search of work when industry in Tuscany suffered a decline. They won the Scots over with their gelato making skills and, coupled with a knack for cooking fish and chips, made great success out of their cafés and restaurants. Over the generations, some returned to Barga and now sixty percent of the town’s 10,000 residents have Scottish relations. The annual Festival of Fish and Chips, Sagra del Pesce e Patate, celebrates this connection for three weeks each July/August. I can’t find any clues as to the life of Mario Moscardini but I assume he made a considerable contribution to Barga.

61.memorial

Working our way along Via di Mezzo, we found an interesting little face peering out from the wall of a restaurant. It is known as a scacciaguai, a folk magic figure that protects from trouble and harm. Hopefully, the charm has worked for the restaurant of the same name.

62.scacciaguai

Three doors along, we paid a visit to Casa Cordati, a 17th century palazzo that was once the studio of local artist Bruno Cordati.

63.Casa Cordati

It is now owned by his grandson, Giordano, and offers rather sumptuous accommodation as well as an extensive gallery on the first floor. The rooms on this floor have been preserved as they were during Bruno Cordati’s creative years, the views were nothing short of inspirational.

Our exploration of this magical town had come to an end as we reached the Piazza della Santissima Annunziata and the 16th century church of the same name. The 19th century façade was badly damaged by artillery shells in World War II and was later restored.

72.Piazza della Santissima Annunziata

There was only one thing left to do to make the day complete.

73.gelati

TarraWarra

I recently spent a wonderful week in Victoria with my very special friend who I met many years ago in high school (she now lives too far away in Darwin). We arrived on flights within an hour of each other (quite a feat from opposite ends of the continent), collected a hire car and drove a circuitous route to our destination, Healesville. After a short visit to a couple of wineries (a little too early in the day for tasting, even for me), we stopped by for a look at TarraWarra Museum of Art. Philanthropists Eva and Marc Besen began collecting works of art in the 1950s and realised their vision of establishing their privately funded museum with the opening of TarraWarra in 2003. The elegant building is the result of a competition between five of Melbourne’s outstanding architects. Allan Powell’s winning design hugs the contours, complementing rather than imposing on the landscape.

1.Tarrawarra Museum of Art2.TarraWarra Museum of Art3.TarraWarra Museum of Art

The scenery is sublime, adjacent to the TarraWarra Estate vineyards

4.TarraWarra Museum of Art5.TarraWarra Museum of Art6.estate

and further afield to the ranges.

7.view

We wandered into the current exhibition, The Tangible Trace, immediately awestruck by the light and magnitude of the gallery. There were numerous glass display cabinets (I now know they are called vitrines) containing stones, tiles, bits of brick and cubes of termite clay.

8.Domino Theory, Simryn Gill

The materials have been collected by artist Simryn Gill from around her studio in Port Dickson, Malaysia, near one of the world’s busiest trade routes, the Strait of Malacca. The pieces are traces of the movement of capital and power and the title, Domino Theory, refers to the Cold War concept that if one country fell to communism, others in the region would follow like dominoes, a policy used by the U.S. to justify its involvement in the Vietnam War.

An abandoned seaside motel in Port Dickson was Simryn Gills inspiration for Passing Through. The series of monotypes were created by placing coloured inks on the small white tiles of the former dance floor and imprinting onto paper.

14.Passing Through, Simryn Gill

The distorted, partially collapsed outline of Australia, Shilpa Guptas Map Tracing #7 – AU, was somewhat disturbing. The copper pipe has been manipulated to change the shape of the border, inviting us to consider the, “porous relationship between inside and out”.

16.Map Tracing #7 - AU, Shilpa Gupta

The large concrete slab covering the floor nearby, another of Shilpa Guptas creations, is engraved with the phrase, “The markings we have made on this land have increased the distance so much” in English, Hindi, Arabic and Chinese. The slab was smashed into fragments on site with the intention that the audience will each take away a piece and at the end of the exhibition, only a trace will remain.

17.engraving on concrete, Shilpa Gupta

The huge paintings of Carlos Capeláns Implosions series filled the walls of the next gallery.

21.Implosion series, Carlos Capelán

Upon entering the gallery, we were asked not to touch the curtains in the hallway as they were, in fact, an art installation. Sangeeta Sandrasegar has created five panels of Indian khadi cotton over-hung with silk organza, hand-dyed with indigo and Australian native cherry. What falls from view covers the windows in the Vista Walk gallery, changing the Yarra Valley landscape outside as the material wafted gently in the breeze.

22.What falls from view, Sangeeta Sandrasegar

The picture framed at the end of the hallway showed nature at her best.

23.view

What could be more beautiful than autumn hues in the morning sunlight?

24.autumn colours

mapali

Last month, the tenth biennial Ten Days on the Island festival inhabited Tasmania once again. Previously, the program has run throughout the state over the course of ten days. This year, it was split over three weekends, firstly in the northwest, then the northeast and concluding in the south. We  couldn’t resist the opportunity to experience the opening of the festival on the beach at Devonport at sunrise. mapali was a celebration at first light, narrated by David mangenner Gough, featuring over a hundred performers from the indigenous community, Slipstream Circus acrobats, Taiko Drummers, school students and a community choir. We didn’t anticipate the crowd and lack of parking, the fires were alight by the time we reached the beach.

1.mapali

David’s voice was clear as he led a Welcome to Country ceremony, acknowledging the significant history of the northwest coastline and local aboriginal communities with the sweeping and smoking of the beach.

3.fires

The kelp gatherers made their way eerily from the shore in the firelight.

2.kelp harvesters

With the rhythmic beat of Taiko drums resounding in the still morning air,

4.Taiko drums

our attention turned to a solitary dark figure suspended in a hoop above the sand.

The drumming ceased while a chorus of ethereal voices harmonised from the balcony.

8.choir

Our senses feasted as a fusion of drums and chorus accompanied the visual spectacle evolving against the peppery hue of nature’s backdrop.

7.Taiko drums & choir9.acrobat

We were next summoned to the village, a representation of a traditional village of the punnilerpanner people who have lived in this area since the beginning of time.

18.the village

On this, International Women’s Day, David spoke in honour of the women who hunted off the coast for shellfish

19.David mangenner Gough

and gathered kelp to clad the huts.

20.kelp hut

He also paid respect to ongoing traditions that the women are passing on to the young, in particular, shell stringing. For thousands of years, Aboriginal women have been collecting maireener shells to make necklaces and bracelets. The shells can only be collected at certain times of the year and each necklace has a unique combination and pattern. Local schoolchildren had made huge effigies of the shells in readiness for this moment.

21.maireener shells

David instructed those positioned around the edge of the village to hold up the rope, a symbol of the twine that binds us together as people, and string on the maireener shells to represent a giant necklace.

22.maireener shells

He then commanded the lighting of patrula, meaning fire in palawa kani, the language of Tasmanian Aborigines.

With the sunrise ceremony concluded,

the crowd dispersed, the beach resumed its peaceful sublimity

27.Bluff Beach

and we went in search of breakfast.

 

Looking Out for Each Other

Last month, I posted about a day spent at the Tamar Valley wineries and the sculpture exhibition, Artentwine. At Iron Pot Bay Vineyard, there was a memorable installation in the garden, this is what I wrote,

‘The man in blue, poised in the garden, sported an outfit knitted with baling twine. My sister and I had been at Deloraine Craft Fair the previous weekend where we had seen numerous knitters eagerly creating something with the blue baling twine. It seems artist, Grietje van Randen, has enlisted volunteers to help complete a double life size Blue Farmer to be sited on a local farm to raise awareness of those living with depression and as a reminder for us all to be looking out for each other.’

The project is now complete and the full size blue farmer stands proudly at Deloraine. This is a wonderful interview with Grietje van Randen

4.at deloraine

Photo courtesy of the ABC

Our property here in northwest Tasmania is surrounded by agricultural farmland, we can attest to the long hours our neighbours toil. Morning, noon and sometimes all night, seven days a week and at the mercy of increasingly unpredictable weather patterns. Without these incredible people, we would have nothing on the table to serve our families each day. How easy it is to pick produce from the grocers shelf without a thought for those whose livelihood depends on what we are willing to pay.

Here is a great news story of the completion and final placement of the blue farmer

5.at deloraine

Photo courtesy of the ABC

Artentwine

I recently spent a weekend in Launceston with my sister who was here on holiday. Not that we needed an excuse to visit wineries, but the Artentwine sculpture exhibition was added incentive. The biennial competition started in 2014 and features contemporary sculptures by Australian and international artists, displayed at five wineries in the West Tamar. After driving up the East Tamar, we crossed the Batman Bridge and began our adventure at Goaty Hill. The three sculptures on display were set against the backdrop of beautiful vistas and vineyards. The bronze Seated Figure by Jason Farrow caught my eye and was still my favourite at the end of the day. I’m not going to include all the artist statements or this would be a very long post, but I found Jason’s summation quite moving; “Walking under the iconic coke sign of Kings Cross, Sydney, I noticed this guy, sitting there on the steps. Deep in thought, lost in anguish, you couldn’t really tell. Wherever he was, was a long way from here.”

1.Seated Figure

Jason Farrow, ‘Seated Figure’

2.My Other Half

Nicole Allen, ‘My Other Half’

3.CAUTION. This Is Not a Life Saving Device

Christopher Trotter, ‘CAUTION: This is not a life saving device’

Armed with two bottles of 2016 Goaty Hill Riesling, we moved on to Iron Pot Bay Vineyard. We only saw four of the five sculptures as they were positioned in rooms where people were eating and a little difficult to view. Simon Pankhurst’s, The Battle Between Needs and Wants, had been displayed upside down, not the best angle.

4.Wintery Mood

Peter Steller, ‘Wintery Mood’

7.The Night Hunter

Mela Cooke, ‘The Night Hunter’

The man in blue, poised in the garden, sported an outfit knitted with baling twine. My sister and I had been at Deloraine Craft Fair the previous weekend where we had seen numerous knitters eagerly creating something with the blue baling twine. It seems artist, Grietje van Randen, has enlisted volunteers to help complete a double life size Blue Farmer to be sited on a local farm to raise awareness of those living with depression and as a reminder for us all to be Looking Out For Each Other.

We added a bottle of 2016 Pinot Grigio to our collection and drove the short distance to neighbouring Holm Oak Vineyard where a further eight sculptures awaited. The setting was magnificent, unfortunately Smultronstalle and Impression VI were presented back to front, a little disappointing for the artist I would imagine.

18.Smultronstalle

Christie Lange, ‘Smultronstalle’

20.Impression VI

Paul Murphy, ‘Impression VI’

11.Monument of Indifference

Gene McLaren, ‘Monument of Indifference’

14.Water Light

Lisa de Boer, ‘Water Light’

15.Fisherman & Fisherwoman

Sallie Portnoy, ‘Fisherman & Fisherwoman’

19.Perpetual Growth

Vlase Nikoleski, ‘Perpetual Growth’

21.Tall Poppy

Peter Rozario, ‘Tall Poppy’

The competition was won by Wayne Hudson for Pledged which will become a one and a half metre diameter sculpture for the public. A light will be positioned below the ring and shine through the centre, I think it will be quite spectacular.

12.Pledged

Wayne Hudson, ‘Pledged’

A bottle of Duffy 2018 Rosé accompanied us to the next location, Moores Hill Estate. Some of the twelve sculptures were difficult to photograph against the background of corrugated iron and I was disappointed to see Fate had been damaged – the boat should be suspended within the frame but the supporting wires had broken.

23.Fate

Jamie Dobbs, ‘Fate’

Ask and thou shalt receive by Al Roberts was my close second favourite, the man’s face had so much character. It is no wonder it won the People’s Choice award. The artist’s statement is worth sharing here; “ I wanted a turtle dove as an artistic reference for a potential sculpture. I spoke to a friend of mine that is a hunter and she agreed to acquire one for me on her next hunt. Shortly after our conversation my friend arrived home, and by strange twist of fate, she immediately heard a thud behind her on the glass door. She looked down on the ground outside to see a small turtle dove twitch and take its last breath. Feeling guilty, even though the bird died of natural causes, and unsure what to do now my ‘wish’ had been granted, I decided that I needed to make the most out of its life by immortalizing it as part of my sculpture. As with many things in nature and life, we have been given exactly what we need, but still have no idea how to make to the most of it.”

22.Evidence of Passing

David Doyle, ‘Evidence of passing’

25.Changing Tracks

Mary vandenBroek, ‘Changing Tracks’

24.Kanamaluka

Catherine Phillips, ‘Kanamaluka’

29.Illusion

Ben Fasham, ‘Illusion’

30.Continuous

Ben Beams, ‘Continuous’

31.Star Finder

Di West, ‘Star Finder’

32.Nudibranchor

Dan Kershaw & Sara Ferrington, ‘Nudibranchor’

33.Bait

Lynette Griffiths, ‘Bait’

35.curious dream of an architect

Fatih Semiz, ‘curious dream of an architect’

37.Twitter Birds

Cheryl Sims, ‘Twitter Birds’

The views from Moores Hill were breathtaking, as was the 2016 Chardonnay and 2017 Riesling that I just couldn’t leave behind.

38.Moores Hill Vineyard39.Moores Hill Vineyard

Our final venue for the day was Tamar Ridge Cellar Door, in an enviable position with magnificent panoramas of the Tamar River.

40.Tamar Ridge Vineyard

Ten sculptures were on display throughout the extensive premises, although we only found eight. We didn’t partake of tastings here, I will have to return on my next trip to Launceston.

41.Changing Landscape

Keith Smith, ‘Changing Landscape’

43.Finding the Lost

Anita Denholm, ‘Finding the Lost’

44.Brigid of the West

Robert Boldkald, ‘Brigid of the West’

45.Estuary

Rob Ikin, ‘Estuary’

47.Discourse

Craig Ashton, ‘Discourse’

50.Formation

Ben Beams, ‘Formation’

51.Panspermia

Christina Palacios, ‘Panspermia’

52.Above and Below

Barry Smith, ‘Above and Below’

For more insight into the sculptures, the artist statements can be found in the catalogue.

Artentwine 2018 Catalogue