nice natiche

It is no secret that Italy is home to some of the most impressive classical statues in the world. The Piazza della Signoria in Florence has an abundance of marble crafted male genitalia, all notably underendowed (I will get to the reason for that shortly). In my opinion, the true forte of the 16th century sculptors was fashioning a fine set of buttocks. Florentine artist Baccio Bandinelli excelled himself with the spectacular derrière of Hercules, poised to slay Cacus for stealing his cattle.

The work was commissioned to stand to the right of the entrance of the Palazzo Vecchio, to balance Michelangelo’s David on the left. At around five metres tall, they are both rather imposing figures, although David is probably more widely known. Many aspersions have been cast on the size of David’s appendage and much has been written on the subject. Historians have reasoned that large penises were associated with unappealing characteristics such as foolishness, lust and ugliness, whereas a small member belonged to a rational, intellectual and authoritative man. In 2005, two Florentine doctors argued another theory that the impending fight with Goliath has caused some shrinkage due to fear. The reasoning is irrelevant, the point is, David’s real assets are viewed from behind.

There is a young man on the left of the doorway to the Palazzo Vecchio sporting a modestly poised fig leaf but he doesn’t rate a mention in any literature I could find. He may represent Adam and, although he is smaller in stature than Hercules and David, he too has a pleasing posterior.

Across from the palazzo in the Loggia di Lanzi, Flemish sculptor, Giambologna, has continued the custom with his work, The Rape of the Sabine Women (I must clarify, at that time the term ‘rape’ referred to abduction or kidnapping not sexual assault).

There are many more superb examples in the Piazza della Signoria although I wasn’t really aware of it at the time, I shall have to return for more extensive research. At Villa Reale di Marlia, the adolescent god Apollino presented a youthful rear

but this one had seen better days. Perhaps the marble will shine again with a good clean.

It seems it wasn’t only human bottoms that were given such attention to detail as we found at the Colosseum.

Bomarzo Garden

I had read about the Parco di Mostri in Bomarzo before going to Italy and it sounded fascinating. The Park of Monsters is the creation of Prince Pier Francesco Orsini who, although living in a rather fabulous palace, had his share of bad luck. In 1552, he returned from a war in which his friend had been killed and he was taken prisoner and his thoughts turned to planning a special garden. Five years later, his beloved wife, Giulia Farnese Orsini, died. As an outlet for his sorrow, he pushed ahead with the project and for more than thirty years dedicated his life to finishing the garden. In 1579, he noted in his diary: “I can find relief only in my beloved forest, and I bless the money I have spent and still spend on this magic area”.

Six years later, Orsini died at the age of 62. Sadly, after his death, the garden was abandoned and swallowed up by the forest until 1951 when an estate agent, Giancarlo Bettini, stumbled across the hidden monsters when looking for land to buy. He bought the whole lot and proceeded to restore the garden for its intended purpose. A short stroll from the ticket office

we come to the entrance.

A pair of sphinxes await and each plinth bears an inscription; “He who does not go there with eyes wide open and lips sealed will not be able to admire the most wonderful marvels” and “You who enter here put your mind to it part by part and tell me if some many marvels were made by deceit or by design”.

A series of heads depicting the Gods are scattered around, peering from shrubbery when you least expect it.

Proteus Glaucus represents the Greek God of the Sea, Proteus, and Glaucus, the fisherman who became a Sea God after eating a magical herb. The globe and castle atop the head are symbols of the Orsini family.

The ruined mausoleum is intentionally half destroyed and fallen over and we passed an intriguing gate in a stone wall.

Hercules and Cacus are embroiled in a very one-sided fight.

Nearby, a stream soothes the tension as it tumbles over the rocks

while the winged stallion, Pegasus, oversees the flow.

There is a turtle with a fairy on its back, both looking in the same direction as Pegasus.

Not too far away, a whale emerges from the water.

Dedicated to all nymphs, the aptly named nymphaneum seems to be guarded by a lion with a ball under his paw.

In front of it, there is a dormant fountain with dolphins each end

with Jupiter and Venus standing by.

Seven obelisks topped with sculpted heads form the audience at the theatre,

not far from the leaning house. One of the first constructions of the garden, it is thought to have been built at the request of Giulia.

We pass statues of Ceres, Roman goddess of agriculture and Neptune, Roman god of the sea.

An elephant carrying a castle appears, a symbol of strength and restraint, with a wounded or dead Roman soldier held in its trunk. 

Another fight is raging around the corner, this time a dog, a lion and a wolf are battling with a dragon. Three against one just doesn’t seem fair.

The Mouth of Hell, the Orc, the Ogre, whichever name you choose, it is nonetheless disturbing. The inscription on the top lip translates as, “all thoughts fly”. There is a picnic bench inside, not a very inviting setting in which to dine.

The Etruscan bench has a very well preserved inscription, “You who have travelled the world wishing to see great and stupendous marvels, come here, where there are horrendous faces, elephants, lions, bears, orcs and dragons”. Who can argue with that?

Continuing up some steps,

we come to the Hippodrome Garden, the perimeter is decorated with large pinecones and acorns.

At the near end, there is a bench surmounted by a female figure with a bifurcated fish tail

while the three-headed dog, Cerberus stands guard nearby.

At the far end are two bears, one carrying the family coat of arms and the other, a Roman rose.

On the other side sits Echidna, the half-woman half-snake (mother of Cerberus) and Fury, the female winged creature with a dragon’s tail and claws with a pair of lions separating the two.

The Rotonda is a circular fountain at the top of a staircase leading to the Tempietto.

The ‘small temple’ was the last construction of the garden as a memorial to Giulia, a symbol of her constancy, having remained faithful to her husband when he was absent at war. The ceiling is decorated with lilies, symbol of the Farnese family and roses, symbol of the Orsini family. Giancarlo and Tina Bettini, who restored the garden in 1952, are buried in the Tempietto.

Stunned, shocked and amazed, with Palazzo Orsini in our sights, we returned to the car to seek lunch in Bomarzo.

Casita Miro

Set on a hill with spectacular views overlooking Onetangi Beach, Spanish influenced Casita Miro was the second winery of our Waiheke Island tour.

A magnificent mosaic wall follows the entrance driveway, an intricate work of art created by the Bond family who have been growing grapes and making wine here for twenty years.

We were greeted by a lovely lady with the unusual name Meander, a legacy of Dutch hippy parents apparently, who led us through the award winning tapas restaurant.

The steps to the Bond Bar,

our venue to indulge in tastings of the Miro Vineyard wines, were edged with more astounding mosaics.

The view from the top, across vineyards to the ocean, was breathtaking.

In a sublime atmosphere, Meander navigated us through four wines, each one matched with a tasty morsel.

The Madame Rouge Walnuts were delicious. Roasted in Madame Rouge aperitif, a fortified blend of Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon grape juice, along with butter, cayenne, salt and brown sugar. With a glass of wine in hand we farewelled the Bond Bar and retreated to the restaurant to purchase a bucketful for future consumption.

paper on skin – the film

Last Friday evening, we attended the premiere screening of Design Eye Creative paper on skin 2020 – The Film. It was wonderful to watch these fabulous garments brought to life on the big screen and to have been a part of the journey. The film can be viewed as a whole or in sections and another presents a forum with the judges explaining their rationale. They can be viewed on the Burnie Arts Council website here, sit back and enjoy.

Winner of the $5,000 Design Eye Creative Major Award, Waratah by Amanda May (VIC)

paper on skin

The inaugural paper on skin competition transpired in 2012, the brainchild of Burnie denizen, paper artist Pam Thorne. The concept of wearable art links a strong history of paper making in Burnie with the creative talents of local and international artists. When we learned the major sponsor had withdrawn, we didn’t hesitate to offer our support and so, Design Eye Creative paper on skin 2020 became the new incarnation. Usually, the competition culminates with a gala parade and award evening, however, with the advent of social distancing regulations, a new strategy emerged. The award ceremony was live-streamed through Facebook followed by an exhibition of the garments at Burnie Regional Art Gallery for four weeks. In lieu of the catwalk parade, a series of films have been produced to allow a greater audience appreciation. We were privileged to witness some of the filming at the Burnie Arts & Function Centre. Tasmanian artist, Marion Kennedy, was on hand for last minute adjustments to her entry, Fathoms

and the seemingly simplistic Flow will be explained later.

The movies will be released on 4th September and I will publish the links when available. Meanwhile, join me at the exhibition. The competition is not themed and each entry, which must be made from at least 80% paper, has its own story. Guardian of the Southern Convergence, made with hand dyed indigo kozo paper by Liz Powell & Dr Denise N Rall (NSW) is based on the Antarctic Convergence, the threat from environmental change and the alliance of countries protecting it from exploitation.

Over 2,300 folded paper and silk paper spheres have been mathematically engineered and sewn together to create Flower of Life. Brielle Killip worked with Chris Geissinger & Jennifer Garber (Denver Colorado, USA) to produce a garment that is both a bold statement and is comfortable to wear, earning them the $2,000 Runner-Up Award as well as the $500 Public Vote Award.

When Queenslander, Karen Benjamin, conceived her idea for Flow, she had no idea how pertinent her entry would be. Made from toilet paper, each circle has been coloured with permanent marker and hand stitched, creating the illusion of flowing water. The degree of difficulty was enhanced when pandemic panic buying brought a halt to production but, on the up side, the idea for the face mask accessory was born.

Burgeon is an interesting collaboration between Portuguese paper artist and jeweller Renata Fukuda & fashion designer Marta Lisboa, playing with proportion in unpredictable ways.

Lorreny Vera from Victoria has tapped into her Venezuelan roots to create Queen Guacamaya, the queen of the jungle.

Toyo paper braid is the basis for Calligraphica by RR Pascoe (NSW) who has been creating artworks from reclaimed and sustainable materials for more than two decades.

Jade Kahle (VIC) has mastered the art of knitting and crocheting with paper string, enjoying the texture, stitch definition and sculptural effects to culminate in her entry The Esther Dress.

Paper card was the material of choice for Janine Hilder (VIC) for her pastel creation, Lantern Lass.

Although we had a preview of Fathoms at the filming session, I hadn’t realised the detail of the underwater world featured on the gown.

It may not have won any awards but Connie’s Coat stole my heart. A wonderful collaboration between Anne Gason, Barb Adams, Chris Rose, Chris Smith & Gail Stiffe (VIC), the handmade paper gives the illusion of a well-worn coat with a treasure in every pocket. There is a story behind this garment; “The Coat of Connie McBride: Connie sailed from Dublin to Melbourne in 1885 with her brother Darcy. After a few years trapped in the city slums they travelled to Jamieson VIC to prospect for gold. Darcy moved to Beechworth, but Connie befriended the publican of the ‘Diggers Exchange Hotel’ where she worked until it closed in 1911 due to the actions of the ‘Liquor Licence Reduction Board’. Connie lived until she was 95 (died 1970).”

46.Connie's Coat

Plotting paper has been used by Laila-Inga Mueterthies (Germany) for her piece, Papyria.

Stunning by design, the kozo and recycled paper entry Snowy Mountains Dreaming by Polly Crowden (NSW) pushed the boundaries of ‘wearable’.

Technology, art and fashion synthesise in Rockabetty by Tara Morelos & Liz Bradshaw (NSW).

If you have ever enjoyed a cup of tea you will appreciate the ingenious re-use of tea bags in New Life. Denise Lamby (QLD) spent hours drying soggy tea bags to reincarnate them in a fabulous, colourful art form.

The throwaway culture of the fashion industry is highlighted in the entry from Kate Dunn (NSW), Exposure.

The enigmatic Foggy Lady by Mali Klein (Netherlands) comprises an ensemble of handmade paper dyed with natural pigments.

Local Burnie artist, Joan Stammers, has created a spectacularly grand costume using recycled papers. The floral trimmings on Let them eat cake would be worthy of any garden competition.

With her 100% paper entry, Loong (Dragon) Tale, Simone Guascoine (NSW) has used sewing techniques taught by her grandmother to create her Japanese themed outfit.

The winner of the $5,000 Major Award, Amanda May (VIC), designed a beautiful, bright representation of the Australian native flower, Waratah. The vital work of our Australian native bees hasn’t been forgotten with the eco-addition of a Blue Banded Bee.

The pretty Pretend Print-cess by Kelcie Bryant (NSW) is reminiscent of a feminine sundress accompanied by a playful rabbit mask.

Handmade paper has been used by Amee Dennis (NSW) for her creation, Study of Grass.

The TasmAsian by Cynthia Hawkins is an intriguing fusion of her Malaysian roots and adopted home of Tasmania.

A second entry by Laila-Inga Mueterthies (Germany), Showtime, is truly stunning. With the use of plotter paper, we are taken back to a time when style meant elegance and sophistication.

Another local entrant, Chloe Townsend, has successfully transformed her concept to reality with the aptly named Flame.

With so many fabulous entries, choosing one for my public vote wasn’t easy but Musings On Things Ethereal by Kathryn Wilkinson (NSW) was outstanding. Mulberry paper, teabags and silk organza combine perfectly in this stunning creation, I would love to add this to my wardrobe.

Donna Vo (NSW) has used artisanal Japanese washi paper along with paper raffia for her composition, The Shedding. Her piece, “represents the shedding of ideals placed on a female as a child, a young adult and as a mother.”

Inspired by the natural world, Svenja (QLD) has shared her fascination in her design, Cosmic leafy sea dragon.

Unfortunately, two artists missed the judging due to upheavals in the postal system. Romanian Antoaneta Tica was selected as a finalist but her work was stranded when international freight and postage lines closed. However, she organised a photo shoot and it can be viewed on the paper on skin Facebook page. Tony Williams (Cleveland Ohio USA) also encountered problems with freight and his three entries arrived after the judging and filming but in time for the final week of the exhibition. Tony’s spectacular creations can also be seen on Facebook.

131.Film