giovedì 20 aprile 2017

Decorative Grates in Florence

Here is a little collection of grates I have been photographing around Florence. I appreciate that the craftsperson who made the grate, whether it was 200 years ago or 50 years ago, delivered a practical grate  but did not ignore the visual aspect of how to creatively and pleasingly divide the space.

a few more:

giovedì 23 marzo 2017

Villa Palmerino

Villa Palmerino
Why do we hold the summer courses at the Villa Palmerino estate ? 

Villa Palmerino is a special place. The villa is situated on the outskirts of the city of Florence, right where the countryside begins, in the famous foothills of Maiano and Fiesole. This has been a sought after area for centuries for people who want to live the country life minutes from the city.

The villa itself has a long history of being a place for artists and creative people. Earliest records from the 1400s show the owners to be artists, a goldsmith, Ottaviano Antonio di Duccio, active in the courts of renaissance Italy with his brother, a well known sculptor called Agostino d`Antonio di Duccio.

Vernon Lee by J.Singer Sargent

Vernon Lee, here depicted in a portrait by John Singer Sargent, owned the villa in the 1800s. 
This famous English intellectual and writer was a woman with a strong belief in the arts. A circle of artists, writers and musicians naturally formed around her during her time at the villa and thus Palmerino has seen many famous visitors. Virginia Wolf, J. Singer Sargent, Henry James, Oscar Wide, Edith Wharton, Telemaco Signorini and Bernard Berenson have all passed through the villa’s gates, to name a few.

Federica shows us here grandfather's work
 The current owners of the Palmerino estate are three siblings. Our hosts are Federica, the eldest sister, and her husband Stefano. Federica's grandfather was a well known artisan in Florence. He ran a successful mural and furniture reproduction business in Florence in the early part of the 20th century. His studio was called to create murals and decoration in exclusive villas in many places in the world, from the Côte d'Azur to Florida. Federica conserves her grandfather’s original sketches for many of these projects and some of his oil paintings in the old studio on site at the villa.

view of the studio space from outside

working in the studio
 Federica’s aunt was a picture restorer with a love for art, and creative exchange. When she died in 2014, she left the villa to be run as a cultural association, continuing its purpose as a place for artistic retreats, providing accommodations and work space in a beautiful environment for creative people from all over the world. If it can be said that some places conserve a certain energy, this place truly does seem to exude an artistic vibe from its very walls.
a meal together after class
one of the many paths at Palmerino

giovedì 13 settembre 2007

Harpsichord in Paris

I am just back from Paris where I spent a week in the studio of the world renowned harpischord maker, Marc Ducornet.

Besides enjoying the atmosphere of Paris, I was painting a soundboard of an instrument called a 'muselaar'. To quote John W. McCoy's info on the web:

The Muselaar was a characteristic Dutch variation of the small rectangular or oblong instruments collectively called "The Virginals" in English. Those called "Muselaar" had the keyboard shifted toward the right side of the front of the instrument so that the plucking point was near the middle of all the strings, resulting in a harp-like tone. In fact, the Muselaar is acoustically just a small metal-strung harp laid on its side and boxed in.

The soundboard decorated in the Flemish style is meant to be a feast for the senses:

"[on the soundboard] were painted a crowded garden of stylized flowers, fruits, vegetables, insects, birds, and sometimes food (such as cooked and beheaded crustaceans and peeled lemons), animals and people. All things that could delight the senses in a garden were included, and it is entirely possible that the soundboard was meant to represent an allegory of the five senses - the birds for sound, flowers for sight and smell, food for taste, and the keys themselves, and perhaps the furry caterpillar and other insects, for touch."

Also resurrection symbolism:"The paired caterpillar and moth, often found on Flemish soundboards, were a commonly understood symbol of death's liberation of man's spirit from his body, which had been restricted to crawling the earth in life, but in "death" and rebirth could now soar freely. The goldfinch, often found as a resurrection symbol in vanitas still-life paintings, occurred frequently on soundboards."

"The Historical Harpsichord" Vol. 4 Harpsichord Decoration by Sheridan Germann.

mercoledì 29 agosto 2007

Melanie Royals and Gary Lord

Showroom open house -

In October the new Florence Art showroom will invite guests for a special presentation of various decorative works.
Melanie Royals and Gary Lord will lead a decorative workshop given to train students on a real large scale project:

the result of it will be the total refurbishment of Florence Art studio. Three teams of students will carry out different techniques on the walls; plus a large floor, designed by Melanie Royals, will be decorated with stenciled patterns on a special covering. Part of the decors will be made using special Safra finishes (Venetian Plaster, Cocciopesto and others) with 'Modello' stencils.
You are welcome to visit and see the finished work on October 19th from 6pm to 9pm.
Hope to see you there!

Venetian Plaster workshop

Course on polished plasters -

Venetian Plaster, Marmorino, Grassello and other special finishes from the Italian tradition.
Teacher: Carlo V. Mori.
Sept. 17-21.
5 days workshop (20 hours total) will provide a sufficient training to start making beautiful walls.
During the lesson students will be taught how to handle the tools of this craft (trowels and special 'knife-spatulas'), chromatic variations, wax and emulsion finishes. The gestures of the procedures, called 'calligraphies', are also part of the basic teaching of a creative application of the lime and plaster textures. We will be using Safra products, a high quality brand of lime based materials and other wall paint products.

See the calendar on Florence Art site. You have to scroll down on the new page to see related dates.