Archive for April, 2013

Michael Cartwright
Michael Cartwright

La Rondine Gallery is in Hong Kong!  Flying like swallows to warmer climes, the nomadic artists of La Rondine Gallery have sent their art to Hong Kong. Seven of us will be represented here, at Gallery ZZHK, a lovely space with an eclectic, almost Parisian character, in a small laneway, Wu Lane, just off Hollywood Rd in Central.  The exhibition is from 14th till 28th May.  We are really excited.  In celebration of our inaugural flight and for the opening night, Marc Danays, a high profile master mixologist, has created the artists’ cocktail and called it La Rondine.  Absolut Vodka is sponsoring us and has supplied the vodka for the drink.  It’s amazing to have been offered this opportunity to show our work at this high time of the HK Basel Art Fair, when collectors are everywhere about town and all the galleries are pumping.

Kevan Halson
Kevan Halson
Sollai Cartwright
Sollai Cartwright

Our artists are great!!  Jacob Cartwright, Kevan Halson, Sarah Danays, Sollai Cartwright, Candido Martinelli, Michael Cartwright, Shona Nunan.  They range from 74 years of experience and love for the arts to 24 years of age, the youngest no less for his age.  They are photographers, sculptors, painters, drawers; creating marble sculpture and bronzes from the famed studios of Michaelangelo’s Pietrasanta; photography of mountain people, reflections and exquisite atrophy; themes of ancient myth, the human journey, the balance of life; the artist’s hand representing the spiritual beauty of our world culture.

Sarah Danays
Sarah Danays

Michael and I have been here in Hong Kong for the last three weeks.  We brought over in our luggage huge frames and photographs, lugged them up fifty million stairs to our little room on Hollywood Rd.  We also sent over a box of marble and bronze sculptures which have arrived and surround us on every available space in our room.  Our room would make a great gallery at the moment, one person at a time to view an amazing selection of art.  I love lying in bed at night with the art perched up all around us, the energy huge, and it will be strange to be without it when finally the work goes down into the gallery.

Jacob Cartwright
Jacob Cartwright
Candido Martinelli
Candido Martinelli

We have been so busy since we arrived here.  We have an Artist in Residence at the Chinese International School in North Point.  It has been great to be here, in our studios everyday, working .  We have heaps of lovely visitors, young students, teachers, parents, cleaners – it has been really beautiful.  Every night we almost fall into bed but not before doing all the funny bits and pieces you have to do to get an exhibition ready; press releases, invitations, meetings with sponsors, hunting supermarkets and drink places for ingredients for our La Rondine cocktail, invitation lists….. Our energy gets expanded to the max when we come here.

Shona Nunan
Shona Nunan
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Bagni di Lucca ~ Ponte a Serraglio
Bagni di Lucca ~ Ponte a Serraglio

On a late summer’s day last year, under a pergola dripping in wisteria and overlooking splendid vistas, a thought was born to a philanthropist and his friends, to have an art festival in Ponte a Serraglio.  For years we had all been coming here, and every year another one or two shops would close down.  It seemed unbelievably sad that such a beautiful and elegant town with such a salubrious history should disappear, becoming shabbier over the years and less and less inviting to visit.

Artists walking in the mountains above Bagni di Lucca
Artists walking in the mountains above Bagni di Lucca

As with all intrinsically beautiful places, artists are already attracted to this town with its gracious old buildings and surrounding mountains and walks up to the ancient spas.  An artist group got together on the bridge, taking over two shops some years ago, Artisti Uniti, of around ten artists.  It was shortlived but quickly followed by the Borgo degli Artisti, whose initial group had a dream to create a hamlet of artists, inspired by Greenwich village in New York!   The Borgo degli Artisti took the initative to fix up the derelict garden of Villa Fiori, making it a gorgeous place to have a painting event in mid July, attracting nearly 100 artists for the day to paint all along the river and now they also have sagras on that day and other days throughout the year and have a little gallery on the bridge that displays their members’ works year around.

Borgo degli Artisti festival in the gardens of Villa Fiori
Borgo degli Artisti festival in the gardens of Villa Fiori

Since the Borgo degli Artisti started, La Rondine Gallery, an artist run space, showing international artists throughout the summer months has opened in two beautiful shops on one of the small piazzas. To add to the general feeling of excitement, a photography gallery directed by Kevan Halson is opening a few doors up from La Rondine and will feature the works of international photographers.

Exhibtion opening at La Rondine Gallery
Exhibtion opening at La Rondine Gallery

After our informal ideas meetings with our philanthropist friend who donated a substantial offering to the cause, the enormous job of putting together the Bagni di lucca Art Festival, was placed in Jaqueline’s hands.  Jaqueline is our daughter-in-law married to our eldest son, Jacob.  Her mother has a smile that would light the sun, while her father is a politician in Cape Verde, and we’ve decided upon this knowledge that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.  She is extremely talented dealing with so many artists and cajoling so many people to donate their empty shops, encouraging everyone in the town to get out and work at cleaning them up.   The feeling of anticipation is palpable.  Already the festival, even in its first year, has legs that are running for success.  Of course she is greatly supported by Jake, and the two of them have become a wonderful team.

Jake and Jaqueline
Jake and Jaqueline

In generous collaboration, the Borgo degli Artisti are delighted to have the art Festival take place throughout the Villa Fiori gardens. Starting at the beginning of July, there will be a marble hand carving sculpture symposium with international sculptors; music performances; opera; acrobatics; dancing.  Plus, there are 7 or 8 empty shops that have been seconded and they will be artists’ studios/exhibition spaces/installations. These shops will rotate with artists over the entire summer, June through till September.  The scrumptious old casino will be transformed in the summer for a piano recital of Lizst by one of Australia’s foremost pianists, Ronald Farren-Price, also for an opera from London and an opera from Lucca as well as a performance by Italy’s Al Maranca. It’s a growing happening and already people on the other side of the world are booking to come over to be here, enticed by beauty and culture and delightful traditions.

Casino, Ponte a Serraglio
Casino, Ponte a Serraglio
Ronald Farren-Price
Ronald Farren-Price

The Bagni di Lucca Art Festival is the manifestation of many dreams in the little town to see it thrive once more. After all, its historical interest has always been through the amazing artists and personages who have visited this town in the summer.

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Sollai working in La Coopperativa
Sollai working in La Coopperativa

Sollai, our youngest son, arrived in Bagni di Lucca just before Christmas last year after a year in Montreal with his acrobat girlfriend, Danica.  He had spent the year working on log cabins, stone chimneys and gardens up around the lakes and creating his sculpture carving alabaster and marble, in his city studio.  Even though the experience was wonderful, bringing him in contact with an abundant wild life and contributing to the language of his art, trying to make money to live and still do his artwork frustrated him enormously. Then, to his enormous good fortune a lovely collector was encouraged to sponsor him in Italy to carve in one of the most renowned marble carving studios, La Cooperativa, in Pietrasanta for three months over the winter.  Lucky Sollai!  He was given accommodation, studio, stone, allowance and tools in exchange for artwork created there.  More importantly, he was in the mecca of marble carving and had access to the knowledge and advice of some of the most experienced artisans in Pietrasanta – or in the world.

Sollai and Mike discussing tools
Sollai and Mike discussing tools
Piazza of Pietrasanta
Piazza of Pietrasanta
Michaelangelo was here!
Michaelangelo was here!

Michael, at the same time, took the opportunity to be with Sollai and rented a studio space in Studio Shakti in Pietrasanta for a couple of days a week.  They’d meet up for lunch in the Croce Verde where they would devour a huge three course lunch with wine, water and coffee for ten euros each.  After work they’d find a little bar to hang out and relax in, warming up after a long day in the cold.  Mike got some great work done.  I think he was a bit rapturous to be carving in marble again after so many years since the car accident when he was unable to do any heavy work.  He actually forgot in his enthusiasm, the weights of stone.  An average size piece, 90 x 90 cm, weighed about 180 kilos, fully realized when it came time to move it.

Shakti Studio
Shakti Studio
Michael in his studio
Michael in his studio

On one of the days returning to the studios to work after a weekend in Bagni di Lucca, Mike took Sollai up over the mountain pass from Castlenuovo to Pietrasanta.  On the way they detoured up another mountain to buy carving tools from the ancient Milani factory in Pomezzana.  This factory has been in the family for either 900 years or 9 generations – hmmm – our Italian is not that good! Nevertheless it is believed this same factory was making tools when Michaelangelo was in Pietrasanta.  We visited this factory 30 years ago when we first went to Carrarra.  In those days the factory was above the village and it is still there but now it has expanded and its extension is down on the road below the village.  Its a wonderful experience seeing how these tools that have never changed continue to be made, though in slightly better conditions.

Milani Tools from Pomezzana
Milani Tools from Pomezzana

In the meantime, Sollai created a beautiful carving for his collector.  Its size came to about a 100 x 100 x 40 cm in a a beautiful soft dusty pink Portuguese Rose marble.  Sollai’s influences for his art are very organic and natural forms often found on one of his roving walks.  This piece is also organic but is also reminiscent of the Ligurian figure heads and they must have lain dormant in his head because he has seen them on his journeys back and forth to Italy since he was a teenager.

My most loved expression is in the carving of stone. For me it is my prayer. Hours and hours listening to the rhythm of chisel and hammer bring me to a place of no return. The creation of form, the seeking of light within marble, its voice is the spirit of the earth and its poetry is infinite.‘  Sollai

Sollai on top of his marble cases ready to go to Australia for delivery
Sollai on top of his marble cases ready to go to Australia for delivery

 

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