It was lovely to be in a great city off-season; to be able to go into a cafe or restaurant and be seated immediately, to not have to queue for tickets, to have the leisure to be able to take time to wander about. I was really fortunate in that the weather was fantastic. The flight landed in a thunderstorm and torrential rain but by the time I had transferred to the B&B, it was dry and the night cleared to cold and crisp, just the sort of weather I love.
The Bed and Breakfast was just behind the Vatican City and I can recommend it for price, location and cleanliness, even thought the decor is somewhat odd! The first evening I set out to wander about and noticed my first pomegranate, growing on a tree in a garden, bravely withstanding the chilly weather:
Over the weekend, I kept noticing pomegranates in various forms on the sculptures and buildings and even in the exhibition I was there to visit, something which got me thinking about my plans for the second sphere on the Alexander McQueen piece, the sphere entitled "Before the Fall"...
I had no agenda for the weekend, other than to see the exhibition, so spent a wonderful few days just wandering about on my own, enjoying the city. By the end of the first night, I had visited 6 different Baroque churches:
When I had been there in 1979, I was on a school trip, the purpose of which was solidly Classical and historic and my tastes have changed. The excess of Baroque seems more appealing and while I can still marvel at the achievement of the ancients, the impact of the Renaissance, the Baroque and Christianity have much more bearing on my own tastes and styles in my own work.
One of my current students is Bolognese and knows Rome well. She gave me some gratefully-received tips for places to go in the city for good food, one of which was the legendary Giolitti ice-cream shop, which I visited on the first night:
On her advice, I had "Affogato al caffè", vanilla ice-cream in hot espresso coffee with whipped cream on top. Delicious and if I say that it cost €10, you have an idea of how excessive it was! When I returned home for the night, this was parked outside the house:
Convincing me all the more that I want to replace my collapsing car with a Fiat 500.
Next day, I wanted to get to the exhibition for 10am when it opened, so set out really early to take in some sights on the way, including the Trevi Fountain which was quiet at 8am, giving me the chance to study it properly:
The area around the fountain is fascinating.
With something interesting at every turn.
It is hard to explain how impressive the exhibition is. As with most recent exhibitions, photography was forbidden - a trend of which I do approve, having been too-often blinded by flashes or jostled by people too busy taking photographs to look at the exhibition or to heed those around them - but there was a book available, albeit only in Italian which I bought and which contextualises much of the work on display. I was delighted to discover that the ticket was valid for the day, which meant that I could return to the exhibition a second time, going back at 7.30pm - it closed at 9pm - when I had the whole show to myself.
The cult of San Gennaro has built up around him "protecting" Naples from volcanic eruption. A vial of his blood is said to liquefy on his feast day - 15th January - every year and, incredibly, the exhibition showed a video of this happening in a truly remarkable display of theatre. Needless to say, I am thinking about creating a piece which displays some sort of miraculous theatre itself!
You can get a taste of the exhibition from this BBC news piece:
Not forgetting that I was in one of the global style capitals, I found an amazing leather shop, where I bought a pair of hand-made braces:
Federico Polidori is a lovely man and I recommend anyone visiting the city to check his fanstastic shop and products:
That evening, I re-visited some of the ancient sites I had visited as a boy, including the Colosseum:
But ended up trailing round yet more Baroque churches!
Sunday morning meant that I had to get ready to return to the airport, but I set out early to see what was happening and to have some breakfast.
Finishing up at "Tazza D'Oro" for a coffee.
While I can't say it was the "best in the world", it was certainly the best I've ever drunk. A lovely way to end my visit.
Back to work on Monday, where I finished up my charity piece for Cancer Research UK, the e.e. cummings-inspired "in time of daffodils" for Cursley and Bond in Folkestone:
More details about this project can be found on the link from the QR code, here.
I also returned to my Alexander McQueen piece. The first piece was about McQueen's love of falconry, entitled, "The Illusion of Freedom Buys The Power of Destruction" and the second is "Before The Fall" which is about his creativity. Based on the myth of The Fall, I had envisaged a snake wrapped around the ball with a jewelled apple in the mouth. Visiting Rome made me realise that it should be a pomegranate and not an apple, so I set to work to create one.
Instead of raising one, as I had attempted - and failed - with the original apple, I decided to make a digital pomegranate, mill it out and cast it. The original model was taken from the tree I had seen in Rome:
Which I then milled in wax ready for casting next week:
Also on my desk in the workshop is a commission for a pair of Verdura-inspired cuffs with a Maltese Cross motif:
The weekend was a creative whirl with a meeting of Bloggers at the Kiltr offices in Glasgow and another one of Gordon's amazing "Scot Street Style" events in the fantastic "Hillhead Book Club". As I've said before, Kiltr is essential for all creative people working in or interested in the work going on in Scotland. Join up now!
"The Gathering" was just brilliant. Fundamentally these are networking events for creatives with a focus on fashion and photography. This one hooked up with legendary photographer David Boni who was taking shots, "Minted Clothing" and the Glasgow Beard and Moustache Club for a fantastic night with excellent people.
Gordon is some sort of genius without even realising it!