This is the inspiration for the new work. It comprises three things that I love: rust, water, and Venice. The metal wall was hammered into the canal to hold the water back while a new brick wall was built behind it. That’s the way things are constructed in Venice, where the water can threaten building.
To make this work, first I laid down strips of paper I had ‘rusted’ some months ago, and coated them with a layer of medium. I used painters tape to mask off a straight line, and painted in some pale green. I added some green gold at the bottom of the board, and then ‘cool’ brushed some more on the top section. I used a tool to scribe into the wax, and added detail with a rust coloured pigment stick.
In the studio today I have been exploring encaustic. I have some German wooden cradled panels which are a beautiful start. The works I am making seem to me to be full of Venice, or perhaps my eyes are still full of Venice and I can’t see anything else. Not explicitly, of course, but there is something there…………I wonder whether you can see it, too.
They may not be finished yet, I need to look at them for a while to decide.
Angela has only cried twice since she arrived in Venice: once over lunch, and once over breakfast, neither of which I cooked. I don’t think it was anything to do with disappointment over the quality of the meal. I think it was an excess of emotion, perhaps related to the beauty of Venice, and the effects of jetlag and Prosecco. Yes, at breakfast.
She has shot lots of photographs, but as yet her efforts at shopping have been, to be frank, a bit underwhelming. Mainly food, alcohol, and gifts for her children.
Nicki and I had an encounter with the Italian John Cleese, who runs the only cafe on Isola de San Giorgio Maggiore. We decided to call him Basilico. He could barely contain his rage at the stupidity of his clientele. Enquiries as to the nature of the Primo Piatti on the menu were greeted with incredulity. There was toast on the menu. Nicki asked what this was, meaning what came with the toast. ‘Square pieces of sliced grilled bread,’ he said.
We had gone to the island to ascend the campanile, which has a wonderful view of the whole of Venice. You can see how small it actually is. We recommend that you go after midday. The bell tolls the hour, and if you are not prepared, you may find your ears ring with the sound of the bells for days afterwards – best to have only one or two, not eleven or twelve.
This afternoon, we went to Ca’ Rezzonico, a beautiful museum of seventeenth century Venice. the walls are covered with damask and velvet in beautiful patterns and colors. Many of the ceilings were painted by Tiepolo. There was an extensive gallery of paintings by early Venetian artists, furniture, mirrors and curtains. Together these things gave a real sense of how life might have been for the rich and powerful in Venice.
Angela Noble from Bega arrived to stay with us, which makes five women in the house. She bought us a whole kilo of Aussie Uncle Toby’s Oats, some home made candied cumquat and Cointreau and some Ferrero Rocher chocolates. I think she must have an innate understanding that living in Venice and walking everywhere, the body needs constant refuelling to maintain stasis.
Together, the five of us have pledged to support the ailing Italian economy as best we can. We have been pretty tireless in our efforts so far, though some of us have worked harder than others.
Angela hasn’t even begun, but then she’s barely just arrived.
I found a small children’s press, Editions Du Dromedaire,
which has just published a two year calendar containing hand printed linocuts of camels.
I woke early today to find that the canal was clouded with fog. I grabbed my camera and went out onto the street. Nearly every second person I saw was a photographer.
I hope it’s foggy again soon!
The work at the studio went well, too. Here’s me with the blues/greens/greys print just off the press.
And here’s our inky gloves lined up on the bench.
And then, this evening coming home from the studio, we were caught in a rainstorm. The streets were darkly beautiful wet with rain, (as Van Morrison might have said.) I will go out tonight again when it is completely dark, and shoot some more.
Various minor disasters befell us yesterday:
1. Daphne washed her knickers, and in pegging them, Venetian style, to the washing line outside her window, saw two pairs flutter down like white doves to the children’s playground four floors below. Would her language skills be up to retrieving them while maintaining her dignity? Answer: Yes. Always. She is a woman of style.
2. We returned from the studio exhausted from a full day of printing to find the power had failed. No electric light, no hot water. Non Fontionna. ( The very first sentence we heard in Italian on our arrival in Venice! Was it a sign? ) Appeals to have it fixed seemed to go nowhere. It would be OK tomorrow. It is what you should expect in a seventeenth century building. We were being a bit precious. Look at the view of the canal! How to respond? We dined by candlelight and awaited the morning. Pollo con limone e aglio and ratatouille followed by panforte, accompanied by prosecco.
Late today, as promised, power was restored, and with it, communications.
3. Nicki and I got lost. Again.
4. Nicki has been bitten on the thigh several times, but not by a gondolier.
However, we had some success in the studio. We made two prints from the plates we had prepared. The plates are made from found materials sourced in Venice, including a bit of our building which had fallen off onto the balcony. Non Fontionna. So theres a little piece of the seventeenth century in our print.
The inked plates on the press bed.
Our finished print : The Textures of Venice. The colors are the reds and browns of the city. The next one will be in jade green, aqua and blue and we have begun to make the plates for it. Conditions in the studio make it very difficult to make work to the standard one would achieve at home, but we are pleased with what we have achieved so far.
A bit of a slow start today. We finally arrived at the studio at around noon.
However, Nicki made her first print today – her first print ever, that is! It is a dry point on recycled aluminum. Unfortunately, the paper was pretty awful.
Here she is, with her work, Textures of Venice.
Ben and Jenny are going home tomorrow, so everybody at the studio had a lunch, cooked by Gianfranco, in their honour. Since Jenny is vegetarian, it was spaghetti con pomodori, with olives.
There was a glass of red wine, and Gianfranco’s good coffee afterwards.
Here is Ben with the woodcut blocks for his large format prints.
He struggled to get them into a tube to transport them back to England. Because of the weight of the paper and the tube, he is desperately hoping he can get them accepted as on board luggage on the plane.
On the way back to our apartment afterwards, we stopped in at an art and hardware store to find materials for the collagraphs we will be making. I made risotto with rocket and mushrooms for dinner, and we bought some delicious small cakes. A glass of prosecco, and an early night for us all.