Thursday, October 1, 2015

Studio Visit in Umbria

While in Umbria I visited my friend, Virginia Ryan,  in her art studio.

Acrylic paintings by Virginia Ryan fill the studio space.
Exhibit SHIFT, 2013

She is an established multidisciplinary artist. She is also a mother and an author.

She has lived for many years in West Africa and that influence is evident in her art work. Please read on her website "White is a Color" by scrolling 1/5th of the way down.

detail, Les Femmes de Gagne A'la' Rue du Commerce/4
160cm x 180cm
acrylic on canvas
Eight years ago, I saw her multi-entry exhibit at the GCAM (galleria civica d'arte moderna palazzo collicola) in Spoleto. Photography, paintings, collage, sculpture, video and voice.

On this visit, I was particularly interested in her fabric-related work from her SHIFT installation.

fabric dresses as inspiration

She is such a wonderful person full of life and full of great ideas AND a great hostess! I find her inspirational to me as a person and as an artist.

Catalogue cover for SHIFT 

She will be giving us a tour of her studio and a presentation about her work on the Umbria Textile Trip I am organizing for August 2016.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Next Project

I am not yet ready to start sewing. I am still unpacking and getting settled after six months away.

Umbrian countryside

I am however going full speed ahead in firming up my textile trip plans for Umbria in August 2016.

The town of Trevi seen from the terrace of the house we will be staying in.

This trip will have a different feel than the Verona Trips I organize. The focus of the Umbria trip is to create an art journal where from ideas can be extracted and new works, either traditional or contemporary, produced upon return to a studio back home. To help facilitate daily entries, we will have a daily theme as we visit hilltop towns, do cultural and art activities and visit two Italian artists.

Vineyards and olive trees in the Umbria countryside.

In November, I will be having a meeting in Toronto where I will present the full itinerary, show some photographs and have a price ready.

Looking west at the view of the hills.

I can only take 6 people for this trip. So far I have four people VERY interested, four people who have come to Verona with me.

Think about it.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Heading Home

Leaving Italy in a few days and going back to Canada.

A few days before I left I saw this MAP of Canada from my terrace!...down to Vancouver Island! Troppo bello.

Monday, August 31, 2015

Quilting in Rossano, Calabria, Italy

I had a lovely few days in Rossano, Calabria, together with friends at the end of July.

The town of Rossano tucked into the mountain and was built
hidden from the sea as protection from invasions of the Saracens.
The Ionian Sea is just over this mountain.

The main reason to get together was patchwork but we did way more than sew!

Chatting with the priest at his Abbey in the mountains
where the main activities were held.

There was a quilt exhibit- La PiĆ¹ Bella (The Most Beautiful) showing works from the south of Italy and the north, traditional and contemporary.

Location of the exhibit in the historical centre of Rossano.

A priest came to talk to us about what "The Most Beautiful" means. Very philosophical.

Exhibit Hall
Two visitors admire my work! I went over to talk to them. He is an art student.
His mother does patchwork.
More traditional works were on one side of the room.

We had a morning of exchanges. People taught for half an hour. They taught things they wanted to share.

Bread making.

Expert applique-er  and author, Maria Rosaria Nola,
 uses "Manitoba" flour to make her bread!
Sewing "Gems".

This will be my next "portable" hand project. It is a step-up from hexagons.
 I think it could be fun working out the secondary designs made by the fabrics
when the six 'petals' are sewn together.

Knitting tricks and much more.

We ate well (as always).

We toured a few places like the liquorice factory, Amarelli, run by the original family line, 11th generation!! Founded in 1731....

liquorice roots

... the beach on the Ionian Sea,

....the historical town,

... and when we got back to the province of Basilicata we heard the news of their devastating floods.

Rossano suffered heavy rains that
caused mud slides.
Pictured above is the beach front
and the newer part of the city.
(These two photographs were sent to me
by some friends.
Not sure who to credit)

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Local Plants

I promised myself to try to dye some fabric using local plants while I was on holiday in the south of Italy.

I did some research on the internet about using eucalyptus leaves.

I did the right steps.

Collect the rain water.

Collect the leaves.

Some dried and some fresh, just to see what would happen.

Prepare the pot.

Cut up the fabric.

I had a perfect white, cotton dress
that I didn't wear anymore.
Boil 1hour and 15 minutes.

Sadly, it didn't go well...but the kitchen smelled nice.

Trouble shooting:
maybe needed more leaves,
maybe the plant wasn't the correct variety.

It was fun trying.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Inspired by the Surroundings

I have been holidaying in the south of Italy for the past 9 summers. Every year there are fires in the mountains. Man made. Illegally.

120 cm x 80cm
artist: Maria Teresa Sansotta
In this photograph the art work is hanging on a black-coloured wall

How long does it take to grow a tree?

How long does it take to burn it?

detail, Controluce
free motion, hand dyed cotton

Having this textile work exhibited in Italy brought this issue forward. Her work sold to a southern family who lives in the north of Italy.

There were 4 fires in July where I was staying. Driving down to Calabria later in July, it was evident there had been many fires in their province as well, either recent or in the past.

The plane arrives to put out the fire only about 3 to 4 hours after the report is called in. It scoops water from the Tyrrhenian Sea and flies back to the mountain fire, repeating that several times until it is out.

It is quite spectacular to see the skills of those pilots!

Ms Sansotta used these fires as inspiration for her work, Controluce. Anything can inspire. Be open.

Thursday, July 16, 2015


Shelled some beans with a friend.

I love the design on each one. All different. Each unique.