Verona – città dell’amore (city of love)

Last month I was lucky enough to be in Verona, Italy for a few days city break. I used to live in Italy and have visited a lot of the county, self-confessed Italophile as I am! However, nothing could have prepared me for the picture postcard perfect beauty of Verona which I had never been to before.

 

view of Verona from above

view of Verona from above

The river runs through the centre of the city, the banks of which are lined with prettily coloured buildings while green trees provide shade to the hilly landscape above which stunning views can be found. Verona is the perfect sized city to explore in a few days on foot, whether you’re walking up its many hills to take in the panoramic vistas or if you’re walking along the river or in and out of cobbled streets and piazzas stopping off at a gelateria for ice cream.

riverside colourful buildings

riverside colourful buildings

We all know the city as ‘fair Verona’, the setting of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet where the play’s star-crossed lovers meet. Verona certainly makes the most out of the story and it was fun to be a tourist and visit ‘Juliet’s house’ – the house which belonged to the “Dal Cappello” or “Cappelletti” – Capulet family. The building, dates back to the 13th and was renovated in the last century.  Inside the palazzo there are works of art by various Veronese artists and some costumes from the 1936 film of Romeo and Juliet. Italians have a strange modern custom of attaching padlocks often inscribed with couples’ names on them, to various romantic monuments and this has certainly happened in full force by Juliet’s house!

padlocks by Juliet's house

padlocks by Juliet’s house

 

Juliet's balcony

Juliet’s balcony

On one of our days exploring the city, we discovered the beautiful Giardino Giusti described by Lonely Planet as follows:

Across the river from the historic centre, these sculpted gardens, considered a masterpiece of Renaissance landscaping, are well worth seeking out. Named after the noble family that has tended them since opening them to the public in 1591, they have lost none of their charm. The vegetation is an Italianate mix of the manicured and natural, graced by soaring cypresses, one of which the German poet Goethe immortalised in his travel writings. entrance to Giardino Giusti

Giardino Giusti

at the bottom of the Giardino Giusti

Although close to a busy road, once we got into the garden we were in a tranquil and peaceful setting. Happily there weren’t many visitors around and we enjoyed walking up the windy path instead of the main route to reach the top. On the way we found a lovely spot which was a pagoda with a stunning look out view. My boyfriend of 4 years Itay, chose this moment to get down on one knee and propose! Of course I said yes and it made our visit to the garden and our whole trip to Verona even more memorable and special!

Afterwards, in a heads in the clouds daze, walking on air happy feeling we went and had a celebratory lunch in a great traditional restaurant which was full of Italians so we knew it was a good one …

The main reason we had decided to visit Verona in the first place, was to go and see an opera in the open air arena. So as the grand finale to our stay, we had for months had tickets booked to see the opera Aida at the arena. We go to the opera in London quite often but seeing an opera at the arena in Verona is something else! We chose to reserve seats and to be near to the stage for an up close experience with the glitterati rather than queuing to sit in the Gods. The whole experience was so magical, to be watching opera in an ancient site in Italy – I felt that I couldn’t have more of a super Italian experience if I tried! We saw a modern interpretation production of Aida and the use of shadow puppets, fire displays and innovative props made for an amazing spectacle! It was a really fantastic end to a great to the perfect Italian city – Verona – città dell’amore (city of love).

me before the opera at the arena

me before the opera at the arena

 

All photographs in this post are by Itay Greenspon.

 

 

 


I am the Chelsea Arts Club Trust Research Fellowship – CHELSEA space Award recipient

I am delighted to announced that I am this year’s recipient of the Chelsea Arts Club Trust Research Fellowship – CHELSEA space Award. This means that I will be based at CHELSEA space gallery 3 days a week, (from September 2012 for a year) working on every aspect of running a gallery, whilst exploring my own curatorial research interests. The award aims to promote professional development opportunities and mentoring for a candidate with the ability and potential to make an exceptional contribution in the area of curatorial practice and gallery management. The Award is aimed at encouraging those who would benefit from study and practical experience in a ‘live’ gallery context to realise their full potential. You can read more about the Trust here .

making up mirror plate frames to hang work for the DOME: Ralph Tubbs and the Festival of Britain exhibition at CHELSEA space

I am so pleased and excited that I have received this award and with it, the opportunity to develop my research into and work with curating and hopefully further my career in this area. I am gaining direct hands on experience in gallery management, designing of exhibitions, brand identity, communication, networking and team work, creating publications and archiving and documentation. In my first week working at the gallery, I got stuck in straight away installing the first exhibition of this season which is called DOME: Ralph Tubbs and the Festival of Britain.

our key framing tools up close – drill, braddle, mirror plates and screws

Having never even picked up a drill before, I have already accumulated so many practical skills in my first week as I have been drilling, framing and hanging work for this exhibition. After overcoming my initial nerves, only due to lack of experience, I have discovered first hand that it’s true… practice makes perfect!

our gallery work table with everything we needed for framing and exhibition installation – the work (photographs), mounts, frames, spirit level, drill, braddle, mirror plates…

I have been learning by doing and observing and this week I have been involved first hand, in the steps involved in designing and planning a professional exhibition. I have been able to make decisions regarding the selection of work to include and how to display or hang it. I have also been made aware of the factors that the exhibition viewer or visitor does not take into account, that need to be considered, such as distances between objects for navigating the space or how the exhibition looks from outside the gallery’s transparent window as well as from inside.

empty walls, empty vitrines and a work table full of tools. You can just about see one of the buildings of Chelsea College of Art & Design, that the gallery is on the site of, in the background reflected in the vitrine.

the gallery looks like a frame shop – full of frames to be filled with work for the exhibition!

For this exhibition which displays mainly archival material including photographs and other works on paper, we used vitrines and frames to install the work.

I have also come to realise that there is far more maths involved in art than I had dared imagine (I gave up maths & science subjects in school, as soon as I could to focus on arts & humanities subjects) as I learned about calculating measurements for hanging works accurately with my new best friends the tape measure, pencil and spirit level.

In the example in the picture below, we were hanging frames on a ramp which is an important architectural feature of the gallery space. So we needed to decide by how much to increase the level for hanging, also considering the incline of the ramp that the viewer stands on.

frames hung with an incline on the wall of the gallery’s ramp space

Another curatorial concern, visually, was considering the aesthetic nature of the frames being used as some were white and some wooden. In the end, we decided to mix them up and on the largest expanse of gallery white wall, we also blended hanging at different levels as we wanted to give the impression (along with the vitrines and material inside them) of the architect Ralph Tubbs who the exhibition focusses on, at work in the studio setting.

the large gallery wall space with a mixture of white and wooden framed works of different sizes

Finally, I love this image of the architect’s drawings and blue prints, having been rolled up for years… they will be exhibited in a vitrine after the favourite has been chosen to sit on top, the other layers will be stacked underneath tantalisingly, don’t they look great? Maybe they remind me of scrolls and it must help that I have an interest in old works on paper and a love of old books. These drawings even came with their own authentic smell when we un rolled them!

drawings and blue prints from the architect Ralph Tubbs, which will be covered more by a vitrine lid for the exhibition

I am very much looking forward to the private view of this exhibition DOME: Ralph Tubbs and the Festival of Britain which is tomorrow evening Tuesday 11th September at CHELSEA space (16 John Islip Street London SW1P 4JU). The exhibition is also part of the Icon Design Trail and the London Design Festival.  The exhibition is open until 20th October and I will be there working in the gallery Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays if you’d like to come and visit, I’d love to see you!


Beyond the Bookshelves exhibition at the Old College Library, Chelsea College of Art & Design, London

On Wednesday 23rd May 2012 the private view for Beyond the Bookshelves exhibition took place at the Old College Library, Chelsea College of Art & Design, London. From 5.00 – 7.00pm staff, students and alumni from a number of the colleges of University of the Arts, London as well as artists, my course mates and colleagues from previous courses and jobs, friends and family came to see the exhibition and have something cold to drink on an extremely warm evening!

guests to the private view of Beyond the Bookshelves look round the exhibition at the Old College Library, Chelsea College of Art & Design, London

As the curator, I was pleased that everything had gone to plan when installing the exhibition including having successfully managed to adhere to the strict health and safety regulations without needing to alter my layout and display plans for the exhibition. I also felt that I had overcome the restrictions that exist when using a non-gallery space which has the daily function of the library’s silent reading room by displaying exhibits in interesting ways.

view of Rootstein Hopkins Parade Ground from the Old College Library, Chelsea College of Art & Design

The booklet which I wrote to accompany this exhibition which includes information on the work shown by each of the the three artists as well as texts explaining the choices I made as curator and explanations of how the exhibition came about and information on the history of the exhibition space, can be seen on the library website for Chelsea College of Art and Design under Other Guides and Publications here

You can view the floorplan map of the space as well as the list of works from the exhibition.

Just below is the edited film, included in the exhibition, which shows film and sound clips from the live performative soundwork Silent Zone, Site and Sound which I have previously written about on this blog here.

What follows in this post are a series of photographs from the installation of the exhibition and from the private view evening (which were kindly taken by Itay Greenspon).

artists Tansy Spinks and Phil Jones install Phil’s cabinet

a detailed view of the cabinet containing books by Phil Jones

work by Julie Caves as displayed in one of the cabinets

hanging paper piece by Julie Caves

objects from Silent Zone, Site and Sound live performative soundwork by Tansy Spinks

from left to right: Colonel Frank Davis – Chair of Friends of Millbank, me and George Blacklock – Dean of Chelsea College of Art and Design

from left to right: me, Professor Stephen Farthing – Rootstein Hopkins Research Chair of Drawing at Chelsea College of Art & Design, Caitlin Smyth – Chelsea Arts Club Trust Resarch Fellow and Colonel Frank Davis – Chairman of Friends of Millbank.
In the corner is artist Aaron Mcpeake who has just completed his PhD at Chelsea College of Art & Design. Aaron has displayed part of his final show in the Old College Library at the same time with my exhibition on show.

guests including Donald Smith – Director of Exhibitions, CHELSEA space and Robin Jenkins – artist and year leader on BA Interior & Spatial Design at Chelsea College of Art & Design

artists Jenny Gordon and Fiona Whitty who are alumni of MA Fine Art, Chelsea College of Art & Design. They now work together on Whitty Gordon Projects which involves them working on a socially engaged film project in downtown Kingston, Jamaica. I will be assisting them in their work. http://whittygordon.tumblr.com/aboutus


Photography, Film, Design & Soundart. PhD show Research in progress: Pushing Boundaries and Practices, London College of Communication

Working at Chelsea College of Art & Design allows me to access activities which take place across the six colleges that make up University of the Arts, London. I made my first visit to London College of Communication (LCC) to see an exhibition of LCC PhD research student work in photography, film design and soundart. The show is called Research in progress: Pushing Boundaries and Practices and the catalogue for the exhibition can be viewed online, here. One of the participants in the show is sound artist Tansy Spinks, who I worked with on a sound piece that I wrote about in this post.

Since the exhibition was spread around the college, seeing it was a great way for me to get to know the LCC site which is huge and made up of some interesting spaces like the Tower Block, the Well and the Atrium as shown below, which reminds me of the Guggenheim Museum building in New York.

the Atrium at London College of Communication

I was fascinated by the range of subjects that are being studied and researched into, in such depth and I was most interested in work that linked various media. Here are some of the pieces that I was most drawn to from the exhibition.

Magz Hall is a sound and radio artist conducting a practice based PhD in Radio Art. Her piece in the exhibition was shown in a small cupboard sized room, with a black curtain instead of a door to keep the light out. On a blank wall, images were projected with sound clips from radio transmissions. A leitmotif that returned throughout was the theme of The Radio of The Future. Magz considers radio art and explores the relationship between the artist and technology and the role of the artist as mediator between the broadcast institutions and the listening public. The artist also explores the idea of how radio has changed from a shared ‘live’ event to one consumed ‘on demand’ by a fragmented audience. An interactive touch to her piece, was the book left on the side, where visitors could leave feedback and write a radio message using the code she had left on the wall.

still shot from Magz Hall's film concerning radio art

still shot from Magz Hall's film concerning radio art

Magz Hall's book inviting viewers to write a radio message

Magz Hall's book inviting viewers to write a radio message

Magz Hall's table for radio message coding

Magz Hall's table for radio message coding

I was intrigued by Rob Mullender’s work and for the exhibition he had displayed what I would like to describe as ‘sound pictures’ which are both fascinating and beautiful to look at which definitely adds to their appeal. Rob is exploring the best way to record an object and has used a rubbing or frottage technique, allowing an object to write itself using itself, creating an exploratory imprint. The end result takes inspiration from drawing, mark making, photography and other media.

an example of Rob Mullender's exploratory imprints

an example of Rob Mullender's exploratory imprints

Finally, looking at work from Tansy Spinks that she included in the exhibition. Tansy is a skilled violin player and in the exhibition, she showed a film of her playing a violin that was given to her with the bridge piece missing. In this still shot from the film, she has replaced the bridge piece, with a mobile telephone and in the film it was replaces with a variety of other unexpected objects.

 

Tansy Spinks playing violin using a mobile phone as the missing bridge part

Tansy Spinks playing violin using a mobile phone as the missing bridge part

I also discovered the wonderful Special Collections connected to the library at London College of Communication, but that’s a story for another post soon…


a New York fashion find

A few months ago I visited New York for the first time. I knew that I was going to love it there, having been told so by friends I know who had already been. But also, since there is so much cultural influence I rate highly, that comes from there – art, architecture, design, fashion., food, film and so on which I admire. Some of my favourite discoveries were the thrift shops, better known as charity or vintage shops in the UK.

I was very lucky to come across this original 1970s  Jonathan Logan dress at the wonderful Cure Thrift Shop. The dress was just right on and I counted my lucky stars that no-one else had snapped it up.

1970s dress from Cure Thrift Shop, New York

The dress is brown, of course, being from the 1970s and it’s made from velvet & lace.  The Logan company was founded in 1944 by one David Schwartz. I found some interesting information about the Logan label here and was happy to be able to authenticate my New York fashion find.

I wore the dress recently in London, for the private view opening of the wonderful exhibition Lloyd Johnson: The Modern Outfitter at CHELSEA space gallery. The dress felt fitting for the occasion, as the exhibition addresses the career of the designer Johnson, a figure of great note on the London fashion scene including during the 1970s.

the Curious Curator at Lloyd Johnson: The Modern Outfitter, private view, CHELSEA space