Swooping through the air, their forked tails and pointed wings in silhouette against brilliant blue skies, they arrive in spring and leave in autumn, busy all summer long, tending their babies and devouring the myriad of insects floating over the fields and waterways, chirping socially through the balmy twilight evenings on top of their nests under the eaves or on the boughs of leafy old trees. The swallows. Joyous and free they still observe the rituals of season as do we artists, out and about in this bountiful haven in the warm seasons and gone to other warmer climes as the winters grow cold. We have called our gallery in Ponte a Serraglio, La Rondine – The Swallow.
One week ago the mayor of Bagni di Lucca, Massimo Betti, opened the first exhibition of La Rondine Gallery, ‘Atrophy’, a series of photographs by Kevan Halson. Living in the hills above Bagni di Lucca, in a lovingly restored old villa, Kevan, talented in many fields, includes photography and printing in his repertoire of gifts. He is often to be seen, laden with his camera equipment and a bunch of keys loaned to him by the commune, as he enters old buildings owned by the commune who have not the money available to them to restore or keep the buildings intact. Bagni di Lucca with all its history and all its potential, is one of those special towns that needs a great patron to preserve it.
‘Atrophy’ is a series of small intimate photographs of the forgotten story of the Bagni di Lucca area, interior shots of tumbling villas and houses, old and decaying, snippets of another life, long gone, bits of rubbish left on old shelving, rubble up a staircase from a fallen roof, old tiles. The colour of each of these works is beautiful. Each photograph is almost a burnt black and white with one extreme colour standing out abstractly, a delicious turquoise, an apricot pink, patterns created by the lighting that create another level of resonance above the story of decay. It’s a strange insight into Bagni di Lucca, but it is a true one. Bagni di Lucca, so rich in history and patrons and beautiful buildings, has declined sadly and graciously; one by one the great old villas falling into themselves, relinquishing the life of the past, not much to remember them by except for a little wallpaper snippet or delicate engraved and broken glass, elegant staircases strewn with rubble from the toppling floors above. Kevan’s photographs record the vision of a broken past, yet are poignantly beautiful art works in their own right.
La Rondine is manned by the exhibiting artists, so the opening hours are operated individually according to the exhibitor. The casual nature of our agreements has allowed us to open the gallery doors.
Our next exhibition on 24th August is by Jacob Cartwright.