Every day since the first of July you wander over the passerella to the Villa Fiori gardens and you hear the musical tapping of metal on stone. The sculpture symposium, one of the many wonderful events of the Bagni di Lucca Art Festival, has seen the works of five sculptors evolving and ‘becoming’ over the month; Doug Robinson, Sarah Danays, Ryoichi Suzuki, Petra Boshart and Michael Cartwright. Visitors to the gardens have been delighted by the progress and information on how each artist develops their language, using only hand tools on various types of marble, statuario and normale from Carrara, red travertine from Iran, nut brown from Turkey.
Every day the local people have provided lunch for the artists in their homes. It has been an enormous discovery for the hosts and the artists alike to see how the other lives life. There have been lunches in tiny kitchens and under vines with magnificent vistas, every lunch generous and fundamentally Italian, with pasta and wine and home done olives, good vegetables from the fields and heavy rustic breads and cheeses.
The kindness of Hotel Pio in Bagni Caldi, donating rooms to three of the artists for the full month along with the Bridge Hotel in Ponte a Serraglio hosting Doug, has been a huge act and earns them the name of the ‘art hotels’ and maybe next year with funding they will be well recompensed.
Doug Robinson is a Canadian sculptor who has been coming to Pietrasanta for the past thirty years to carve marble. He has been a wonderful joy in the party, his enthusiasm for the whole culture of Bagni di Lucca with all its hilltop villages, his eyes turning into childlike buttons of wonder have made us laugh and enjoy being here even more. He has been working in the brown travertine and his work, organic, figurative, animistic and landscape, all, are a beautiful testament to his surroundings that he has eagerly absorbed.
Sarah Danays, a UK artist living and creating in L.A. and renovating a house in a little hilltop village here in Bagni, is a petite and gentle woman. She has carved the smallest piece of marble to carefully and delicately create a bust to wear the adornment of an antique necklet which will then be melded into her own artistic expression of a photographic installation. Her lovely kind presence, always caring about us all and deeply concerned for her sponsors that they are properly acknowledged, has been significant to the warmth and friendship of the group.
Ryoichi Suzuki is a Japanese artist who has lived since his student days in Utah, USA, where he now lectures as a teacher in sculpture at the university. He has been used, as a marble sculptor, to the machines of the trade so has encountered a learning curve with the hand chiseling as has nearly everyone in the group. His process has been very methodical and at the end of his stay here he has created an abstracted silken torso in the white Carrara marble. People in town have loved his open interest in them and enjoyed his jovial company in the bar.
Petra Boshart, an artist from the Netherlands, comes from a long respected family line of marble carvers. She has willingly shared lots of tips from her memories of her grandfather and father and has delighted in the hand carving process which has eliminated lots of the aches that sculptors acquire from constant use of machines when carving. Carving on the edge of the Lima River inspired her sculpture in the Iranian red travertine, an organic coil of rolling form reflecting the flow of water.
Michael Cartwright, has loved being in the field every day creating. Life has been incredibly busy, because living in the same place you are working in, means many distractions, including hosting his sculpting friends every evening after work. But Mike’s energy is huge and he attacked his cube of stone with velocity before it took its shape into an abstract quirky bird form with what he calls the nest. People walking in the gardens each day got to know it and delight in it which was lovely for him because it usually takes a while for people to know his work. He is working on his second piece now, a promise of a gentle fluid form that feels womanly.
The artists will be showing their work on May 26th, when hopefully the road in Ponte a Serraglio will be closed again and all the shops reopened with the next exhibitions.