Ciao Pietrasanta

Ciao Pietrasanta

Ciao Pietrasanta

Quickly, I am putting all my things together this morning, I could not bare thinking about leaving last night…the train leaves Pietrasanta at 8am.

I just about manage to fill the last bits of space in my bag with freshly baked pizza for my family.

Ticket from the tobacco shop, I am nervous and don’t manage to ask for it in Italian.

The person in front is the priest who closed with a friendly smile the duomo on the day I arrived.

Closure…and yet it feels like leaving home.

There is something here that has slipped under my skin, others said the same….’this place grows on you’.

I think from what I can make out so far, it is the history of sculpture making that has lived here since roman times, a network of everything sculpture…from material to highly skilled artisanos to sculptors from all over the world travelling here, living here, working here. I can imagine being myself here and having the framework needed to realise ambitious work.

I am rushing to not feel to upset which works well until I sit down on the train and put my headphones on.

leaving PietrasantaPietrasanta station

In a cloud of music and overtired sadness I walk on the plane.

leaving TuscanyPietrasanta?

Bristol arrives under us in no time.

I will be back.

Of the how and when I am not sure yet.

Ciao Pietrasanta!

Where next?


Pietrasanta day 7

Pietrasanta day 7

Pietrasanta day 7

So, this is really my last day working here for now. By now I am certain I want to come back one way or another to work here, life here for some time.

Going to the workshop has become a routine, I am glad I was able to focus in on some work and that is all I do.

Today I am sanding smoothing, cutting fine lines into the sphere caps by hand, I don’t question what I am doing, I am doing and it feels right, I enjoy that my head stands still and my hands and the material ask things of me that I do. I am rooted and calm whilst running my hands over this piece of marble again and again. A repetitive process that has nothing of the boredom repetition can have.

I want to align the rims today, complete the forms so they run even under my touch. Sight can not detect faults anymore, at least not for now.

Today the weather is dull and I wont be able to see if the sun penetrates the edges, I will have to wait until my return in the UK and wait for a sunny moment.

I have not yet addressed my idea to work with the gravity of this piece and again I will give it thought when I am back home.

Here are the last moments of working in Pietrasanta, shortly after this Christian wrapped the carving up fro a safe journey in my rucksack.

finishing toucheshappy with it all

Colomba invited Simone and myself to her home for her to show us some of her work, we talked about some aspects of photography, size of images and what happens when the two dimensional moves towards relief…working with restrictions and how restrictions are beneficial for work and the creative process.

A week ago I packed my things to come here, today I look back over the last few days. I am grateful for the people I met here, the conversations that happened, for everybody’s generosity. When going blindly into the world, when stepping away from the usual comforts, the kindness of strangers is powerful and necessary to survive.

When back at home I’ll remind myself that we all are strangers in most places on this planet.

I experienced the gift of openness towards me and strangers have become friends in the few days we shared together and I hope it won’t be long before we see each other again.

 shipping containers for sculptures


Pietrasanta day 6

Pietrasanta day 6

Pietrasanta day 6

Today is a blur, I am not sleeping well, nothing to do with last nights cocktail!

Mosquitos seem to like me for their midnight feast, my legs are swollen for evidence.

It does not stop me in my track to push on with the carving, I am sure several espressos will pick me up.

I am removing everything that is not sphere, arriving close to where I want to be. Work is slow at this point as I am now working freely without measurements, using touch and feeling. I like working like this…new ideas bubble up, ideas that have no words yet.

carving after 48h

Pietrasanta day 5

Pietrasanta day 5

Pietrasanta day 5

Starting with a walk up the hill to the walls of the ‘fort’, from here the view is stunning, I am waiting for the sun to ‘lick’ the horizon in a secret and yet noticeable way when looking away for some minutes..I am fascinated by this..when do we notice change? How fast does it has to be? How much awareness do we have to develop to follow the daily movement of the planets and stars around us? How can it be incoperated in artwork this never-ending change that holds us and gives us the feeling of being safe?

sunrise 1 over Pietrasanta

Through the night I had ideas for my carving, I want it to be a simple sketch a first impression and trying out..a form that let’s light through, a form that I can take back home in my rucksack and the flight weight restrictions.

I came up with  the design of two caps of a sphere slightly moving away from each other.

plasticine model for carving

Knowing that the next few days will be full of stone dust and noise, looking forward to it.

me in funny goggles     Barsanti studio, backdropBarsanti studio

In the workshop, Christian locates a small piece of marble, perfect for my idea.

I know that there is a fast way to carve a sphere and Christian knows the method of it.

No time to find a form I am amazed how fast I arrive at the final form.

Most of the work is done in one day, have a look what I did today.

cube to ovalfinding the diameteroval to spheres 1

taking measurementsoval to spheres 2

The atmosphere in the workshop is focused and relaxed, all of us are here to make shapes in one form or another.

The mix of people and their reasons to be here are multitude…

Christian who has been working here and as well as working on his own commissions facilitating learning for many years.

One of his students is working on a huge carving that needs lifting and relocating with a forklift on a regular basis.carving waiting for forklift

Andrea, the artisano, carving a new carving almost every day, a small sketch on the side of his easel reminds him where to carve.

Andrea's work from a sketch pinned next to the reliefAndrea at workAndrea's work from a sketch pinned next to the reliefAnnette, Simone and Angelika behind Andrea's carving of today

Simone, german sculptor and installation artist who has her own workshop here across the yard helps one of the students to make a plaster cast of her model.

Annette and Johannes from Germany are young stone masons here for their second time through a German initiative to fund the furthering craft skills.

A visit to the nearby cafe is undertaken to refuel with espresso:-).

working in the workshop

In the evening I met with Colomba and Simone…talking about Colomba’s projects and book launch in Florence tomorrow. Both encourage me to visit Florence, it sounds like an amazing place and I feel it might have to wait till my next visit as I want to complete my carving more than anything for now.

after a days work with Simone and Colomba








Pietrasanta day 4

Pietrasanta day 4

10th September, Pietrasanta

I am staying in Pietrasanta, life here starts to feel a bit more familiar, the owners of the ‘Caffe al Teatro’ know which coffee I want, the woman in the bakery recognises me, and the smell of freshly baked bread at 4.30am woke me up before now.

un fornaiocaffe del teatropiazza del duomo

Sitting at the ‘Piazza del Duomo’ the wifi is good, writing, reflecting, sending pictures out on Instagram…starting to draw ideas for a carving.

first drawings for marble carving

It is warm, history of hundreds of years of the sculpting and carving stone surrounds me. I feel at home.

Back in my flat I am playing with pieces of marble, trying to photograph the shifting of light but experience difficulty with the tripod and my time-lapse is not successful.

marble pepples from Seravezza 1marble pepples from Seravezza 1

There are several things that come into my mind here and I would like to use this in some small way in the carving I am going to make.

-On Saturday when visiting the studio I noticed a circular cut through a stone, a linear shadow stretching along into it. I thought about how this linear shadow will change in due course on this sunny day.

circular cut into stone

-The weight and density of marble is all around this place, I would like to tip this small carving slightly off balance, with a leaver? a counter weight?…or by natural occurrence? The latter would be inspired by Giuseppe Penone 1968, ‘pietra, corda, albero, sole/ pietra, corda, albero, pioggia’

Giuseppe Penone 1968, text explaining pietra, corda, albero, sole: pietra, corda, albero, pioggiaGiuseppe Penone 1968, drawing for pietra, corda, albero, sole: pietra, corda, albero, pioggiaGiuseppe Penone 1968, pietra, corda, albero, sole: pietra, corda, albero, pioggia (resting)Giuseppe Penone 1968, text explaining pietra, corda, albero, sole: pietra, corda, albero, pioggia (raised)

I am venturing out to visit the library and the Museo dei Bozzetti

full of models for classical and abstract sculptures.

I feel drawn to the work of Kan Yasuda

This japanese sculptor lives and works in Pietrasanta.

The minimal form of ‘Shyosei’ captures my attention with the soft shadow on the plinth created through an undercut on the baseline of this two part sculpture.

Kan Yasuda ‘Shyosei’

This work in progress photographed in it’s overexposed way (photo taken in the Museo Dei Bozzetti)  represents well how I feel about the intense affinity of marble with light.

marble carving in progress






Pietrasanta day 3

Pietrasanta day 3

9th September, Seravezza

Today I took myself on a bike to Seravezza, a town not far from Pietrasanta towards the Apuan Alps. I am looking up at these mountains and think what efforts Michaelangelo must have undergone to shift marble, it is sheer unbelievable!! Being a keen boulder shifter myself knowing how much hard work it is with all the modern technology available, it takes my breath away to think what it must have been like to move massive blocks of marble in the 16th century.

Sculpture in the centre of SeravezzaApuan alps, Seravezzadisused stoneyard between Pietrasanta and Seravezzastone yard between Pietrasanta and Seravezza

Pietrasanta day 2

Pietrasanta day 2

8th September, Pietrasanta

Cooperativa workshop, Pietrasanta

On Saturday I made sense of my visit when I met Christian Lange sculptor and artisan on the same site as the Stagetti Marble Studio.

Christian and I made contact before my arrival and figured that we grew up some villages away from each other in the mountains of the Rhön/ Germany. He worked for over 20 years for world renowned sculptors here in Pietrasanta and as well as working on commissions he teaches stone carving here in Pietrasanta, check it out!!

Angels in Christian Lange's workshop

The workshops on this site keep the ancient tradition and skill of stonemasonry alive, the carvings are of figurative nature often religious but time is not standing still as CNC cutting robots producing fascinating work of the here and now, reflecting on the robotic process.

The Cooperativa has many workshops, a foundary and galerias, visited by the rich clients and on the other spectrum intrigued arty ones like myself.

Christian invited me to work in his workshop whilst I am here…

now…my visit makes even more sense.

I helped myself to a little piece of marble out of the skip and skipped back to the flat to start working.

Marble found in skip

I was given advise that if I wonder through town on a Saturday evening I can be sure to bump into a PV (with generous spread to safe myself from cooking supper).

I ventured through the streets to find not one but several PV’ that touched me was by Sian Smith

Everything is lively till midnight, galleries are open, concerts fill the air with sounds, I ended up going to a poetry reading only understanding…gli uomini/ la donna/ feminista…taking in the atmosphere, body language and enjoyment of the crowd understanding every word.

I spent the evening with..

Columba a Italian photographer (details to follow)

Simone Eissreich

Neil Ferber

Midnight arrived when I went home filled with art, history and the friendliness of strangers.

Underneath all this I am of course thinking about my work and what to make whilst in Christians workshop for most of next week. Back in the UK I thought of continuing my letter carving installation project whilst here. Currently my drawings are steering towards form, light and gravity.

Pietrasanta day 1

Pietrasanta day 1

Bristol Airport

On my way..6am departure lounge Bristol airport..sleepy faces, disorientated, vulnerable softness, meets hardcore consumerism, brightly lit shops, glitzy black floors, long queues in Superdrug and Starbucks, we are told what to do in the most sneaky and blunt way that seems harsh at any time but especially at this time of day…bright sunlight as I am walking to the Gate…shadows often wake me up music in one ear, keeping myself to myself…every now and then a face fascinates me and I can’t help but stare…at those sleepy faces.



The first moments of arrival feel like stale bread..a different country..I barely speak a word of Italian and shy to ask if people speak English, the atmosphere of this little town breaths tourism, has churches at every corner and a villa on a hill near by…will explore tomorrow.

Why did I come here? I guess to experience some history of stone carving and this can certainly be seen round every corner..courtyards open up to marble carving workshops, every little street has several ‘galerias’ selling accessible work..a living is made.

I am in search for something quite different and I guess for this I need to take myself away from the mainstream.