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Newsletter September 2020

Hello, and apologies for taking so long to produce this newsletter. It has been an unusual year for everyone and for me, it has turned out to be a very busy and productive one. You will see many improvements to the house and gardens, and additional options for the art holidays.

COVID virus
Well, I must mention it.... Up in the mountains of Italy we have adapted well and I have the house well organised for cleanliness, distancing and the provision of masks, gels etc and it is all working easily and effectively.

Of course, I have not been able to offer art holidays for the major part of the year and all bookiings have just been transferred to 2021. It has been strange not to have the regular sound of chatting, laughter and the noises of artistic production but I look forward to a busy year next year.

I've been kept busy with teaching English to local people and by having Italian B&B guests who are holidaying in the mountains.

Casa Celtica is finished

  • barn front 2013
  • barn facing road 2013
  • barn- working on the new roof
  • Casa Celtica front
  • Casa Celtica, facing the road
I have been restoring an old stable-barn for the last seven years and I have now finished it. In this building I have been able to incorporate art work in the fabric of the building. I've used natural materials as much as possible and a lot of recycling has resulted in unusual effects.  Here are pictures of the barn before and after.  I have been working on all aspects of the building, from putting on the ne roof, building up walls, pointing, plastering, tiling..   and 'adding things'.   My degree was in sculpture and this is my biggest project yet!

The front of the house is like a face, two eyes, with the railings as eyelashes, and the door is the mouth.

STONE TREES

  • stone tree 4 (the climber)
  • stone trees from terazzo
  • barn before stone trees
  • stone trees 1 and 2
  • stone tree inside, round stairwell
  • stone tree 2 (the olive tree)
  • Building stone tree 3
  • stone tree 1 (the fruit tree)
  • stone tree 3 ( abstract)

I've incorporated 'stone trees' into the large ventilating areas of the hay loft. I wasn't allowed windows because it overlooks a neighbours house but, I made the trunks of the trees from stone from one nearby river, and the leaves of the trees from the nearby river, then the fruit of the trees are made of coloured drinking glasses. The idea was that it would allow small shafts of coloured light through. It did indeed work well and I expanded upon this idea in the kitchen extension.

STONE TREES - inside

  • stone tree 2 - inside
  • stone tree 3 - inside (bathroom)
  • stone tree 2 - inside (stairs)
  • stone tree 1 - inside (bedroom)
  • stone treee 1 - inside (bedroom)

I've incorporated 'stone trees' into the large ventilating areas of the hay loft. I wasn't allowed windows because it overlooks a neighbours house but, I made the trunks of the trees from stone from one nearby river, and the leaves of the trees from the nearby river, then the fruit of the trees are made of coloured drinking glasses. The idea was that it would allow small shafts of coloured light through. It did indeed work well and I expanded upon this idea in the kitchen extension.

Inside the old stable

  • dragon door to the bathroom
  • ground floor - the old stable
  • bathroom
  • bathroom using mosiac tiles
  • ground floor of old stables
  • bedroom
  • window from stairs to utility room
  • platform bedroom
  • bedroom with stairs to little balcony
  • balcony bedroom

I've kept the inside as simple as possible retaining the history of the building.  The ground floor is a big simple room, where the old columns have been retained, the arched ceiling made of hand made bricks, and the old metal retaining bars. 

The spiral staircase with a tree trunk column and handles of washed river wood leads up to the first floor.  A big spacious bedroom has beautiful windows one of which leads to the little balcony.  The bed and door are made from old bedheads. 

 The bathroom has mosaics which were found, a recycled door with dragon in coloured glass (my winter 2020 project) and all sorts of changing lighting effects from the coloured windows.

Then the stairs lead up to a platform area where there is a bed and wardrobe.

Extension

  • terazzo is the roof of the extension
  • front of the extension
  • coloured windows in utility room
  • bathroom ground floor
  • kitchen
  • utility room with window to main room
  • coloured window in kitchen
  • coloured windows in bathroom

You will have noticed that there is no kitchen so an extension was needed.  It is basically a large kitchen, small utility room and another bathroom.   As it is partially underground and on the north side of the house I was concerned about light. 

So during the Winter of 2020 I took up making coloured glass windows which became quite addictive...  I developed the idea of the coloured drinking glasses and made arch shaped 'tunnels' through the walls to allow light to enter through coloured glass.  This time I mosaiced loads of pieces of broken mirror inside and out to maximise the light.   I have to say the result is quite amazing....   even at night the light of the moon comes through!


Outside, on the terazzo which is the roof of the extension I asked the blaksmith not to put a handrail on as I wanted to make it out of river washed branches.   Lovely.

OUTDOOR AREAS

  • coloured glass lamps
  • pond
  • phoenix in garden
  • gazebo in wood
  • gazebo in metal
  • terazzo Casa Celtica
  • Breakfast area for ground floor
  • gazebo in metal
I've been busy outdoors too.   I have made the old drinking trough for horses into a couple of nice pools with waterfeatures and waterlilies which is all very pretty.

In the garden you will find other pieces of glasswork... I did tell you I became quite addicted!

Then there are two new gazebos for working in.  I had the intention of making social distancing easy and it works well as I have been teaching English to locals all summer here.  

Then, there are various other little seating areas to sketch or chat or relax.

Magical Mystery Tours

  • Monte Cusna view
  • woods
  • woods in sunlight
  • toano
  • river
Well, this summer I have had the opportunity to further explore this little bit of paradise that I live in....   I can only tell you that it is more magical every time I take a little trip even a couple of kilometres away.

I even think I have had a 'summer holiday'!

What inspiration!

I'll just include some photos here.


Franceso's Tours

  • Francesco and carraige
  • three donkeys
  • two cows munching hay
  • happy pigs
  • making parmesan cheese
Francesco is a colourful local character who is often seen around town with his horses. 

Having many generations of his family from Villa Minozzo he has a wealth of local knowledge about the history, geography and cultures of the area to share with you. He offers 1/2 day or full day tours (donations to the local Croce Verde) such as:

Food and wine tour: Visiting a farm, then the caseificio where the famous Parmesan cheese is made, seeing how the salame is made, and an intriguing glimpse into the world of balsamic vinegar. Other seasonal information such as talking with mushroom and truffle hunters, gathering myrtle berries, walnuts or other fresh produce is included, and then, of course sampling the local wines and other drinks.

Visiting a local organic farm. idyllic and out of a fairytale this is an excellent opportunity to sketch happy animals.Visit to the local 'cantina' for some wine tasting.

Visit to Modena with it's beautiful cathedral, bell tower and balsamic vinegar producing outlet.

Take the chairlift to the top of Monte Cusna in the evening to watch the sunset and then the shooting stars - in August.

He can also take you on many stunningly beautiful walks of the area describing the landscape, the culture and the customs. You can discuss with him the type of walk and duration and he will come up with suggestions.

Ballerina in the garden

  • ballerina 1
  • ballerina 2
  • ballerina 3
  • ballerina 4
I haven't had any guests on art holidays this year but many Italians came up to the mountains for their summer break.

One day I came home and the mother of this beautiful ballerina had explained that they had found my garden inspiration for her ot make these beautiful poses.

I am so happy that my 'house of art' has found creative inspiration of another type.

Thank you Giulia

2021

That's a photo of me with my via ferrata gear....  

I'd just like to say thank you to those of you who booked holidays this year and have been very patient while we waited to see whether things would work out or not.

I look forward to my house being full of laughter and creativity in 2021.

If you wish, email me for a 'blether', or to ask about the holidays next year.  You know I respond to all emails.

Bye for now, and take care.