Category Archives: Workshop

Donkey by Moonlight

The making of art is often a solitary process. Unless you accept an invitation to an artists’ symposium, which is an inspiring mash-up  of summer camp (silly fun), running a marathon (endurance) and attending a harrowing design critique at art school (humbling, but necessary for onward progress). Oh…and add excellent Italian food and wine for good measure!

Fratello Luna e Fratello L'Asino

Fratello Luna e Fratello L’Asino, diptych

Just returned from 8 days in the Lombardy region of Italy, attending  “L’Asino e la Lunacontemporary art symposium, curated by Marisa Cortese of S.I.V.I.E.R.A, and generously hosted by the Fondazione Emilia Bosis, and its president, Pier Giacomo Luccini.

18 international artists, and a team of support staff spent a week together in a shared atelier producing art, ‘contaminating’ each other with our ideas and process, and exploring the region in horse drawn carriages…..

I fully immersed myself in the artistic experience, filling up my sketchbook with impressions of the week. Here are a few examples….

The symposium theme is inspired by the “L’Asino e la Luna” song by Agostino Celti, whose lyrics  invoke a donkey looking up at the moon, reflecting on their relative position in the universe.


Agostino Celti performing in the painted music room of the Palazzo Barbo

It is almost impossible to describe the charm, and audacity of the location: Cascina Germaglio in Verdello, Bergamo. It is many things:  a residential psychiatric facility for patients diverted from the criminal justice system; a working horse stables and farm (with a Noah’s ark-like collection of animals); and a community space for the town of Verdello.

Most intriguing of all – it contains the Teatro Stalla – a  huge barn-like performance space with a sand-covered floor, theatre lighting & sound systems, and a grand piano. Professional actors and resident patients perform together with animals, in spectacles which are collectively conceived. It is not a circus, it is art, it is therapy, and it is astonishing. A sample video of the upcoming production, “Nel Signo de Caino” can be found here.

Much gratitude my talented fellow artists, sponsors, staff and residents of the Cascina Germaglio, and everyone else who had a hand in making this Bergamo symposium an unforgettable experience.



Above the Fold

Herault regional newspaper

Herault regional newspaper interview.

The arts scene in Roujan and region is well supported by the regional newspaper, Midi-Libre. Their local arts and events correspondent, Victor Morales,  came to the GalleriMSF to interview me, with expert translation assistance by Jessie Jones, the gallery curator. The interview was a lively three-way discussion in two languages. The attached article captures the essence of the exposition and the travel journal workshop.

The piece was published in the Saturday paper, with my name in the headline displayed in a startlingly large font. As they say in the trade, “it’s better to be above the fold”.

As the newspaper web site is a curated blog, and doesn’t publish every article online,  I include a pdf of the news item below for downloading for those who read French. Or want to try.


After Jessie departed, Victor and I continued our discussions – using hand gestures to overcome our linguistic barriers.  Turns out he has vivid memories of bookbinding as a youth, and expressed great interest in my sketch of the Alexander woodshed at Sakinah Lake, wanting to know if it was a typical example of regional architecture!

I enjoyed interviewing the interviewer.

Leather and Paper and Thread

Trio of young journal makers

Trio of young journal makers, Kate, Zoe and Emiline

A group of intrepid women and one man assembled at the GalleriMSF in Roujan to try their hand at making a travel journal.  The term for ‘workshop’ in French is ‘atelier animé‘.  It was indeed an animated day, with laughter, concentration, and not a single needle injury!

We worked with beautiful leather acquired en route to France.  Goat hides came from a dusty Moroccan leather shop in Barcelona,  while a buttery piece of calf leather was donated by a handbag studio in Rome. Canson watercolour paper, hand torn and bound into signatures, offered a versatile surface for those who draw, paint, collage or write.

It is one thing to hand-make a beautiful leather bound travel journal. It is quite another to fill it. To ease the fear of a blank page, I shared strategies for getting started, and offered examples of various painting and drawing styles,  including painting with wine…and espresso. Composition tips rounded out the afternoon seminar.

I always credit Mark Glavina of Phoenix Art Workshop in Steveston, BC for inspiring me to take up the art of plein air painting. If I wasn’t in the south of France, I would be travelling in Bali, Indonesia with Mark and his painting group right now.  Columbia in January 2014 is the next proposed destination. Anyone care to join me?

The gallery’s favourite local chef Debbi presented a beautiful lunch to workshop participants, served in the garden.  In the Languedoc region a glass of rosé is required with meals.  The
orange almond cake was sublime. Recipe available for those who send me an email.

Enjoy this gallery of pics from the workshop. Thank you to everyone who participated, and especially Jessie Jones, for her help and coordination.