Walking through a warehouse stuffed full of objects and furnishings this horn cried out to heard, so I stopped and waited while it struck up a dialogue in me. These things happen you know? Just pay attention to that tiniest sound of its identity, and how it meets your identity, and you have the basis for making something out of it.
Just a response is all one needs, whatever it is, a fragrance on the breeze that says, ‘hey, stop here a minute and take me in,’ a glancing play of light, a change in the scale of things that suddenly wakes you up to your own human measure. Any of these, and a 1000 more intimate details of our working minds when they are at play, and you have what you need to make something entirely yours.
I don’t know if Aixienne is used as the name of those women who live in Aix-en-Provence, but the old costumes, and those faces, brought to memory some 19th century paintings of women from Arles, L’ Arlesienne, if I remember correctly, maybe it was van Gogh, in any case when I passed by the 2 women in Aix and took in the hair styles, and garments, I had a flash of how it must have looked when everyone wore clothes like this, and how each town or region in the back country must have had their own specific identity.
How different from our contemporary esthetic where ‘branding’ is the force that unites all towns, cities, and even members of a generation. And how in every town today we find the same fashion names on the shopfronts along the streets.
Sometimes I long for the mom and pop stores of the past with all their individuality.
Maggie found this old, beautifully formed and crafted horse, and simply fell for the ‘presence’ it emanated. The life it had lived for some child, or maybe a number of children down the years. She bought it so it could continue living.
There’s an expression in filmmaking called room tone which is when the sound person asks for quiet so that the quiet of the room, the tone that exists in it, can be saved to used to fill any gaps in the sound.
This room gave off a tone to me the minute I entered it. The cloth , this simple ragg-y thing, set the whole room to its presence, and a mighty thing it was.
Right out my front door! The sheep often come by, bells jingling, dogs herding, and the shepherd, a strong, silent presence who merely needs to move his shoulders, or body, a certain way and all the sheep move where the silent message sends them. Sometimes it’s a whistle, or a precise grunt on his part, and the sheep come to a standstill.
Magical. Like the stuff of fables. But to see it still alive in our world today is to connect immediately to what the past must have been like, with flocks of sheep moving over the fields everywhere, and shepherds, their silent guardians, living on the land with them as a large integrated unit.
The year before, when I encountered him way out in the fields, I made a portrait of him, and when he passed by today I brought it out for him. He looked at it, and I believe he couldn’t quite believe it was him, so unused to a mirror is he.
Anita came to visit us with her dad, our old assistant and friend from the Tuscany Workshop days back in the 90’s. She’s a trilingual little kid with a lovely sense of herself and a graceful young ballerina’s movement. I was outside doing something when I turned around to find her dreaming in the doorway, watching her father and Maggie. A sweet little unposed moment where her luminous inner quality shone through.
There is nothing the Italians enjoy more than eating. And when they can gather at some long communal table and be eating outside on a summery evening, they love it! It’s a way to meet new people, or be with old friends, or simply take a chance on whatever life throws their way. It’s a custom that goes way back and small towns all over Tuscany, and I’m sure all over Italy, continue the tradition.
I always find something to shoot when I’m there, portraits of my table companions, the behavior of the young kids who are doing the serving, the musicians who stroll on through, the dancing later on, and sometimes fireworks.