Throughout the months of July/August 2019, Villa Lena hosts clay workshops in the artist studios and ceramics studio; a fun experimental workshop for kids that focuses on the imaginative qualities of clay!Read more
At this point I am almost certain that I will not be able to give you what you want with my journal entry. The more words I assign to my experience, the less effectively I can communicate it. In fact, it is maddening; to spend so many hours reflecting, writing in search of some grand metaphor, to repeatedly think I’ve finished only then to erase the hundreds of words I have cobbled together and begin another new attempt. Each time I think I’ve finished, I’ll feel a small relief, eagerly reread the piece, realize I’ve failed, and then delete everything in a haste to begin once more and waste another thousand inadequate words.Read more
Julie Iromuanya travelled from Tucson, Arizona in the USA- where she is an assistant professor at the Creative Writing MFA course at the University of Arizona, to come to stay with us at Villa Lena as an artist in residence for the month of June.
She is the author of Mr. and Mrs. Doctor (Coffee House Press), a finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award, the PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize for Debut Fiction, the Etisalat Prize for Literature, and the National Book Critics Circle John Leonard Prize for Debut Fiction.Read more
Former residents Laura Copelin and David Fenster, from Marfa, Texas, spent their residency studying local mushrooms species. They explored the botanical gardens of Pisa and Florence and spoke to scientists there. This fuelled some interesting collaborative work, and helped them realising The Latticed Stinkhorn of Pisa documentary.Read more
In my first few days at Villa Lena I was surprised to find myself feeling waves of emotion come over me, which I put down to both the beauty of the place and the exceptional circumstances in which I was there.
My responses were romantic and tragic, silly and dark. I developed a multifarious practice over the course of the month that was both playful and meditative. It involved tree climbing, mucking around in the pool, drawing without looking, taking photographs, walking, running and dancing.Read more
illa Lena, Tuscany
Stimulated by a common passion for food and cooking, Butternutten’s Luki + Oli hosted a four-course cheese dinner at Villa Lena.
Every course featured ceramics made in Butternutten workshop by hotel guests, staff people and artists in residence at Villa Lena; the ceramics are inspired by human body parts.
The individual and unusual tableware invited the guests to interact as well as to enter in dialogue with each other. The “cheese dreams” dinner is a way of questioning what eating can be more than food intake and how our being can be shaped.Read more
Lauren Ellis Matthews – 2016 diary by an ex-resident – 6 of 6
Something I’ve finally learned is, when you can choose, be sure to LIKE ALL PARTS. Everything is ultimately seen – all layers – so choose very carefully, should you disrobe from warmth or they shine through from light. And also if you like each little thing it’s endless hidden presents for yourself. A joyous reveal, claque! claque!, chaque bitty petit pois fois.
We had this mad search hunting for this lonely wolf, visiting artist tells us, through truffle and terrain.
I love visiting artist. Nikki? Are all invitées so pale? I adore such ghosts.
Jump in my grave, why don’t you! says Laura when Soph confesses she tried on her shoes.
Hugo and Reza waltz up and Reza has truly the most lovely and poetic body I have ever seen.
In terms of nature and inheritance: my grandmother gave me my tempting catching contagious laugh which I call a cackle but others seem to like. My mother gave me my flailing dance moves, incoherent and levitated. People don’t seem to mind them either.
Should we do an angel wing, Cecilia asks before toothbrushing my hair blue on my last night.
Oh yes forever.
Here’s whom I’ll miss: everyone. Everything.
Is the cake dry. Laura
It looks dry. Me
Why’s the cake always gotta be dry? Laura
It’s breakfast cake. Me
Why’s breakfast cake gotta be dry? Her
Last night I dream of 2 nurses telling me the only way to cure my inky yeast infection is by invasive and painful excavation, a long strange tube traveling through my left shoulder, or was it right, no left I can see that curse – burst – nurse, snaking down to my itchy vagina to fix it. I feel dirty and ashamed and upset and confused. Shouldn’t it be easier than this? Did I do something wrong? Am I not just allowed to be with boys and wear wet swimsuits?
But then I’m in the kidnappish van with Paul who stops short to not kill a “big green snake”, to which Laura replies, oh I hate snakes I would banish them OLL from the earth if I could. I don’t want to kill them I just want to banish them.
Cycling and wife roads
Scars on our bellies and hearts
And the clouds the clouds oh what clouds
Good night, we said in italian. Good day, thanks a million, please do, tomorrow tomorrow tomorrow.
It’s not lost on me that it’s all well and good to tout the values of love & happenstance at a Tuscan villa enclave, you know with farm-to-table slow food and yoga and organic natural wine, but it’s a very different exercise in the Pisa Galileo airport waiting for an Easyjet flight to a sunken city.
Lauren Ellis Matthews – 2016 diary by an ex-resident – 4 of 6
Claire, clairvoyant, is the moon. Wild, translucent feminine. And Carlos the fool. It is not lost on me that when I see him today he has a walking stick just like the man on the card, that he goes everywhere, forgetting his tongue, talking, taking, moving. And his luminous moon, silvery tall like a crescent bent over him and all-knowing through all-feeling. They have a flesh-pet, their dog, and a spirit-pet – a baby soon.
It is not lost on me that as soon as I was at last ready to plonger, the rain had begun in earnest, smattering the terra cotta leopard. Personne à la piscine, except me, Pauline à la Plage. It is the card La Lune, the tarot come true again. All water and a lone female. Water below, a strange lonely pool-dwelling creature, here a floating inflatable horse & on the card a lobster – who mates for life, soft inside their carapace. Water above, from her eyes, exploding. Sipping, sopping, freedom.
It is not lost on me that as I do laps I find in my body the wish cast in West Hollywood: get me out of here, take me further. I think of the War of Art: you get out what you put in. I put in. Even exchange. And I got so much out.
Richard spent Christmas in the hospital when he was 14. He only could go home for 4 hours. Because of a blood disease, maybe meningitis. I had a rash everywhere. It can weaken you, he says, i’m still getting stronger. I can’t remember it. I remember having to be in this room on my own. My sister coming with her friend. A sickly child. And then my friend visited too. Put on a Michael Jackson cd – Earth Song I think – I had my own tv, though, that was quite good.
Laura had a bike accident, had her spleen out. It also makes you a bit stay-inside as well, never go out & play with horrible children, she explained.
It’s not lost on me that I lost my keys. Now I must engage with the world in a different way than planned. Locked from internal room. You’re enfermé dehors, dit Paul. He understands “lost things” – go back the exact path you walked, he tells me. Jupiter is the biggest closest planet, he tells me also. These are in his repertoire. We will make posters, he mimes. Ok: WANTED, Lauren’s keys.
I hear the wind in my room as I walk past, barred and banned. It’s furious.
I hear Mati and Soph murmuring. Together, I think, but don’t know, twin hearts, he goes into her room every morning still. I look for toilet paper. Jerome leads a meeting in the office and Paul sits at the dining room table dusting his fossils.
“Untitled” by Alan Reid, NY based artist, 2015 Villa Lena resident
Villa Lena limited edition prints
There’s an expectation that painting, or visual culture in general, occupy it’s fixed moment at the now of it’s creation. Static, non-sequential art like painting exists as a relic of it’s making, tethered to the calendar position of its inception. How it exists within its time is one way we determine its authenticity. But I worry over the drive for authentic art. As some measure of pushback against this demand, I’ve gotten interested in a notion that painting can time travel. Is it possible for painting to be outside of its epoch?
When I first visited Il Bisonte printshop, which is just off the Ponte Vecchio in Florence, I was very aware of a kind of sideshow happening on the premises. The studio is packed with lithograph stones and prints reflecting the printers’ illustrious engagement with modern European masters: Moore, Matisse, Picasso, are represented. It seemed to me “the moment” being staged was one that has elapsed, a moment of the 1930s, ‘40s, and ‘50s.
I guess I thought, as an artist who is both outside the Modernist tradition and non-European, it would be interesting to take Il Bisonte’s stage at face value: to work within the logic of the Romanticized multiple. The question I asked myself, “what aesthetic language would be available to an American arriving at the print shop in the first half of our century?” I created a print playing within this game. Putting myself back in time, I thought an American print would be situated somewhere between the mass-produced pochoir covers of Vogue and maybe a hard to place artist like Ben Shawn. For the print I made, I drew a zebra, reminiscent of A.E. Marty’s famous Vogue cover. The zebra is rearing up in front of a fire, the flames drawn from a Shawn image. Somehow to my mind these are emblematic of a moment just before the authority of Modernism began to collapse.
Lauren Ellis Matthews – 2016 diary by an ex-resident – 3 of 6
I am starting slowly to process the massive quantities of information from Louise, in French, on tantra:
You have to go places you don’t want to. This is the clé to open all the doors. You have to be entirely self-serving, it is only about you. We lose our root chakra which is what roots us, because of society, after age 2. And then after 2 years of being with someone we lose sexual desire for them.
All of my suspicions have been confirmed! The dancing as release and connection and authenticity and a clue. Bossy body body! That when you have no inhibitions about your body and its intention and connection, it changes the people around you.
I touch Sophia’s lovely flesh and want to touch deeper, skin to skin, but my saboteur retains me. Here is what it is:
You are just a body (not totemic)
WOW WHAT IS THIS COOL THING!
At the most perfect dinner in Florence, squash blossoms and rabbits and the real deal cozy italian corner, Sophia explains that what she most doesn’t want is to feel Confined and defined.
Because we all create rules and taboo and society, even at a villa. Freedom seldom comes.
Violet everywhere, says Martin at sunset, snow and mountains both. This place is so charged. Now I feel the nonsense. I’m turning mystical here. Your face looks different, he tells me. Florence has changed you. I think it was the tantra, I reply.