My daughter Tamsin and I have just come back from a business bootcamp in Frankfurt - which is the last thing I ever though I'd be doing! We are now part of the Climate-KIC start up business programme, organised by Provadis. It was amazing to meet 120 people from 9 EU countires all sharing amazing ideas and inventions to positively impact the environment and help to combat climate change. From green rooves to pesticide sensors to street vending machines that extract drinking water from humidity.... so many incredible ways to clean up our world and safeguard it for future generations..... I can only wish them all well. So much brilliant potential! And Provadis is giving us all the advice and support needed to make those dreams happen.
Our idea is not a product at all though - we feel that we need to help address the very basic lack of awareness that is still evident around us. Our dream is 'ecoarti' - inspiring eco-responsibility through artistic ventures; workshops and events to underline the message that seems to have been around for ages but doesn't seem to be working. Our polluted air and plastic filled seas bear witness to the failure of the 3 R's; 1. Refuse unnecessary packaging and single-use plastic 2. Reuse it for as long as possible. 3. was Recycle, but it's pretty obvious that globally we are not coping with the sheer amount of waste we are producing. As ecoarti we will create installations from rubbish and waste materials that would otherwise end up in landfills. Our third R would be aRt - make rubbish into something memorable and perhaps even useful. I don't suppose we'll ever make a fortune by doing this, but there are many ways to feel rich!
Our next project is "Bahar taz-Zibel" ("Sea of Rubbish"), working with 70 teens to create a mural 8ft x 52ft to make them more aware of the impact plastic and other debris has on sealife. If only a few of them go home afterwards and take the message with them it will be worth it.
We want to show that rubbish can actually be a resource when used with imagination and creativity. Instead of letting it depress us, let's reuse it to make Art.
Me, Adriano and Tamsin looking at the view from Erice mountain
I've been meaning to write and tell you about the great time we had at Salinara Art Farm, painting in and around the Marsala area of Sicily last April.
Time flies and I get distracted so easily.... but I just have to show you some photos and let you see just how good it was!
Salinara Art Farm is run by a charming couple, Adriano and Yumi. He met us all at Palermo airport and drove us back to the farm, which is just outside the town of Marsala. It is on the edge of the largest natural marine preservation area in Europe, which is quite something and includes the beautiful Egadi Islands of Favignana, Levanso and Marettimo.
Sicily is just a short hop for those of us living in Malta, but we also had someone who flew in from Germany. Salinara Art Farm hosts workshops, retreats and special interest holidays during the shoulder months, and then opens as a B&B during the summer. It’s just off the beaten track, so the peace is wonderful but it’s also close-ish to the town and other local attractions. No, I’m not really writing an advert for them – I’ve just had SUCH a good time there ! Here's a link for directions to Salinara Art Farm in case you're in the area.
There were plenty of spaces for us to work on our own in between drawing sessions and outings
I had planned beforehand to help everyone put figures into their paintings, and so every day we had a session with my daughter Tamsin posing for us. We practiced sketching people on the move and how to get figures the right size and in perspective. It was a lot of fun and everyone enjoyed it.
We visited Erice, Mozia island, Favignana island, Marsala and Salini. We painted windmills and saltpans, of course –they’re so iconic of the area – but also land, sea and townscapes.
A happy bunch!
We also drank an awful lot of wine, ate plenty of ice creams and shopped just a bit too. All our meals were out of this world – lovingly prepared by Adriano's brother Emiliano at Salinara itself. We didn’t want to eat anywhere else!
Cheers! let's do it again!
The best news of all is that we are organising another trip this autumn from September 28th to October 5th. I’m so excited about going back; I feel very at home there now. Wouldn't you like to join us? All levels of ability are catered for. If you are interested, please let me know and I will send you a brochure. Looking forward even more, The Salinara team and I are planning a trip to a Greek Island next May – keep in touch for more news on THAT Adventure!!
One more thing – I am not sure if GDPR affects me or not, as I only write occasional blogs, and am very small fry....
plus I wouldn’t even know how to sell or share your contact details!
If you would like to be taken off this mailing list please just let me know though and I’ll be happy to do that.
Last October I spent a blissful week painting In and around Marsala, on the beautiful West coast of Sicily. I was hosted by a lovely couple, Yumi and Adriano. They have tastefully converted an old Sicilian winery into the most unusual and comfortable guest house, the Salinara Art Farm.
In April I am returning - this time to tutor a week of painting in this wonderful place and I'd love you to join me. I will be taking my watercolours, but if you'd like to bring any other medium that's fine. We'll be visiting a whole range of exciting locations, from the medieval hilltop town of Erice to the mysterious island of Mozia..... from windmills and salt pans to quirky fishing boats in the port..... deserted forts, wild countryside and the charming town itself, Marsala has it all.
As my regular students know, painting sessions are fun and relaxed, and tailored to individual needs. You'll work hard and learn lots of course, but there will be plenty of time to relax too. On this holiday I'd rather like to encourage everyone to include people in their paintings, so we will have a model (my daughter Tamsin) on hand to sit still for us. At the Farm, I'll show you easy ways to paint and sketch figures so that they look 'real' without adding too much detail.
Except for the flights to Palermo, everything is included in a great package deal; all food, wine, transport to and from painting locations, and me of course :-)
See the brochure below for full details on booking.
On the 14th July 2017 the Malta Arts Festival hosted an amazing performance at Fort St.Elmo. Ultima Vez gave us 'In Spite of Wishing and Wanting', a world acclaimed piece by chroeographer Wim Vandekeybus. Powerful in its sheer energy and drama, the all-male troupe explored "fear, the desire for security and the dreadful magic of sleep". The music of David Byrne underpinned it all, and two short films added to the surreal atmosphere.
It's impossible to describe in words though - so here is a short YouTube clip to give you an idea...
I had asked to paint the performance because it sounded so unusual and dramatic, with some nudity and what seemed to be men flying in showers of feathers. I wasn't disappointed; the sheer physical energy and total focus took their bodies beyond human limits. I caught as much as I could - I was spellbound!
In May I organised two painting trips to Trapani in Sicily for my students. We really did a lot of work between us, and had a good time exploring some interesting sites ..... as well as feasting on fresh fish and local wines!
One intriguing place we visited was ‘La Grotta Mangiapani’ described as ‘a village where time stands still’.
This huge cave is in Scurati, part of the Mount Cofano Reserve in Custonati, about 30 minutes from Trapani by car.
The cave has been inhabited since Palaeolithic times and in the 1800’s was turned into a small village by the Mangiapani family. Four family units lived there for 150 years until after the Second World War, when most of the inhabitants emigrated.
The Di Rosario family continued to live there, using it as a large stable and store.
In 1982, destroyed by the animals and quite derelict,a group of young people from Custonaci decided to restore the place and hold an annual Live Crib in the cave. It took years to restore the abandoned buildings and surrounding areas. They sourced examples of traditional tools and wares, and it is now a kind of living museum, with animals in the pens and the rooms displaying various crafts such as the making of barrels, clothes, puppets, carts, and food.
The photos above were all (brilliantly) taken by Melanie Geraghty
It was all very well done and we had a great time exploring before we settled down to paint. It’s a challenge to draw such a massive cliff and keep the sense of scale and perspective – I’m not sure how well I managed but it was fun trying.
My visit with the second group was on a Sunday and we were overrun by about 50 motorbikers obviously on a Tour, and we were all entertained by a group of traditional singers in local costume..... they did kind of disrupt our painting, but they offered to share their wine with us, so we forgave them !!
I couldn't resist these two horses swishing off the flies from each others' faces
I couldn't help thinking that Malta has so many locations that could take this idea and restore interesting but currently derelict areas.
Close to where I live, the old village of Manikata "Razzett tal-Qasam" has been very well restored and preserved by the local farmers (see Koperattiva Rurali Manikata ) but there are many once-inhabited caves in the area that could be used in a similar way to the Sicilian one - even a Living Crib! Just an idea....