Penelope's Labour in Venice.

This post is very late, we returned from a very wonderful trip to Venice last week but I have been hobbling about on a very sore foot since our return. Nothing broken but I am feeling very sorry for myself after walking into a piece of furniture on the last day of the holiday. If it had been the first day it would have ruined things entirely so I suppose I should be thankful for that.

What can I tell you about Venice that you don’t already know? We avoided the crowds and queues in St Mark’s Square, instead we explored the quieter parts, the secret alleyways, churches, gardens and squares.

click to enlarge.

Every turn a photo opportunity, so many tiny shops, bookbinders and stationers selling exquisite marbled papers and mask shops galore, Venetian glass glimpsed through palace windows and everywhere light and sunshine and water. We crossed The Grand Canal in a traghetto, a poor man’s gondola ride, for half a euro you can take this “ferry” across Venice’s equivalent of the M1. How we avoided the very many vessels traveling up and down is a mystery, I can only assume that we had right of way, it was a bit scary but fun too.

We saw amazing art in the churches, palaces and libraries. Venice was host to the Biennale but by far the most impressive art we saw was here, the day we crossed over to the Island of San Giorgio Maggiore. Penelope’s Labour is the name of a tapestry exhibition featuring works old and new. Each exhibit was delightful in its own way, I expected to be impressed with the antique tapestries but was completely bowled over by the contemporary pieces.

Craigie Horsfield - At 99 Posse concert. Via Gianturco, Naples. September 2008
2010, 375 x 855 cm, wool and cotton
Woven by Flanders Tapestries

The work by Craigie Horsfield was worthy of Carravagio, a scene from a pop concert has been woven into a stunning piece of contemporary art. If you look at the faces in the crowd you will see a Christ like figure, surrounded by faces who could have been disciples, some faces showing adoration, others menace. Some of the tapestries were displayed on the floor and provided you removed your shoes you could walk over them. I was puzzled at first, the works by Carlos Garaicoa appeared at first sight to be actual mosaics until closer inspection revealed the true nature of these extraordinary tapestries, with words and shadows woven into the structure. Do have a look at the links if you have time.

We returned home in time to celebrate the second birthday of our gorgeous grandson George.


A is for Apple.

It’s that time of year again, when apples hang ripe on the bough and children return to school. My garden is not big enough to accommodate a full size apple tree but I have an ornamental crab apple, which is laden with fruit at the moment, later this will provide the birds with some food when the weather turns colder.

My memories of starting school and apples are inextricably linked, maybe because my old-fashioned Victorian style classroom had a wall frieze showing all the letters of the alphabet accompanied with a simple illustration. Every day we would recite, “A is for Apple, B is for Ball, C is for Cat….” whilst the teacher pointed to the appropriate place on the wall. I was fortunate enough to be able to go home for my “dinner” at midday. My father would be home also, he worked in a nearby paper mill, mum would have spent the morning cooking and baking to prepare a two-course meal and home made apple pie was often on the menu.

My apple illustration is taken from “An Illustrated Address Book” published by Blackie and Son Ltd. The other illustrations are by Walter Crane and can be found here, a marvelous treasure trove on the web.

We no longer have anyone in our household who will be returning to school this term, instead we are planning something very exciting, so until then I hope you all enjoy what is left of the summer and help yourself to another slice of apple pie.