For the first time in eight years a whole week away without my husband and children… I was able to join a friend on a work trip to Italy. She was invited as an artist-in-residence at Novanta90.com and I had the opportunity to go with her and also be inspired by the beautiful Tuscany and to work there.
Novanta is located in Borgo di Gello, a 1000-year-old village. It is a Pop Up Hotel, set up by a few entrepreneurs from the Netherlands who have revived the old abandoned village in a few years. The old buildings are refurbished and furnished to accommodate the guests. We were treated to wonderful meals made with the most delicious products from the neighbors on the mountain.
For a week we could enjoy walks, great cooking, and spend lots of time painting and drawing. With a few materials such as ink, ecoline and watercolor paint I worked on a whole series of drawings. Since I work very intuitively, you can really see the colors, shapes and tranquility of the environment in that series that I have called the ‘Novanta collection’.
For years I had the idea to make things with discarded wood, a hammer and a few nails, ‘assemblages’ as it is so beautifully called in the art world.
During a walk I found a very old cutting board, it was half underground, the board could be more than 100 years old. Then I found other materials in other places, such as the ruins of the school of the 1000-year-old village, with which I could get started . I asked for a hammer and nails and started carpentry ‘heads’. I had great fun with it!
A while ago I saw a beautiful documentary about the artist Eva Hesse, she was friends with the famous sculptor Sol le Witt. Eva often got stuck in her work and ideas and Sol le Witt always urged her to ‘just play’. He said it was so important for artists to play, because only then do you come to new discoveries, invent something new and start surprising yourself and others.
That’s exactly how it felt to me when I was there experimenting with all my collected wood and strings, building material, screws and caps and other waste.
At home I usually work in my studio and I am free to choose what I am going to make and how big I want to work, but there was no predetermined goal attached to that mountain in Tuscany, it was not ‘work’ and that provided so much fun and ultimately also whole new works of art that I am very satisfied with.
I left a number of ‘cups’ I made on the mountain, hidden in trees or near a building, with the idea that they are going to surprise people who will soon be on holiday there.
I took the face of the cutting board with me and it is now in my studio, it is my souvenir of a fantastic inspiring place that I enjoyed immensely and hope to return to again.