It arrived in Italian, which very nearly had me miss the importance: An Instagram message from Maestro Giulio Menossi, inviting me to the second Mosaic Symposium in Friuli-Venezia-Giulia Italy. Fortunately my sister lives in Italy and when I asked her to translate the message and learnt the content, I was very excited. A few emails later - in English - made me ‘run’ off course and also made me very proud to be invited.
A group of artists were to take up a residency in Clauiano in the North of Italy. Nine mosaic artists from around the world would be working next to each other for two weeks on individual artworks based on a theme “Alchemical Conversion: Spirit, Shape,and Material Mutation", using an unusual substrate: a whole wine barrel each.
The two-week symposium was organised by Clauiano Mosaics & More Association. Our sponsors were local wineries and wine-related businesses, as well as a Michelin star restaurant.
The nine artists put together by Giulio were representing seven countries and six continents: Aida Valencia and Ana Foncerrada from Mexico, Catia Usevicius Maia from Brazil, Dianne Sonnenberg representing Canada and the US, Marian Shapiro from Australia, Sibel Akkaba from Turkey,Lillian Sizemore, Yulia Hanansen from the US and me Karla Duterloo representing South Africa/ the Netherlands
Each sponsor could give their chosen artist another sub theme.
Mr Josko Sirk, owner of Michelin-star Restaurant La Subida was my sponsor. He expressed his wish to incorporate one of his skulls into the artwork as he had a special collection of skulls that meant a lot to him.
We could use the barrel in any way we wanted and had the help of some very skilled carpenters.
It was super interesting to see how nine artists, created nine original artworks which were all completely different, from basically the same raw materials.
Aida made a mosaic sculpture called “Origin”. Ana chose to work on the bottom part of the barrel, to create her ”We come from here”. Catia created a piece titled Celestial Landscape. Dianne made “Destino: All Is Connected” Lillian’s “Opus Albedo”, a conceptual piece. Marian Shapiro and her “To the Light” was a cultural piece.
Sibel Akkaba’s mosaic was titled “I Was Raw, Became Cooked, I was Burnt. Glory be to God” Yulia Hanansen made “Timeline of Wine” .
I created a larger piece and incorporated a deer skull, where I separated the antlers from the skull and added these into my “The Yellow Tree of Collio” mosaic.
I constructed the sculpture out of barrel staves with the deer skull mounted on top of the totem pole-like structure and mosaicked the side parts of the staves with lots of yellow smalti, as yellow was the color of the ara of Colio, home of my sculpture after the shows.
For 2 weeks, we worked long hours but somehow this did not feel like work at all. In the afternoon, we often took a short “wine” break to taste several types of wine available for us to try from our sponsors.
After “work” in the evenings, we were usually invited to dinners arranged by our sponsors on their wine estates and were transported back to our lovely hotel, Casa Stucky, in Udine.
We had lots of laughs together, we learned from each other and respected the way each of us came from a different culture and background and the way each of us had their own way of working. We had great conversations and each of us felt blessed and grateful for the experience. There were good vibes in the group and we had an absolute superb time.
The artwork was exhibited at the end of our 2 week journey at the Gala Opening Night in the beautiful setting of Clauiano’s old Villa Manin. The grand opening featured the artwork during unveiling ceremony which was broadcast on local TV; complete with musicians and a stunning dinner reception. Our sponsors and art lovers came together to celebrate an evening out of mosaic art, music, wine and food and talks to the artists.
After Villa Manin, the show traveled to the city of Grado for a month-long display at Casa Della Musica and shortly after that the artwork was on show in the Jazz and Wine of Peace festival in Cormons, Italy.
Everybody involved, Giulio Menossi, Maida Zerman, Matteo Pizzutti, and all the volunteers did an amazing job and made us feel at home and part of their family. We were spoilt on all levels. Even the weather was gorgeous and the setting made it a trip to never forget.
I can honestly say we made friends for life even if through distances it is only on social media and via messages. Some of us will meet each other again on global mosaic events or elsewhere. What we share is really special and I am blessed to be part to have been part of it.
We had the best of time and experience in those 2 weeks in the summer of 2017.