Friday, 26 June 2015

Bagni San Filippo

A less literal interpretation of an inspiration...

It seems like only yesterday, but it was eight years ago now that we packed up the kids and some suitcases and went off to live la dolce vita for a year on a vineyard in the hills of Chianti.

Tuscany! At every turn a visual feast - driving the kids to school, a visit to a museum, going into Florence for Italian lessons or just waking up in the morning fed my creative spirit and made me want to capture those moments and interpret those visual experiences in my own voice but I lacked the artistic means. Years later I discovered beads, years later still a recollection of a late summer's outing to Bagni San Filippo.

Tuscany is dotted with natural hot springs bubbling out of the ground. Filled with minerals they have been in continual use for their curative properties since Roman times. As a tourist you're sign posted into the expensive resorts to wallow in square troughs but with a local's knowledge you keep your eyes peeled for the small wooden bridge that leads you into the woods and following a bronze path carpeted by fallen leaves you emerge onto a bucolic scene of rustling leaves, dappled light, and dragonflies darting above a series of natural pools cascading down the hillside. The minerals turn the water a milky white and on a sunny day the reflected sky turns the pools into a beautiful opaque aqua - the exact colour of Swarovski's Pacific Opal.

I'd long envisaged an asymmetrical neck piece of cascading curves and had collected what I thought were the perfect materials to represent the dappled light, dragonflies and milky blue water but every time I tried to compose the piece I was blocked. After yet another unsuccessful attempt to get started I looked at all my rejected sketches and sat back and just meditated on my memories of that day - the sights, sounds and mood. I realised that I was too hung up on getting a literal representation of the cascading curves of the pools. All the round elements were representative enough, I could layer the cabochons for a cascading effect, I needed some type of leaf in the composition and to truly represent the sense of peace and harmony the composition had to be symmetrical...and bam! the piece made itself and while it was nothing like what I'd originally imagined I am still pleased with the end result.

What I learnt making this piece? Firstly, to let go and not be so literal. Also, it reminded me to listen to my instincts because at the time I just went with what 'felt' right and only after it was done could I verbalise why it worked. Oh, and I learnt how to make leaves!


  1. Oh mi gosh! Two summers ago I went to Mammoth Hot Springs in Yellowstone Park. Same imagery, and I have the same Swarovski color set aside for when I have time. This is further instance of your beautiful "European Aesthetic", the combination of materials and components that although dissimilar, become a singing whole effortlessly in your hands. You're the real deal girlfriend.

    1. Great minds huh Marsha! I cannot to see your interpretation!

  2. Replies
    1. Thanks Wendy! Its hard to sit down and get started but once I do I find I quite enjoy the process.