I’ve had a good day! I walk up to the studio every day, about 3km from where the apartment is in Campo San Maurizio (down near San Marco) up to San Leonardo in Cannaregio because the vaporetto is expensive at EURO 7 per trip. Now I could get an I-Mob card from the Piazza Roma, near the studios, which would then give me greatly reduced vaporetto tickets, but the outlay for the I-Mob card is something like EURO 50, and the walk does me good. I have been walking up towards the Rialto bridge and then north and west along the Strad Nuova, but the last two days I’ve walked across the Accademia bridge, just one piazza over from where I’m staying, and up through the quieter area of Dorsoduro. I’ve done this partly out of interest, to see a different bit of Venice, and partly to try and find an arts supplies shop which I heard had lots of different types of paper. Yesterday I got up early and walked that way, taking many photos as I went, but failed to find the store even though it turned out that I stood right next to it while consulting my map… But today I nailed it and came away with 3 sheets of Fabriano Rosaspina 285gm etching paper and one thinner sheet of Tiepolo, for possible wood block printing – even though the owner speaks not one word of English. I felt rather proud of myself, although to be truthful it was my hands that did the talking rather than my fluent tongue.
The apartment is simple and basic: 4 bedrooms (three twin rooms and one single, which I’ve got) plus 3 showers, 2 toilets and a small kitchen. But what makes it nice is the company: a Hawaiian Chinese man called Michael, A German woman called Kathrin, and a German-American woman called Brigitte. Kathrin is lovely, speaks good English, and is very serious about her work using wood cuts. She’s been here for 3 weeks already and is putting in a lot of hours in the studio, although this week friends are visiting Venice so she’s gone in early and then met up with her friends in the afternoons. Brigitte arrived the same day as me but spent the first three days meeting up with her brother and his family, also visiting from Germany. The last couple of days we have all eaten at least one meal together, sharing the food costs and a bottle of wine, and it has been lovely to have other people to share my work with, and to talk about art.
More residents and students live in the lower two floors and I’ve spent time with some of them and hardly seen others – not only are people busy (some of them have spent NO time in the studio and have either been out partying or looking around the Biennale!), but the studios are quite large so you can just work in relative peace and quiet without having to spend a lot of time with people if you don’t want to. Today I did just that: I got in at 10:00am having bought my paper, and found myself the only one there until lunchtime. This evening I went out with Brigitte and we bought bread and cheese, olives, mortadela and a bottle of wine and sat in the courtyard with Michael and a Chilean artist called Ximena for an hour before we all went back to work. I’ve just walked home.
I’ve taken the view that I really need to knuckle down and work, work, work, otherwise what am I here for? I started by playing around with type, inking it up and printing it like a relief print – probably horrifying my letterpress-expert friends in the process – but I decided that was a bit of a distraction. Since then I’ve been working on a series of collograph plates of Venetian monsters, tying it in to my own interest in genetic chimerism in humans as well as a slowly-growing need for some autobiography in my work. I’m not even sure if the plates will print well, but I guess I’ll find out tomorrow.
I have yet to get out and about to the Biennale, either the main exhibitions or the ‘fringe’, however the maitresse of the print studio, Mathilde Dolcetti da Castro, an accomplished print maker and something like Venetian royalty from what I can gather (apart from being an absolutely lovely woman!), is hosting the Iraqi “pavilion” in her palazzo near the San Toma stop on the Grand Canal… it’s had really good reviews, I gather, so that’s definitely on my list of things to see. Also new here since we were last in town is the Museo della Dogana, an Ando-designed triumph of Venetian-byzantine-meets-Japanese-aesthetic architecture, by all accounts: a private museum of contemporary art that Ximena and Michael think is better than the whole of the rest of the Biennale rolled up. I’m trying to budget and plan for visiting things next week. More reports soon, after I’ve finished grappling with my plates. So much to do, so little time!