Wednesday, 30 November 2011

The Battle of the Battle of Anghiari, Leonardo's Lost Masterpiece.

Sunday it should have started the ultimate research for the lost Leonardo's fresco The Battle of Anghiari (1505) in the Hall of Five Hundred (Palazzo Vecchio, Florence, Italy). Instead, it started yesterday, and with some new rules. From now, also the Opificio delle Pietre Dure is involved.

Hardly wanted both by the City Council of Florence and the sponsor National Geographic - and obviously allowed by the Italian Minister of Culture -, the entire operation was suspended by the Soprintendenza at the very last minute. There were in fact concerns about possible damages to the fresco by Vasari.
From 1563, The Battle of Marciano in Val di Chiana (known also as The Battle of Scannagallo) by Vasari covers the east wall, where the The Battle of Anghiari by Leonardo was. In order to perform further investigations, with some sort of endoscope, it is necessary to hole the more recent masterpiece.

Who and why believes there's a Leonardo hidden behind the wall? In the first place Maurizio Seracini (University of California, San Diego), an Italian engineer and expert in high-technology art analysis. He believes it because of the chronicles by Vasari himself and because of a clue he would have left (painting a green flag with the words Cerca trova - seek and ye shall find - on top of another mural in the hall).

There's indeed a precedent: when Vasari was ordered to restyle the Santa Maria Novella church, where the Trinità of Masaccio was, he didn't destroy it, he just covered it.
In the past years, Seracini has already found out that Vasari had built another wall in front of the wall where the fresco of Leonardo da Vinci should have been. He found a gap of a few centimeters between the two walls.

Who doesn't believe it? For instance, the historian Tomaso Montanari, professor at the prestigious University Federico II di Napoli. He declared that the "hunt" for The Battle of Anghiari by Leonardo "is just propaganda". He praised the responsible for the suspension, Cecilia Frosinini, director of the department of Opificio delle Pietre Dure which deals with mural paintings.
Frosinini, who yesterday quitted, claims no scientific report has been provided during the meetings preceding the start of the investigation and states: "It's an ethic question, since my mission is to protect the works of art, and here it is about an invasive intervention on the painting" (the one by Vasari).


On December 5, a group of scholars, intellectuals and representatives of the association "Italia Nostra" presented a complaint about the risks of the research for The Battle of Anghiari to the Public Prosecutor Quattrocchi.

On December 7, Carabinieri visited Palazzo Vecchio questioning the technicians at work on The Battle of Marciano in Val di Chiana (or of Scannagallo) by Vasari, which supposedly covers the lost fresco and through which a endoscopic microprobe was passed.

During the past days, the equipe found particulate on the hidden wall. It could be egg, which once was used to set the sinopias.

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Montrose House, Dublin.

Gosh! Ireland always amuses me with a number of tales! This is not about faeries though, it's about radio and broadcasting.

What I've learned recently is that there is a bound between the Montrose property in Donnybrook, Dublin, first headquarter of the state broadcaster RTÉ (radio and TV) and the wireless radio inventor, Guglielmo Marconi.

At the end of the XVIII century, the Jamesons, a threesome of scottish brothers, settled down in Dublin and funded the well-known distillery. Montrose House was built in 1836 for John Jameson, who named it after the Walter Scott's A legend of Montrose. That much he loved his fellow countryman's work. While John and William stayed in Dublin, Andrew decided to go west, and funded a distillery on his own. He married Margaret Millar in Dublin and then left.

Margaret and Andrew's daughter, Anne, grew up at Daphne Castle, close to Enniscorthy, county Wexford. When she reached her twenties, she went to Italy to study music and, in Bologna, fell in love with Giuseppe Marconi, a rich Italian landowner (aged almost the double of hers). After some melodrama, they eventually got married. After one year their first son was born, Alfonso. After nine years, in 1874, their second son was born, Guglielmo.

Although grown up in Bologna, Italy, Guglielmo came to Ireland very often with his elder brother and mother.
Especially mother Anne has been a fundamental character of his story. In Italy, the young Guglielmo Marconi couldn't find any institutional support for his experiments, so she encouraged and funded him herself. Then she brought him to London, where others were interested in his discoveries.

While, unfortunately, Daphne Castle has gone, Montrose House is still there as landmark, and symbol for the curious paths of world history.

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Online Fundrising. The Italian Kickstarter.

Dear daydreamers, I hope to inspire your greater ambitions.

This morning, I found out that Etsy has now its own page on Kickstarter.

If you don't know jet, Kickstarter wants be the "new way to fund and follow creativity". It's a collaborative fund-rising platform. The idea is not new - there're already many ways for funding online, more or less sustainable and effective. But numbers count especially in "crowd-funding" and, being well known, Kickstarter works pretty well.

Actually the news catches my attention because just a few days ago I read that the "Italian Kickstarter" was born. It is weirdly called - some guys from the city of Lucca made it out. Useful, I thought, since a community-based system has to be as close as possible to its users.
Then speaking your own language can be a real advantage when you're trying to rise money.

So, Italians creatives, no more excuses!

Saturday, 19 November 2011

Loopy Loop: the Ultimate Knitted Necklace

I find knitted necklaces very impressive and glamourous! The one above come from Ixela, an italian etsy shop. The owner, Ale, is an architect who lives in Turin, Italy and this is just one of her lovely creations.
She introduces the Knitted Scarf Necklace this way:

Funky, unique and colorful, “Loopy Loop” is the right accessory to add to your wardrobe... not quite jewelry but not quite a cowl... somewhere between a necklace and a long infinity scarf, as you wrap it around your neck to get it all close and cozy.
This "Loopy Loop" is made by five knitted circular cords with different colors and different lenght, all decorated with several felt balls and yarn wrappings... you can leave them long, or wrap them around your neck, for warmth in the chilly mornings and evenings... wear them all togheter or match just two or three of them to fit your suit and your mood!

Thursday, 17 November 2011

The rational side of Fashion (Philosophy and Fashion)

After my fairytale-style reflection on vogue, I felt guilty of not giving any space to some major propositions on fashion. The ones made by philosophers.

So, I listened to a variety of pop-sophia conferences just to discover it'd have been better to read directly Wikipedia, and that's sad enough. I found out not only Philosophers are ten million years late but neither have understood their zeitgeist. Possibly because they're old and their only ambition is to eventually retire. Don't even try to say "no". I know you. Now I feel sad and old, me too. Anyway, there are some interesting things all the wise people say. Let's do a list!

Etymology, at first, teaches that the Italian word "moda", directly from latin "modus"  - meaning "way, manner, practice, attitude, temperance, rule, time, rhythm, melody, tone, discretion, likes"  - was used for the first time in its contemporary meaning of "fashion" in the barely Italian La carrozza da nolo, ovvero del vestire alla moda by abbot Agostino Lampugnani in 1645.
All those ancient meanings are useful to draw a line of concepts and trace back what's fashion and how it works. Philosophers use etymology to give interpretations.

But the phenomenon comes before the word which defines it. Not today, maybe, but sure at that time.

So history helps out. Of course here we're skipping all the part about neanderthal fur and sadness. Clothes are useful. However, already in the XV century, the rich Italian people were suffering because they could just distinguish themselves from the poor people: they could afford the expensive fabrics and colors and tailors they needed to have elaborate clothes, while the poor people couldn't, and therefore used to wear shabby chic gray and natural palette dresses, badly cut and sewed worst. Like in Mad Max.
Working fabric was such a crappy job that the first strike in western history had indeed been held by the Ciompi in Florence (whose job recalls the tortures of Dante's Inferno). At that time and worldwide, fabric was the big deal, as google stock-option nowadays; wearing the most sophisticated output of such an industry was a sign of distinction. But that distinction between poor and rich was not enough.

It was the time of the Italian Renaissance, the victory of a new cultural model that enhances individuality. When Savonarola tried to stop the tendency, poor and rich people together burn him alive at Piazza Signoria, where still today there is, as a memorial, just a circle on the ground.
We still hate him now.

Well, given the situation, the "jet set" chose to distinguish themselves not just from the poor people - fashion meaning "You don't even look at me, I clearly belong to another class" -, but also each one from the other - fashion mening "Look at me, I'm totally different".

And that's why the concept of "fashion" is double-faced: on the one hand it uniforms, it has to make everyone feel confortable in his/her own social group; on the other it distinguishes, it has to make each one stand out. That's also why no one really understands fashion, people get burned and we allow farmers to decide what we wear.

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Cashmere Necklaces

I have one of these necklaces and I love it so much! My hint: the longer, the better. This is how the author, Aliquid, introduces her latest listing:

The soft and fine mohair rings micro-scarf is a special necklace that warms your neck and embellishes your look. Enjoy to wear the neclace in a lot of different ways. The necklace catch is handmade with a raku ceramic button. You can fasten it in any of the necklace rings, trying every time a different way.
The necklace is a textile jewel and can be washed with neutral soap. It is a perfect soft, fluffy and warming gift.

Thursday, 10 November 2011

Multistrand Necklace (mostly black)

In my shop on Etsy I collect some of these awesome multistrand necklaces made out of various patterns of beads randomly embellished by luxurious elements. The only thing I regret (with respect to an actual shop) is that I'd like to customize them, because they may wear very differently and...Whatever!

It's fun to play with all the components until they agree to work together and become a balanced jewel. Here "balanced" is a key word: at the very heart of kitsch costume jewelry there's the idea of creating something truly astonishing from ordinary materials (well, perhaps this is at the very heart of everything), but if you go too far beyond, you may quickly slide into ugliness. 

In my opinion, kitsch is basically detournmant, couldn't exist by itself. For instance, this is a multistrand scaled necklace, but the traditional sense of the scale is overturned: it does not bring any order, at least it enhances the differences.

What makes this jewelry special isn't just the fact it is handmade, but the fact it is a well hidden paradox. That's the reason why it can be so cheerful, and why I don't just make it, I wear it myself very often. 

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

From Holland with Love

Carla lives in Rotterdam, the Netherlands. She has her virtual shop of handmade accessories, paintings and paper art on Etsy. The red felt flower above is her new listing...fancy, isn't it?
I just came back from Holland, with a kilogram of tulip bulbs and definitely too many books of my favorite Dutch writer...
Weather blessed my trip and the autumn beauty made me feel lucky. Why do I always come back?!

Tuesday, 1 November 2011


As I'm in Ireland, my inner crafter couldn't help trying to carve a pumpkin on Halloween...

And this was the awkward result!

My friends and I had gone very early to the local market ...'Cause we had great plans for the day!

In fact, while the pumpkins were socializing

and having a good time together...

- especially mine. It was so joyful! -,

we struggled in the kitchen

cooking a lot

since there is only one rule in having fun with food

and that would be: don't waste the food.

Later, although made slightly heavier by the ravioli and the conserve, we also went to the park, so Pumpkins could meet some old, weird friends of theirs...You know, they were running out of time. 

At midnight, we were back home. The pumpkins had a great Halloween and we as well. 

After the others have gone, Pumpkin and I spent the rest of the night together near a cosy fireplace.