PS: We have spaces on our 22 November three day Blue Mountain Trail, guided hikes South Africa.

Good Morning

Paolo Staccioli is a sculptor and ceramicist living in Scandicci, on the outskirts of Florence. I visited his studio last month, a treasured experience that I hope to share with visitors to Casa di Simonetta.

We spoke first on email via his daughter Barbara, and then in person via his daughter Paola. Little bits of Italian but Paola (herself a ceramicist for a next visit) enabled some exchange on the artist’s concepts. This memorable morning concluded around the kitchen table where Paolo’s wife Gabriella was preparing spiedini for lunch, Paolo wrapping my purchase, and Paola sorting the admin.

While Paola walked me down the alley to my car, we chatted about the joy of having grandparents in your children’s lives. Paola and her family live directly above her parents. She shared that her father had begun painting when he retired from being a policeman. As a child he had helped out at a sign writing company and perhaps this had planted the seed for painting. His parents were farmers. I left with a heart swollen from the warmth of a strong connection with an Italian artist family, who had been total strangers before that day.

Antonio Natali reviewd Paolo Staccioli’s 2019 “Guerrieri, Cavalli e Centauri” exhibition in Siena. He speaks of “current creations that don’t forget ancient culture”. He elaborates on this point with “It’s humanity reinforced by a solid historic conscience that isn’t afraid of new things, but rather of the invasive and overbearing violence of those new things that leave scorched earth beneath it.” Isn’t that exactly what differentiates Italy?

Wilma Cruise’s ANCHORED IN A BOAT is showing at our Elgin Open Gardens this weekend and next. Of this work (a work that silences you, can’t think of a word for it), Wilma says “These ostriches are neither human nor animal but somewhere in between. Their inability to fly is one thing that captures their similarity to us. Like so many human and other creatures on the planet, faced with challenging environmental conditions, they are reduced to a binary conundrum: fight or flight. Being flightless in a literal sense the birds have taken to a boat in search of safer havens.” I am sharing a pic for those not close  enough to visit.

The inspiration to our Wildekrans  Country House and Green Mountain Trail teams in these last three weeks, received from groups of energetic, interesting, interested and friendly hikers, together with artists dropping in to install their work, has been almost overwhelming. It never ceases to amaze us how when different age, culture and creed walkers, join to spend a few days together, both on and off the trail, they form strong connections while appreciating that there are different ways to do life.

A three generation family of twelve were treated to the Green Mountain Trail by Grandpa these last few days. Granny brought along her fruit cake for afternoon teas, and a packet of her crunchies for each family (and us) to take home. As in Staccioli’s figures, which each carry a “school satchel like we once used”, we continue to carry our peaceful and playful childhoods.

We hope to see some of you this weekend. The garden is glorious, the works of Sheena Ridley, Guy du Toit, Greta Davis, Alice Toich and Wilma Cruise are waiting for you. This together with Roma Green’s Collection.

With love,

PPS: The Blue MountainTrail runs above Kleinmond, hiking trails south coast, with accommodation at four star graded Wildekrans Country House.