Monday, October 12, 2009



This book represents part of a major work

on the life and times of Sara Coppio Sullam.

This cover, taken from an antique salesman’s Bible Catalogue

was reconstructed together with a spine from the same catalogue.

It was then attached to a matching kid leather handmade back cover.

The reasoning behind this specific cover was not only for the beauty

of the highly detailed gilting


more importantly because the design encompassed a “Magen David”, a Star of David

and a Cross intersecting each other.

This relates to the subject matter in that the lives of Sara, a Jewess

and Anseldo Ceba, a Christian, intersected.

It also alludes to that part of this story whereby Ceba wanted Sullam to convert to Catholicism.

For him, it was the main reason to keep the relationship going.

A great majority of the correspondence and indeed the major part of their relationship was devoted to this issue.

An antique gold Italian frame, slightly altered, houses a 17th century text

(gifted by Judi Riesch) which related to Sara’s plight after being accused of plagiarism.

The gold colour and the circle shape were specifically chosen to represent the forced dress of the Jews at the time for they had to wear a gold circle to identify that they were Jews.

The two red roses signify the platonic relationship that ensued between the

two and the Italian hand shaped nib with the pointed finger sought to

represent not only the fact that both were poets but also that at the end of

their relationship, Sullam had “the finger” pointed at her for plagiarism after

not bending to Ceba’s wishes to convert her.

The text reads:

Thy sting is not so sharp

Thy sting is not so sharp

As friend remembered not

Thy sting is not so sharp

As friend remembered not

As friend remembered not

The handwriting is just superb here and perfect for a reliquary
devoted to the subject of their relationship

The lone Magen David at the base of the Bible cover,

speaks to Sara as a Jew,
a lone figure fighting for her rights to stay as such

and fighting for herself, in her own defence against a backdrop of anti-

Semitic vitriol.

Fronts piece: Digitally Altered woodcut,

“The Burning of the Jews”

represents the Inquisition period and all that that encompasses.

Stitched on to black and red velvet some of the colours that represent the Inquisition

It was nailed into the inside cover as people were nailed and tied to the stake.

The reliquary of Anseldo Ceba

sits atop an antique book cover

which has two antique papers attached.

One is a document found in Arezzo years ago. Pertinent for both the date marked above the
reliquary and the hand-drawn cross marked above.

Found in the same salesman’s Bible,
this Psalm of King David,
chosen and placed here
for its pertinence to both parties.

There are so many parallels here to the entire story,

too long to mention here

but it is highly significant on many levels.

This antique book cover was used for a number of reasons here.

There is a certain romanticism to this real life story,

at least at the beginning

and I felt this cover portrayed that feeling.

However ,the colours were significant for red and yellow were the forced colours that Jews had to
wear to identify themselves depending on which country they were in.

The greens and reds were also chosen for as previously mentioned,

They were colours symbolic of the Inquisition.

Pausing here for now, part 2 soon.
Thanks for reading.

Friday, September 4, 2009

"Seeking Sara"
An Evidence Based Mixed Media Art Journey
Part 3


Ansaldo Ceba was born in 1565 in Genoa. He came from a noble family and attended the University of Padua where he specialized in Greek language and literature.

Ansaldo Ceba and Sara Copia Sullam were most intimately linked with his heroic poem on the sacred theme of Queen Esther.

Ceba’s poem, La Reina Ester, written in 1613. “La Reina Ester” was composed in less than two years. Ester was an extremely long poem (Canto XI has 186 stanzas; Canto IX, 170).

Being a well known literary figure, Ceba’s poem had aroused great expectations in Italy however the poem was not received at all well.

In 1618, Ansaldo Ceba received a letter that was to affect his life profoundly and bring him some joy because it was from someone who appreciated his poem Ester.

That Ansaldo Ceba was a Christian who had deemed a Jewish queen worthy of being made the heroine of an epic poem was what captured the attention of Sara.

Finished Reliquary for Ansadlo Ceba
Antique Italian photo frame
Feathers representing quills used for his written poetry
Antique beads and
Antique metal fringe from Masonary neck piece

Her letter in praise of the poem led to an exchange of letters and verse with Sara Copio Sullam. The exchange was his attempt to convert her to his Catholic faith.

There is no image available of Sara hence I substituted with this image of Queen Esther. It seems ironical that the poem that brought the lives of these two of different faiths together, uses Queen Esther’s heroism to save her people from annihilation. If the Jews at the time all became Converso's then they would have committed self annihilation.

Sara, who was extremely committed to her faith, did not relent to Ceba’s continual attempts to convert her.

Sara lived at a time when Jews were forced to live in the Venetian Ghetto. The Inquisitions still prevailed and it was with great risk to her life that Sara continued her correspondence and subsequent refusals to convert. However, the The Venetian Ghetto was famous for intellectual as well as artistic and musical attainments.

Finished Reliquary for Sara Copio Sullam

Antique Italian photo frame
Antique beads and trim
Vintage crewel leaves
Antique Piano Ivories representing her musical talents

The colours red and yellow used to symbolise the forced colours that Jews had to wear to identify themselves.
The use of the reliquary here, whilst somewhat foreign to Judaism seemed appropriate to the subject matter and the way people were remembered at the time.


Monday, June 29, 2009

"Seeking Sara"
An Evidence Based Mixed Media Art Journey
Part 2

Choosing this book for its pertinence to my story of Sara’s life

It’s called Character Sketches of Romance Fiction and the Drama.

Well there was plenty of drama involved here.

To make it an evidence journal/book I decided to add and adapt a shadow box or small printer’s tray. I had found one in the USA that Michael fell in love with and adapted for one of his classes.

But this one was even smaller.

I had elements that I had already created

And some that were yet to be created

Since the box was in a raw form, I painted and altered it to suit my needs.

I created a lot of blank mini books which will serve to record different bits of evidence that I may stumble across in my search for Sara.

The mini books are all hand made and bound to the same specifications as a larger book.

The main book houses both the evidence box

And it’s components

On the left under the cover I created a fronts-piece

Which tells part of the story within

Sandwiched between two pieces of acrylic, the elements used are some of the elements I had from my last Italy trip.

Within the box one finds many individual elements , mostly found, like these mini watchmakers tins that I intend to add finds in Italy.

Adding and combining elements that have been repaired and or altered to serve my purpose.

This piece was a tattered and broken mini Victorian photo album

I repaired the pages, stuck most of them together and added the aged initials of Sara

I added some embossed velvet and left part of it open so I can use it like a shrine when I find the right pieces to add to it in Italy.

Then I will complete it by adding some glass or mica.

The spine was re-done as there was none when I purchased the book.

Mini vials were altered and chained together so I can add items from the journey

I decided to take an old Mezuzah with me, maybe as proof of who this is about, maybe for protection

But maybe I will place it somewhere and leave it in Italy, I am not sure but it needed housing, so I had a very old leather key chain which I cut apart, resewed and measured to size my mezuzah in. The leather was already split so I decided that that would be the pocket in which rests my Mezuzah.

I had a small copy of Shakespeare’s “The Merchant Of Venice” so I wanted to bring that along.

But I hated the vinyl cover it had so I re-covered it in a leather more apt to my piece.

Small paper parcels were created to add notes if necessary

Now since this post has taken hours to upload because blogger has decided to fail on me, I will stop here and update again soon.