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.


Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Italy Workshop
May 2010

I ventured to Cortona Italy three years ago to do some art workshops with Archangelo Productions.

Little did I know that in May 2010 I would be teaching one there myself.

So I asked myself, why would someone want to come to Cortona to do a workshop with me?
What would make my workshop enticing when there are so many all over Italy?

Well, it was difficult to answer but I decided to throw myself into a project that encompasses all the aspects of my classes and my Visual Anthologies™ that my students, time and again , seem to want to learn.

This workshop has links to that first workshop I took as a student... as you will soon find out...

and will be no real surprise to me or you, if you read my blogs regularly.

One fine day I stumbled on this book, the story of which you can find in this post.

That book took me on a long and very deep journey.

The journey landed me in 17th Century Venice, amongst other places and times.

Four seperate Visual Anthologies have noe come from it.

I found and discovered four amazing women who I had barely heard of.

They were women of amazing fortitude, foresight who had great strength and courage.

Leaders of their time, I focused on one of them for this workshop.

“Seeking Sara”: An Evidence Based Mixed Media Art Journey
Cortona Italy 2010

Throwing myself deep into research I discovered Sara Coppio Sullam.

Who was she?

Sara, it has been said, was a beautiful, intelligent, musically gifted Jewess, born into a highly educated and prominent family in Venice.

There are no images of her. But it is said that she was blonde – hence the reason these covers were chosen for this project.

Hers is a tale of high romance and drama.

It involves her relationship with a famous Monk, a well known literary writer and poet of the same time.

It involves her relationship with a famous Rabbi and also well known for his writings and plays.

It involves the issues of living life in the first Ghetto ever created.

A Monk and a Rabbi both seperately writing a play and a poem entitled “Ester”.

Both connected to Sara.

Her story becomes a fascinating and exhilarating journey into the life and times of a “woman of letters” mingling and mixing with the greatest Italian literary giants of her time in her Literary Salon.

Hers is a tale of jealousy, famous poets and poetry and of “men of letters” all mingling amongst the backdrop of Renaissance Italy where women in general were kept in seclusion and to engage in serious literary exchanges of intellectual views was discouraged as they were seen as less virtuous than the men of the time.

Today she is seen as a pioneer in the literary arena.

But enough said for now.

The journal above is one that I created or upcycled as one component for this workshop for whilst in Italy it will be where I will document my evidence of Sara and my hunt for her.

Created from two discarded (not by me) cover boards from a Victorian photo album, I hand-sewed the many signatures to make the book-block.

It had to be the correct size - not so easy, believe me, to fit the cover and back as the absolutely beautiful brass clasp was still attached. Yaah.

Then I had to find the correct kid leathers to match or at least come close in order to reattach a new spine where there was no spine.

Into the spine went a page from a book, bought at the Arezzo flea market 3 years ago. Did I know how relevant this book would become?

Ahh yes the flea markets - amazing, the whole town comes out with their wares.

Stacey has coordinated the workshop to coincide with the once a month famous Arezzo Antique markets - day two - off we go.

I am already excited wondering what amazing things I will find for who knows what project.

The book by Salomon Fiorentino, a famous Jewish Poet living around the same time period as Sara in Arezzo. Who would have known that picking up and buying only this book – having no understanding of what it was about – would link up to Sara.

Stay with me folks....

I know, yet again!
The serendipity of it all.
But I am loving it.

Then there was this find whilst just about to bind the spine.
Found on a Sydney Street, dumped on the side of the road.

A Haggadah used during our Passover Seder.

The inscription inside reads: “Le Yehudit, 1947”
The inscription inside translates to : To Judy, 1947

A torn page of this Haggadah spoke of the 4 types of answers to the question posed during the Passover Seder: Why is this night different from all other nights?

I chose to insert the torn text with the answer from the Chacham, the Wise one.


Because as we will discover over the course of the time leading up to my Italy workshop, Sara had to muster all her wits to answer a charge that she took to the Legal Courts in Italy.

Then I placed my signature within the spine directly on the paper for who knows who will find this book one day and wonder who did this, who does it belong to?

That is how I sign my books, hidden deep within the book somewhere.

All the evidence will be placed in this book and the other components I have made up for this workshop.

Naturally whoever comes won't be doing their book and evidence journal and pieces about Sara.

You will decide what yours is about - and learn all the techniques applied to build such a major piece. As you will see soon, there are many components to this workshop so you will have to keep following to find out what is involved.

Next post on this topic will cover what the Evidence Mixed media piece will look like, what techniques will be learned within the workshop etc.

To be continued….
And thanks for staying with me on this post!