Hold on to Peace - Image courtesy Ira Mitchell-Kirk

Hold on to Peace - Image courtesy Ira Mitchell-Kirk

Wednesday, 22 May 2019

Reflections on closing Legato in Cassino for 2019

It's always sad to say goodbye to a successful edition of Legato, but after some much needed sleep it is good to reflect on it too. I think the strength of Legato is that it is so varied; different works trigger emotions for different people. Just when I wonder if a work is not speaking to anyone where I have placed it, someone will come in and shed tears because it has brought back a memory or triggered a forgotten emotion. 

Legato creates a special space, and this was never more evident than in this edition in the old bookshop at the Historiale. This proved to be a wonderful location and venue, despite the challenges it brought us. Having three separate spaces allowed us to create different reflective areas and the larger works made a good backdrop for interviews and performances.  

It is not a space to talk about purchasing or pricing works, it is a place to reflect, to learn, to remember. Each time I think that I can't do this any more, someone will say something that reminds me that this is important; it is not about keeping going, it is about doing what has become a labour of love.

I would like to acknowledge my very quiet but superb co-curator, Jack Erdhuizen; without his help at exhibition time I simply couldn't achieve what you see, and the strength of the New Zealand side, Regan Balzer, who brings wonderful works ranging from student work to masterpieces, both old and new. Legato is a living, changing being, and it is a privilege to meet the people who are moved by this New Zealand exhibition in Italy.

My thanks as always go to the New Zealand Embassy in Rome for their interest and moral support, and this year also to the NZ Defence Force, whose support made this an unforgettable event. (More about the opening night in a later post).

Click here to see the video of Legato works at the Historiale, Cassino, 2019. 


Saturday, 4 May 2019

Rainy day reminiscing...

Today as I sorted random boxes of older Legato brochures to put into the car (when it stops raining) I was thinking back over the various Legato exhibitions. One that will remain with me a long, long time is the only Legato to be hosted in New Zealand so far. It had been my intention to have one in New Zealand every two years and I was in contact with the Christchurch City Council about holding a South Island edition when the tragic earthquake struck. The Wallace Gallery, in Morrinsville remains the only NZ venue.

So much for my bigger plans - but in that time there have only been two years without a Legato exhibition somewhere - and sometimes there are two in one year when I am invited to show the works in smaller towns liberated by the New Zealand troops.  The exhibitions vary in location and scale, but they do keep going. I think that this year will be the 13th edition of Legato and I am really looking forward to having all the big works on display in the same venue. Together I think they will make a very powerful statement.

(Photograph from the Wallace Gallery website)

In 2011 many of the artists who had exhibited in Italy met again, and new artists joined us. For me it was a lovely chance to meet artists in person, and to share more of the story of how the battles for Cassino make Cassino the ideal place to focus on peace work. Josef (Jupp) Klein, the German veteran who established a foundation for remembrance and reconciliation at the same time as Douglas Lyne set up the cooperating Monte Cassino Foundation for Remembrance and Reconciliation (MCFRR) in London, said that there were soldiers of at least 32 different ethnicities fighting on the Gustav Line. Combine this with the intentions of St Benedict, founder of the Abbey that was the central point of the Gustav Line and whose work remains a testimony to peace to this day, and it seems only right that Cassino should at least become a centre for peace work and study.

But back in New Zealand in 2011 we were a long way from the atrocities of war. Please click on this link to the Wallace Gallery, Morrinsville, to see photos from the Legato exhibition held there eight years ago. 

Saturday, 27 April 2019

Robyn Hughes: powerful works from 2014

Some years ago I was privileged to meet Robyn Hughes, and to later visit her in her home to view her then "works in progress", huge works on canvas based on the research she was doing into the battles for Cassino.

The inaugural exhibition of these works in 2014, described by the gallery as "unmissable", was held in Whakatane, New Zealand. The works are on a very large scale, which no small screen can do justice to, but Robyn has kindly allowed me to publish the work here on the Legato blog. Please turn your sound on to hear the words of the soldiers as they went into Cassino.

Access to power points permitting, this work will be displayed on screen in Cassino, 16 - 20 May 2019.

Legato May 2019

Preparations are underway for Legato 2019.

It seems a long time since I posted here. A new hard drive in my computer and forgotten passwords, missing photographs that didn't arrive despite being sent three times, and a lot of travel to visit my veteran father in New Zealand. No one excuse big enough, but that was the reality of my life, so this blog, along with my children's book blog, was left to wither in cyberspace.

But we are back! It's the 75th anniversary of the battles for Cassino, and Legato (which has been visiting smaller towns like Colfelice and Roccasecca since the 70th anniversary - see the Facebook page for the Roccasecca event) will return to Cassino this year to a new venue a short walk from the railway station. More posts will follow. 

Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Legato at Cassino 2014

Please use links from this post to see photographs of the Legato exhibitions 2014.

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Legato - Quick Links for Information

"Freedom" 2010 photograph by Lorraine Beattie

Preparations for Legato 2014, part of the commemorations for the seventieth anniversary of the end of the battles for Cassino, are well underway. Over 100 artworks by 37 New Zealanders will be on display in Cassino, and 12 artists are planning to be here in person. The exhibition is also being supported by the Ngati Ranana culture group from London.

The opening event is at 1pm on Saturday 17 May in the Sala Pietro Malatesta, Biblioteca Comunale, when the exhibition will be opened by His Excellency Dr Trevor Matheson, New Zealand Ambassador to Rome.

A second opening event and blessing will be at the Historiale on Sunday 18th at 4.30pm when the exhibition by guest exhibitor Maree Wilks is formally opened (it will be able to be viewed prior to this).

Legato was established by New Zealand curator and organiser Kay de Lautour Scott in 2010 after discussions in London and in Italy with veteran Douglas Lyne (1921-2010), founder of the Monte Cassino Foundation for Remembrance and Reconciliation, about the role of the arts in international understanding and cultural exchanges in peace work.

Exhibitions to date:
2010 Cassino, Italy (NZ artists with German & Italian NZ artists)
2010 Roccasecca (FR) Italy (NZ artists)
2011 Wallace Gallery, Morrinsville, New Zealand (NZ artists)
2011 Cassino, Italy (NZ, Canadian & Italian artists)
2012 Cassino, Italy (NZ, Canadian, Hungarian, English & Italian artists)
2012 Roccasecca (FR), Italy (NZ, Canadian & Italian artists)
2013 Monte San Giovanni in Campano, Italy (selected NZ artwork)
2013 Cassino, Italy (NZ, Canadian, Italian, Russian, USA & English artists)

While essentially a New Zealand exhibition, approximately 60 artists of seven different nationalities have contributed to Legato to date.

To help newcomers to Legato find their way around the blog and videos, here are some useful links.

The history of Legato (blog post)

Why "Legato"?  (blog post)

A range of videos:
Mosaic artist Janice Corbishley discusses her work and involvement in the Legato Exhibition 
Painter Jon Stevenson explains his artwork and his trip to Cassino
Mixed media artist Frances Rookes  interview at Legato
Photographer Lorraine Beattie interview at Legato
Italo-Kiwi Margherita Giampietri discusses her work and the logistics and benefits of taking part in international exhibitions, and compares Italian and NZ post-war experiences  video

General background and artist comments (2010): Legato at Cassino (video)

The opening in 2010: Legato opening (video, short version)

Artists hold a short service of remembrance at the Commonwealth cemetery (video)

The first Legato exhibition, Cassino Italy 2010 (blog post)

Legato on Vimeo (click here for link to 15 videos)
Thanks to Nicola Blackmore of feijoafilms (Scotland and Melbourne) for travelling to Italy to produce these videos in 2010.

Legato on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Legato-Exhibition-Italy/109656259065551?fref=ts

Monday, 14 April 2014

"Return to Monte Cassino" Maree Wilks

The Associazione Linea Gustav - Centro studi e ricerche storico militari, in their museum space in the grounds of The Historiale, Cassino, will host the guest exhibitor at Legato this year, photographer Maree Wilks. Maree travelled to the 60th commemorations with New Zealand veterans, and this exhibition is the pictorial record of that journey back to Cassino.

The official opening of "Return to Monte Cassino" will be included in the main opening of Legato in the Biblioteca Comunale venue. 

In addition, on Sunday 18th May at 4.30pm, after the New Zealand service at the Commonwealth Cemetery, the Maori Culture group, Ngati Ranana, who are supporting Legato, will perform in the grounds of the Historiale at a second event to dedicate and open this exhibition.  

This event is the day after the official opening of Legato at the Sala Pietro Malatesta, Biblioteca Comunale, on Saturday 17th May at 1pm. 

Saturday 17 1pm, Biblioteca Comunale, Via Carmine, Cassino
Sunday 18 4.30pm, in the grounds of the Historiale (near the railway station).