Hold on to Peace - Image courtesy Ira Mitchell-Kirk

Hold on to Peace - Image courtesy Ira Mitchell-Kirk

Saturday 5 November 2022

Legato 2019, Opening night

What a night this was! The terribly inconvenient downpour of rain didn't stop the opening from going ahead, but instead of being out in the courtyard of the Historiale, we held it in what turned out to be rather a cramped space for all the people who came to support the opening event. Because parking was outside the enclosure, some very damp officials and military personnel made their way to the exhibition venue. 
The exhibition was opened by the Chief of the New Zealand Army, Major General John Boswell, in the presence of other dignitaries and supported by the NZDF concert party. The senior members of the Cassino Commune were present, along with other dignitaries from the New Zealand Rome Embassy, and Avv. Roberto Molle, president of the Associazione Battaglia di Cassino and long-time supporter of Legato. The NZDF concert party performed first in the entrance hall and then in the centre "stage", and their contribution was most warmly received.
Many lingered long after the exhibition was "closed" for the evening, and supporters of the Maori Battalion thrilled those of us left there with another impromptu concert.
If that, thanks to Covid restrictions and changing priorities, happened to be my last "Legato", then I am happy to have been a part of such a successful evening. It was truly memorable, not just for the rain, but for all the very best reasons too.


Legato 2019 photographs

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 this link 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.