Hold on to Peace - Image courtesy Ira Mitchell-Kirk

Hold on to Peace - Image courtesy Ira Mitchell-Kirk

Wednesday, 7 July 2010

An Emotional Space

Visitors to Legato in the more intimate space in Roccasecca are finding it a very moving experience. Sunday evening was busy with 120 visitors to the gallery in four hours, the last couple leaving just after midnight. Yesterday a visitor was moved to tears as soon as she entered the space, and she continued her perusal of the works with tears and tissues. Other visitors were overheard debating the respective roles of men and women in war-mongering and peacemaking. All are requesting translations of the English text that is in some of the paintings, or, if they can read the English, are translating it into Italian for their companions.

The smaller number of works in each of the five viewing spaces allows visitors to pause and reflect more, often going around each space more than once, instead of being carried along by others as they sometimes were in the Cassino venue. Katherine Batchelor's "Specimens of War" holds the viewers for long periods of time as each dish is viewed and questions asked and answered.

The two more whimsical of the works by Susan Edge, along with the bright abstract poppies by Gail Boyle, are displayed in the entrance foyer outside the exhibition area. Here they seem to be taken more seriously, the meanings perhaps being more accessible when away from the more sombre works.

New Zealand medals and photographs linking New Zealand to a Roccasecca family were on display for the two days of the festival, but have been returned to their owner again. Works by Cath Sheard and Lisa Taylor-King are studied intently by men who ask if the soldiers in the photographs survived the war. Perhaps there is a greater sense of connection for the viewers when they can see real faces and families, a reminder of the very human tragedy that war is. As Jose Narosky has said, "In war, there are no unwounded soldiers".

Private viewings outside "gallery hours" are keeping the volunteers busy turning on lights and music, lighting candles and answering questions in a mixture of English and faltering Italian. The next week will bring visitors from a war museum in another region. They have booked to visit the exhibition with their visitors from Scotland.

My apologies for not posting the new photos and videos yet but the local internet connection was lost when a heavy storm hit the town. I will post them at the next opportunity.