Hold on to Peace - Image courtesy Ira Mitchell-Kirk

Hold on to Peace - Image courtesy Ira Mitchell-Kirk

Friday, 31 December 2010

And So It Continues...

"Cassino Requiem" 2010 (diptych) - Gilmore Wall

Today the newspapers report that another Italian soldier has been killed in Afghanistan. New Zealand too has lost another national in Afghanistan, killed earlier this month. And so it continues.

It is New Year's Eve, and time to catch up on some blog posts long overdue. I would like to be writing about the art works, the artists, the exhibition. I prefer to write about peace, not war. But, while war continues, it seems that we must work both for peace, and an absence of war. Newspapers question why we are fighting in these places. Others suggest that career soldiers are simply working in a dangerous job, and no more heroes than anyone else killed on a work site.

We say "Don't be a hero" when we are really saying "Come home safely". Is it no more, no less than this? There are people who perform extraordinary acts under pressure, but there is surely no heroism in fighting a war with military presence. Peace comes from building bridges, not bombing them.

While reviewing Legato artist statements for this blog I was struck by the lines at the end of this email from Gilmore Wall of Auckland. Gill's challenging imagery (photo above) bridges the 65+ years from WWII until today.

The Second World War had a major impact on my family with many uncles, cousins and my father serving in all three armed forces in Europe, North Africa and the Pacific. The family lost one cousin in the Battle of Britain as a tail gunner in a bomber, another taken prisoner in the Pacific and my father was wounded in the battle of El Alamein, Egypt which ended his war.

Our uncle Lawrence Gilmore fought all three theatres with 2NZEF from North Africa including Cassino and made it through unscathed only to be sent to the Pacific where his brother (Robert) was. He is one of the last members of his generation of our family still living well into his eighties. He was away from home for five years. Like many of his contemporaries they speak little of their experiences during their time at war and so it remains difficult for following generations to fully understand what it was like. We can only speculate as to how horrific it must have been.

My father told the story of the day the war ended finally in the Pacific and he was on our grandparent’s farm, having just met our mother Isobel Jean (Lawrence’s sister), whence our grandfather collapsed and died in his arms from what must have been pure stress from waiting for his sons to return home. They never got to see their dad again.

My submitted artwork therefore depicts both my wife and my families’ connection with World War II and in particular Cassino. The imagery has been derived both from collections held at the Auckland War Memorial Museum and from personal mementoes telling the story of the coming together of many cultures as one nation protecting our freedom as a way of life. Unfortunately this is a repeated theme in our lifetimes.

We must ask ourselves, as we start the new year, how many more lifetimes will we let it continue? Wouldn't it be great if we had to turn to museums and historians for information about wars, instead of simply picking up a newspaper and turning on the television to watch our bloody history being made?

Mother Theresa said "Peace begins with a smile". Happy New Year, artists and peace workers. We can all be peace workers, join any of the many movements around the world. Bring whatever skills you have, but all you really need to bring is a smile.

Friday, 24 December 2010

Christmas with the troops all over the world.

While we think of the troops overseas away from families, fighting because they believe they must, so too are many peace workers away from home and in dangerous situations. Peace is more than a prayer at Christmas time, a fleeting thought amongst the festivities. John Lennon's "So This is Christmas" is sobering and challenging.

Working for Peace:
This group of young German, Italian and Polish students listen to the veterans, visit the battlefields and cemeteries and share prayers for peace (Cassino, October 2010).

The need to work for peace is greater than ever before.


As we eat our Christmas chocolate, do we spare a thought for where it came from? It might be a shock to learn that the home of 40% of the world supply of cocoa is currently on the brink of war, or, depending on your definition, is at war. Your Christmas treats, hard earned, may cost you much more soon. It will hit your pocket, but will it also hit your heart?

Wars continue, often unnoticed as we pursue our busy lives. When it hits us in our wallets, or in our supplies of things we consider to be our normal right, does it bring it home to us a little more?

This link to the BIPPI website gives a glimpse of how much work needs to be done to have any chance of peace and harmony, for people to be able to live in peace. Peace is not merely an absence of war, but as fervent peace worker Bruno Picozzi puts it, "Peace is what happens when all peoples are free to develop themselves in the way they want, without having to fight for their rights." (Bruno Picozzi)

Yesterday I was reading of a war I hadn't even noticed evolving. Other nationals are being urged to leave the Ivory Coast as civil unrest verges on civil war. Power, it seems, was linked to cocoa production.

Today I made the usual Christmas treats, New Zealand recipes to take to Italian homes. Cocoa featured in many of them. The cocoa powder spilt on my bench "runner" refused to brush off easily, remaining for now a stain the colour of dried blood. It's not that I am bent on focusing on the brutality of war, in fact I much prefer to focus on peace. But living as I do between the Gustav Line and the Hitler Line, visited by historians and tourists wanting to know more about the history, it is difficult to extract myself from the sorrow of the history at times.


My father tells of spending a wartime Christmas in Italy with his two brothers, where they celebrated by sharing a bottle of brandy. How lucky they were to be able to reach one another from their respective locations. My favourite story is his Christmas pudding story. This arrived too late for Christmas, so was being saved for a special occasion. That occasion arrived on the following Good Friday, when he survived being buried alive in an aerial attack on the Allied troops behind Mt Trocchio at Cassino.

So, this Christmas, let's not just look at the Christmas stories of WWII, but, as Katherine Jenkins does so beautifully, spare a thought for all those engaged in combat wherever they are, for what ever motive, this Christmas. This Youtube tribute to Katherine's work gives a glimpse of what continues today, from a more peaceful perspective. Art, music, writing... it all makes a difference. Whether or not troops should be where they are is for each of us to evaluate according to our own beliefs, but the fact remains that war continues and we must use every talent we possess to ease the suffering that continues today.

As I watch former foes greet one another as friends, German veterans and Polish veterans embracing as they remember their battles, I think of the magical song "Silent Night". In 1965 I learnt the original German version of Silent Night. Then only 20 years after the war, it was still too soon for Kiwi soldiers to be hearing it and was controversial for it to be taught in schools. Now we look at a peaceful Europe and wonder how could once have been so torn by war.

There is hope. But it seems that building peace takes more effort than going to war.

Monday, 13 December 2010

Music and Images for Peace

As some of the artists know, getting art work out of Italy is a difficult and expensive process. Artworks are seen as cultural heritage, and the protocol to take any art out of the country is severe to say the least. Some very generous artists have chosen to donate their work to local venues, like senior citizens homes. The work of one artist in particular, Angela Laby, I am hoping to place in schools as this work has text in English that would interest the children. (See photograph above). A picture is worth a thousand words, but when one grows up with words of peace in a picture seen every day, one must surely remember these for a lifetime.

The decision to work also with schools was affirmed for me this afternoon. I was invited to a school in Cassino to watch the end of year concert (a middle school, children around 12 - 13 years old I guess). This was in a fairly typical school hall, with excited children and throngs of parents. But the programme was far from typical. It was not about success and achievement, not about the school year. The theme of all the dialogue and songs was of sharing resources and cultures, of working to end poverty and oppression, and for peace. The theme appeared to be that Christmas is a time for thinking of others, and for understanding the true message of Christmas. This programme was not a "one off", but is repeated six times over two weeks to ensure that everyone has a chance to see it.

Each part of the world was presented with songs and dialogue, and finished with lighting a candle of hope for the children at risk in these places. Europe was represented in both French and Italian. The Americas were presented with both negative and positive stories, and the song (in English) "What a Wonderful World". When it came to Oceania I watched with much interest. What would it be? Children with painted faces, brown skivvies and tights, and "grass" skirts appeared... and to my amazement they performed a very convincing haka. This brought the audience to life far more than any other performance, and an encore was called for, not once, but twice. Later, despite two intervening acts of song and movement, as the hall emptied I could hear "Kamate, kamate..."

I waited behind to speak with the instructor, and to my surprise he knew much about the haka, the history, the protocol. This was no "dance rip-off" like the controversial car advertisement, but a true cultural exchange. Such is the memory in the town of Cassino of the performance of the NZ Army culture group in 2004.

This, together with a lovely book and photographs in today's post from Canadian visitors to Legato who said in their letter "Keep up the good work", has given me much heart.

Legato is a lot of work, finding funding is difficult, and at times it is a very lonely journey. Occasionally I wonder why I spend so much of my time and energy on this project. Then, when I see the generosity of artists, see how the art works move visitors, and remember the stories told to me by visiting veterans, I am very sure that, despite all the difficulties and frustrations, "the show must go on".

Thankyou Angela, for responding positively to the proposal to donate works to the people of Cassino. Today I think I found the right place for your messages of peace.

Saturday, 13 November 2010

They Died, for What?

Tomorrow at Caira is a ceremony for the 20,000 German soldiers who lie, six to a headstone, on their bleak conical hilltop near Cassino. Two days ago it was Remembrance Day, with ceremonies in far-flung places, and more to come tomorrow, Sunday. It is a time to remember all soldiers, and civilians too, and consider that there are no winners in war. The surviving soldiers were victims too, and societies continue to suffer from events that happened more than 65 years ago.

I was browsing "Remembrance Day" and Google produced a Canadian story (click here) typical of scenes all over italy.

Once Armistice Day, and renamed after WWII as Remembrance day, the moment of the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month each year is often commemorated on the Sunday closest to the 11th of November. This link has a comprehensive coverage of the history of the day, written for children. Please note the section added in grey, the text being:
We will remember all .....

Sadly, due to the current intensive operations, the names of many young men and women are now being added to war memorials throughout the land.

We give thought also to the many who are injured but, due to the miracles of modern medicine, are increasingly surviving with horrific injuries.

So, on Remembrance Day, we remember these people as well as those from the two great wars.


The challenging sculture by Dave Fowell asks what the civilians of Cassino would think, if they returned to look at the world now. Have we achieved the peace that "we" were fighting for when they lost their lives? Artists exhibiting in Legato had differing opinions.

Dave Fowell at Legato, Italy 2010 from Nicola Blackmore on Vimeo.

Dave Fowell suggests that nothing has changed, but argues that war is not the way to make changes for the better, while Averill Stuart-Head believes that soldiers able to return 65 years later would be satisfied that gains had been made and that the younger generations have better lives because of their sacrifices.

Quilted wall hangings by Averill, "Postcards to Peace" and "Doorways to Peace".

Averill Stuart-Head at Legato, Italy 2010 from Nicola Blackmore on Vimeo.

Averill speaks about her work and the soldiers who lost their lives.

Averill says that "Peace is so fragile, and we have to look after it". How easy it is to forget that, and how tragic the consequences when we do.

Works below: Collages by Averill, "Fragments of Peace"

Friday, 5 November 2010

Behind the Scenes

Legato (Italy 2010) is now all in boxes, packed ready to return to New Zealand. Some work is already safely back in New Zealand, so my sincere thanks go to the artists who took work back with them, some also taking work for others. Some is in the post, some has been posted and bounced back to me from customs, and other works are waiting until the intricacies of exporting artworks can be negotiated - that is, until I can get it all signed off in Rome.

Some generous artists have decided to donate their works to public spaces in Italy, and as soon as the madness of olive picking is over I will place these works. It's not only my own olives causing hold-ups, but the whole region slows down as people return to the countryside to make wine or pick olives. Frustrating perhaps for outsiders, but it is part of the charm that is Italy. You can cross hundreds of years in a day, if you happen to pass a woman carrying her supplies on her head, or an old man leading a mule laden with firewood up cobblestone paths, then look in on an oil press where the latest of technology is gleaming next to cane baskets of olives. I need to talk to the vice-mayor about placing some of the works, but he happens to own the local olive press... pian-piano, as they say here, or (in NZ) "good things take time".

Next week I should be back at my own computer, and luckily my data was salvaged and survived the reformatting of the hard drive. Then I will be able to access more readily the photographs and data I need for this blog.

In the meantime, above are more photos of Janice Corbishley's work which went "on location" to the restaurant at La Locanda del Castello for an evening a few weeks ago, before it was safely delivered home to New Zealand by a travelling artist.

Monday, 4 October 2010

Legato in New Zealand

The new Wallace Gallery, Morrinsville, will host Legato in 2011. The opening event will be Friday 18th February, and the exhibition will run until 16 March.

Before then, though, there are still works to be written about for this blog, and a new brochure to be compiled.

Each time I am ready to take the works down from the wires I get word that someone else is coming to see the exhibition. This weekend it was an Italian family of five, who were particularly moved by the watercolours by Sarah Scott. These powerful works were also appreciated by members of the New Zealand group who visited during the week. The paintings by Susan Edge also drew questions and comment as the Italian viewers appreciated the quality of the paintings and sought to understand the meanings behind the compositions.

The Kiwi visitors were so interested in the work and the history of the exhibition space and the battle of Cassino, and asked so many interesting questions, that I forgot to take photographs of the group in the exhibition.

A recurring theme coming up in discussions here, being volunteered by people who visited Legato in Cassino, is the passion and emotion in the paintings. Quite clearly the balance of works, the varied approaches, and the emotional links to the works is being read well by the Italian viewers. While a few works are standing out as being the most powerful, poignant or memorable for visitors, it is the diversity that creates a cultural richness in the exhibition.

Thursday, 23 September 2010

On their way home.

One of the most admired works in Legato is on its way back to New Zealand, travelling as precious hand luggage. This beautiful bust by Janice Corbishley is a fine example of the interweaving of memory, emotions, aesthetic appeal, and expert skills. More detail can be seen here on Facebook.

What has been interesting with this piece is that inevitably people who have been drawn to the work have also read every word of the text and the artist's biography, and I am sure will remember the link between the artist's uncle and the battles here in Italy.

If you are interested in seeing or commissioning more of her exquisite work Janice may be contacted through her website Mosaic Heirlooms or at the Red Peach Gallery.

Next Tuesday is the last day of the exhibition in Italy, and then other works begin to wend their way home.

Sunday, 12 September 2010

Tea, Peace and Legato.

This week we have been remembering "9/11". It is sobering to think how much time has passed since then with so little change in our politics and attitude to war.

Is war inevitable? I don't believe so.

If every government were to cut its military and defence budgets by half and contribute that half to peaceful works, to improving living conditions and to promoting cultural exchange and understanding, that must make a positive change over time.

If you think that this is too idealistic and that we can't make a difference, read Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin's Three Cups of Tea. One peace-loving man achieved what successive govenments have failed to do.

The text on the back cover of my copy of Three Cups of Tea reads:
"Here (in Pakistan and Afghanistan), we drink three cups of tea to do business; the first you are a stranger, the second you become a friend, and the third, you join our family, and for our family we are prepared to do anything - even die." Haji Ali, Korphe Village Chief, Karakoram Mountains, Pakistan.

In 1993 a mountaineer named Greg Mortenson drifted into an impoverished Pakistan village in the Korakoram mountains after a failed attempt to climb K2. Moved by the inhabitants' kindness, he promised to return and build a school. Three Cups of Tea is the story of that promise and its extraordinary outcome. Over the next decade Mortenson built not just one but fifty-five schools - especially for girls - in the forbidding terrain that gave birth to the Taliban. His story is at once a riveting adventure and a testament to the power of the humanitarian spirit."


Peace is not merely a distant goal that we seek, but a means by which we arrive at that goal.” - Martin Luther King Jr.


Legato has almost finished in Italy for 2010. The last group of 30 (New Zealand) visitors is booked to visit the gallery on 28 September. The following day I will close the exhibition and make changes in the gallery. I will miss the Legato works, which I wont see again until they are hung for the New Zealand version of Legato in February 2011. Some works have sold, going to New Zealand and Italian owners. Some are already back in New Zealand, and others are about to be on their way.

October will see in the huge task of getting the remaining works packed, transported to Rome, then re-packed, signed off and sealed in front of customs so that they can be shipped back to New Zealand. While this is happening, Canadian and selected New Zealand artists are already planning their works for the 2011 Legato (Italy).

I am very pleased that the New Zealand version of Legato in February will also include works that didn't travel to Italy for 2010. Works by Lisa Allen, Glenda Kane and Dave Roy will bring different dimensions to the exhibition in the New Zealand venue. Lisa and Glenda are among the artists/writers who have accepted an invitation to exhibit in Cassino in May 2011.

Wednesday, 4 August 2010

Word of Mouth - and a Challenge.

Legato continues to spread its message. Despite the extensive newspaper, internet and television advertising in the province in April and May, the ongoing interest in Legato continuing into August proves that the best advertising is always word of mouth. Visitors are continuing to book appointments to see the exhibition over the relentlessly hot summer, and I am sure that is not because the gallery is a cool oasis in a scorched land. Recently while in New Zealand I received a phonecall from Italy, from a repeat visitor who had requested another viewing of Legato and wanted to comment on the different emotional power of the exhibition in the new venue.

Here in New Zealand three veteran soldiers looked at the exhibition photos and remembered, chatted, discussed many aspects of their time in Italy, and expressed their appreciation of the Cassino exhibition. Fingers lingered on the photograph showing Merv Appleton's work, the grave marked with the rifle having personal meaning for each of them.

A caller from Wellington shared with me comments from the Maori community who were grateful that their fallen were remembered in the exhibition. And so it goes on. It is now almost three months since the opening and it is still being discussed both in New Zealand and in Italy.

Another visit, where friends were talking about an article in the Waikato Times featuring Sarah Scott's contribution to Legato, saw a very animated and wide-ranging discussion about war, peace, and the current situation in Afghanistan. Dave Fowell's work was the most appropriate to discuss in that context, and it continues to spread its message from its lofty home in the historic Italian village. The conversation was passionate, and the word that stays with me from that conversation is "avarice". Our hostess very emphatically attributed the power struggles causing conflict to greed, unequal distribution of resources and love of power.

Now that New Zealand has lost a soldier in Afghanistan on active duty it is timely to remind ourselves that commemoration and respect is not enough. To truly honour our fallen we must not allow their sacrifices to be in vain. Those artists who choose to work for peace must make that step, from the exhibition at Cassino, to "making work that reflects today's conflicts, today's victims, today's political status." (author, Legato depliant, 2010). One "artist" doing exactly this is Lucy Adlington, in her novel for teenagers based on the Battle of Cassino, Burning Mountain. Others include New Zealanders Glenda Kane and Lisa Allen with their sensitively illustrated and poignant story, Anzac Day Parade. These artists and writers are using their time, talents, skills and creativity with real purpose, and in doing so are truly making a difference.

Another book that must be mentioned is Greg Mortenson's Three Cups of Tea. One person with drive and vision really can change lives.

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.

Wednesday, 30 June 2010

Legato on Tour: Roccasecca (FR)

Legato opens again this weekend, having the honour of being the first official exhibition in a new gallery in Roccasecca (FR).

Stone walls well over 500 years old provide a very different context for the works, giving them a chapel-like setting.

Viewers coming down the stairs encounter first the powerful and poignant watercolour portraits by Sarah Scott. The reception area hosts the smaller, more personal works by Eleanor Wright and Kay de Lautour, while Ann Fletcher's work hangs peacefully over the piano, inviting quiet contemplation. Also to the left of the stairwell is the exquisite mosaic bust by Janice Corbishley, resting on a marble surface in front of an antique mirror which shows it to full advantage.

In the main gallery works by Margaret Piggott are grouped to tell a story. Theresa Cashmore's three works form one unified entity, adding a powerful message as the lights catch the gold leaf text and lead the viewer in to the many layers of messages. Across from this Ira Mitchell's "A Hero at Peace" is strong yet gentle as it offers solace to the bereaved.

The tombstone works by Sally Blyth are lit by candles in an alcove, picking out the softly incadescent glow not visible under the gallery lights in Cassino.

Late arrivals join the exhibition: Susan McPhee's work is on display for the first time in Italy and the four heart-shaped poetry/collage works by Beate Minderjahn combine to occupy one alcove of the gallery.

Other exhibiting artists include Margherita Giampietri, Frances Rookes, Pamela Tapp, Lorraine Beattie, Angela Laby, Rachel Olsen, Stan Blanch, Merv Appleton, Jon Stevenson, Helen Moore, Kari Lindsay-Beale, Lisa-Jane Harvey, Cath Sheard, Gail Boyle, Jenny Bennett, Katherine Batchelor, Linda Dickens, Lisa Taylor-King and Susan Edge.

Legato will be open to the public from this weekend, and may be seen by appointment throughout the summer.

(Photographs are a preview only, with some of the work not fully in place in these pictures).

Monday, 21 June 2010

Poppies for Remembrance

Artist Gail Boyle chose poppies as the theme of two of her works for Legato. The bright and clear images not only drew on the theme of remembrance but also gave messages of hope and life and added to the distinctly New Zealand presence in the venue.
Remembrance IRemembrance II

Gail Boyle

Nato ed educato ad Auckland, dipingere e' stata una mia passione fin dall'infanzia.

E' diventata poi una forma di meditazione, nel modo in cui mi immergo profondamente in forme, colori, luci e tessiture.

Trovo incoraggiante lavorare con varie tecniche e stili: al momento sto sperimentando gli acrilici, anche se la mia tecnica favorita rimarra' sempre la pittura ad olio.

Il mio lavoro si sviluppa con le esperienze di vita, permettendo ad ogni dipinto di conservare la freshezza e la spontaneita' del momento.

Sono stato molto fortunato nel ricevere una carriera di successo, ad avere i miei lavori in buona vista grazie alle pubblicazioni sul mercato internazionale.

Amo condividere la mia passione con gli altri, attraverso mostre ed insegnando arte, in Nuova Zelanda e all'estero.

La maggior parte dei miei lavori viene creata nel mio studio/galleria in Browns Bay. Le mie opere sono tenute in collezioni private, di Businesses e Governative.


Born and educated in Auckland, NZ, painting has been a passion since childhood. It becomes a form of meditation as I deeply immerse myself in all shape, form, colour, light and texture. I enjoy the challenge of working in a variety of mediums and styles, but my favourite remains - timeless Oils. I am now totally enjoying Acrylics. My work evolves with life’s experiences, enabling each painting to retain the freshness and spontaneity of the moment.

I have been richly blessed with success throughout my career, my works being well sought after for publication on the international market. I enjoy sharing my passion with others, via exhibitions and teaching art groups both throughout NZ and overseas.

The majority of my work is held in my home Studio/Gallery in Browns Bay. My paintings are held internationally in private, Corporate and Governmental collections.

Gail's "Faith, Freedom and Fun" provided a bright splash of colour above the deep blue chairs in the venue, and the abstract work allows the viewer to explore the free movement and mingling of the fresh, vibrant work which lifts the spirits and brightens the exhibition with its splash of colour.

It was very clear that this collection of work was from another culture, and colour was one of the aspects that highlighted this. Another striking feature was the diversity of the works, both in subject and media, while all following the two themes of peace and remembrance.

Saturday, 19 June 2010

Cool Kids Want Peace

Cool Kids Want Peace

Cools Kids Respect Other Cultures

Cool Kids Use Kind Words

German-born Kiwi artist Beate Minderjahn supplied Legato with tee-shirts to be distributed to local children. These shirts were given to young visitors to the exhibition, and more will be distributed, along with the message of peace, in two weeks time. Some went to America with tourists, but most will remain here in Italy. The messages, written in English, are mostly understood by the public, although some of the grandparents visiting with little ones have asked for translations.

My sincere thanks go to Beate for her very generous gift and positive actions, quietly but effectively promoting the message of peace.

Monday, 14 June 2010

Try to Remember Everything.

"Try to Remember Everything" by Susan McPhee is a deceptively simple piece, and photographs cannot do the sensitive acrylic/mixed media art work justice.

The artist explains her symbolism and inspiration:

The concept for ‘Try to Remember Everything’ is a New Zealand Totara tree growing in an Italian landscape. Private Jimmy Landreth, my husband’s uncle, of whom this painting is in honour, was born and raised in Owaka, The Catlins, surrounded by native bush. The totara is a valued and highly regarded tree, important for its long lasting qualities and mighty presence in the forest. On the totara I have mementos hanging which mimic a soldiers ‘dog-tag’. The mementos represent soldiers, civilians, family and also the brutal, senseless aspects of war. There are 23 in total - Jimmy’s age when he was killed in action at Rimini, Italy.

‘Try to remember everything lest we forget’.

Il concetto del "cercare di tenere vivo il ricordo di qualsiasi cosa" e' come una pianta di Totara neo zelandese che cresce in un paesaggio Italiano.

Private Jimmy Landreth, zio di mio marito, a cui questo dipinto e'dedicato, e' nato e cresciuto ad Owaka, nel Catlins, una zona circondata da alberi nativi. Il totara e' considerato un albero di gran valore, di una certa importanza, per le sue qualita' durature e per la sua maestosa presenza nella foresta. Ad un totara tengo appesi "souvenirs", simboli che ricordano le medaglie dei soldati. Gli oggetti dedicati alla memoria rappresentano i soldati, i civili, la famiglia e anche il brutale, insensato aspetto della guerra. Ce ne sono 23 in totale, come gli anni di Jimmy al momento in cui venne ucciso, in azione a Rimini.

"Cercando di ricordare tutto, prima che vada dimenticato"


L'arte per me e' l'espressione propria della persona che la crea. - e' il linguaggio visuale dell'anima. Ho sempre avuto un debole per la creazione dell'arte. Sin dall'infanzia mio padre mi ha trasmesso l'amore per il disegno, ma e' stato soltanto da adulta che mi sono sentita veramente attratta da una vita creativa. Nel 2006, dopo aver conseguito un Diploma in Arte e Creativita' alla Learning Connexion, ho messo su il mio studio da casa in Balclutha.

Come artista sono interessata all'espressione o alla cattura dell'essenza del soggetto da me scelto. La mia speranza e' quella di evocare l'impressione di un posto o di un momento, o di un pensiero o un sentimento – per creare una connessione emotiva con l'osservatore. Sono costantemente ispirata dalla natura e dalla bellezza naturale che mi circonda, che sia essere nel mio giardino circondata dagli esseri che lo abitano, piuttosto che in un campo del paesaggio del Sud della Nuova Zelanda. Sono orientata verso gli oggetti vintage che hanno una loro storia passata. Anche gli uccelli sono soggetti ricorrenti, elementi che tendono a ricordarmi della loro funzione “ il mantenimento dell'equilibrio tra cielo e terra”.

La mia tecnica si e' evoluta dall'uso unicamente dei colori al mescolamento di immagini in tecnica mista – compresi collages, texture, stampe, carboncini/matite e vernici. La pittura si sviluppa tramite vari livelli, che spesso prendono una loro propria direzione, e questo e' quello che piu' mi soddisfa nel processo creativo del portare questi elementi alla vita.

Adoro fare ricerca di materiali e riciclare, trovando sempre un modo per farne buon uso nei miei lavori. Le mie opere sono originali, uniche e piuttosto stravaganti.
In memoria di James Landreth, 22esimo Battaglione Nuova Zelanda 1921 – 3/10/1944
Credo nell'ascoltare i sussurri della propria anima. Quando mi e' stata proposta l'opportunita' di una mostra in Italia per la “Pace e la Memoria” , mi e' da subito sembrata una cosa giusta da fare.

Nonostante nessuno dei membri della nostra famiglia sia direttamente connesso alla battaglia di Montecassino, Pte James (Jimmy) Landreth fu ucciso in azione a Rimini, nell'Ottobre 1944. E' sepolto al Cimitero di Guerra di Cesena, Forli'. Sappiamo che fu coinvolto nell'attacco a Firenze durante il Luglio del 1944, pochi mesi dopo la battaglia di Cassino. Il ritratto di Jimmy in divisa da soldato e' tornato in nostro possesso solo recentemente ed e' ora appeso nel nostro ingresso. Aveva 23 anni quando venne ucciso ed e' un privilegio per me onorare il suo coraggio e fare luce sulle oscurita'.

Artist Statement:

To me art is the unique expression of the person creating it – it is visual language of the soul. I have always kindled a passion for the creating of art. From childhood my father fostered a love of drawing in me but it wasn’t until adulthood that I was once again inspired to live a creative life. In 2006, after completing a Diploma of Art & Creativity with The Learning Connexion, I set up a studio at my home in Balclutha.

As an artist I am interested in expressing or capturing the essence of my subject. My hope is to evoke impressions of a place or time, thought, or mood – to make an emotional connection with the viewer. I’m continually inspired by nature and the natural beauty that surrounds me, be it my garden and its inhabitants or further a field to the Southern New Zealand landscape. I am drawn to vintage things with a past life or history. Birds are also a reoccurring subject matter and I’m always reminded of the message they bring - ‘for balance between heaven and earth’.

My technique has evolved from using purely paint to combining painted images with mixed media techniques - incorporating collage, texture, printing, charcoal/pencil and varnishes. Paintings evolve through layers, often taking their own pathway and I gain much pleasure from the creative process involved in bringing them to life. I love sourcing and recycling materials and devising ways of using them in my work. My artworks are original, unique and often a bit quirky.

In Memory of Private James Landreth, 22nd NZ Battalion 1921 - 3/10/1944

I believe in listening to the whispers of your soul. When the opportunity to exhibit in Italy for 'Peace and Commemoration' was presented to me it just seemed so right. Although our family member is not directly linked to the Cassino battle, Pte James (Jimmy) Landreth was killed in action at Rimini, Italy, October 1944. He is buried at the Cesena War Cemetery, Flori, Italy. We know he was involved in the approach to Florence during July 1944, a few months after the Cassino battles. Jimmy's army portrait has recently come into our possession and now hangs in our hallway. On researching Jim'my's life history his character seemed to come alive. He was 23 years old when killed in action and it is my privilege to honour his bravery and 'light up the darkness'.

Sue McPhee
New Zealand

Tuesday, 8 June 2010

Specimens of War.

Katherine Batchelor's work for Legato held the attention of the historians and the children of Cassino for a particularly long time. Each specimen dish contains images and memorabilia, building up snapshots in time that are both personal and universal. Children wanted to understand the significance of every dish.

Katherine Batchelor

Nata a Helensville nel 1965, Katherine e' un'artista di tecnica mista, diplomata nel 2006 in Arte e Artigianato presso la Hungry Creek Art and Craft school e che oggi lavora nello studio di casa a Red Beach. Le esperienze personali, i problemi socio-ambientali, si mescolano nella creazione di opere espressive e suggestive.

Lyall George Taylor, D.O.B 29/3/1920
Service No: 408459
Rank Private
Seconda Guerra Mondiale NZEF 24th Battaglione - Italy
Durata del servizio - 3 anni

Lyall George Taylor, marito, figlio, zio, nonno, nipote e amico di molti e padre di quattro figli, Frank, Denise, Quinton e la sottoscritta Katherine, non ha mai parlato molto con noi della guerra.

Ma noi abbiamo sempre percepito l'effetto che questa ha avuto sulla sua anima.
Lui era orgoglioso di difendere la propria patria e deciso a morire per il compagno che combatteva accanto a lui, ma c'era una profonda tristezza nelle cose di cui ha fatto esperienza.
E questi effetti negativi sono stati tramandati a noi, ai suoi figli, nel suo modo di esserci padre.
Prego per la pace nel mondo.


Born in Helensville in 1965, Katherine is a mixed media artist who graduated in 2006 with an Art and Craft Diploma from Hungry Creek Art and Craft school and who now works from a studio at her home in Red Beach. Personal experiences, environmental and social issues intermingle to create expressive and evocative works.

Lyall George Taylor, D.O.B 29/3/1920
Service No: 408459
Rank Private
World War II NZEF 24th Battalion
Theatre of War - Italy
Length of Service - 3 years

Lyall George Taylor, a husband , a son, an uncle, a granddad, a nephew and a friend to many, and a father to the four of us {Frank, Denise, Quinton, and myself, Katherine , never spoke much to us of the war. But we felt the affect it had had on his soul. He was proud to defend his country and willing to fall for his mate beside him but there was a deep sadness about the things he had experienced. And those affects have been passed to us , his children, in the way he fathered us. I pray for world peace.

Thursday, 3 June 2010

Legato continues to spread the message

Legato is on the move. A proud but still incredulous bus driver managed to load his delicate cargo with skills that would make a tetris player weep!

Paintings were sorted into "large, small, well protected, less cushioned, works with glass, extra fragile..." and then slotted into the van with great care. There wasn't a cubic inch to spare, and in fact the back view was all cardboard, right to the roof. Once safely on the move the driver called his father to warn that the mini bus might well be stopped by the carabinieri on the way home, and on arrival he photographed his handiwork before we began the task of unloading. Feedback still comes in from people who have seen, or wished that they had seen, the exhibition in Cassino. While most of the work is safely in storage awaiting the next showing in Italy, various pieces have had to come out again as people ask to see their favourite items again.

Twelve works by six artists have new owners, others are "under negotiation" and some work has returned to New Zealand with the artists to pre-arranged sales or other exhibitions. The remaining works can (just) fit into a mini-bus and will be shown again in Italy at other venues.

More interesting to me though are not the sales but the comments. Several pieces have emerged as having really powerful messages, and are much admired. These are also the pieces that should remain in a public collection rather than private homes. One in particular has "almost sold" several times, then on reflection the would-be owners have decided that the work would disturb them too much as they looked at it daily. We can be sure that that image ("Ritirata" by Margherita Giampietri), along with other images, has left an indelible impression on many viewers.

Comments include (in translation)
"Our compliments, this exhibition has touched us deeply. Best wishes and happiness to you from a couple whose hearts you have moved so much".
"You can feel that the works have been made from the heart"
"Thankyou for sharing your culture in this fantastic exhibition"
"Truly touching and emotional"
"Of a high level, congratulations"
"Very moving, you can "feel" the message that this exhibition is about".
"Touching and thoughtful works"
"These works should stay together as a collection and travel further, wonderful exhibition"
"That soldier really speaks to me"
"Many compliments, it is a beautiful exhibition"
"Very, very beautiful"
"This exhibition truly "makes you feel" that it has been created with great feeling and passion".
"An exhibition that is really "poetic", my compliments to the artists and organisers".

Visitors included people from Germany, Poland, America, Canada, New Zealand and of course local Italians. Many of the people from Cassino and nearby towns returned several times, really getting to know the works and the messages behind them.

My heartfelt thanks go to those who continue to spread the message behind the exhibtion, keeping it alive even now the works are no longer on display.

And, for some of the artists, there was time to relax a little, enjoy some good Italian food in the host town of Roccasecca, and reflect on their experiences of cultural differences and similarities, and working together for a more peaceful world.

Saturday, 29 May 2010

Legato at Cassino

"It's the paintbrush versus the gun as the biggest ever collection of New Zealand art in Italy prompts the question: Can art change the world?"

Legato at Cassino from Nicola Blackmore on Vimeo.

Wednesday, 26 May 2010

Photos from Legato

Thanks to photographer Derek Bunn for these images.
Avv. Beniamino Papa (Assessore alla cultura Comune di Cassino), Kay de Lautour (organiser and curator of Legato), and Margherita Giampietri (exhibitor and translator).

Sophia Elise (exhibitor and New Zealand liaison) at the exhibition with Kay de Lautour, organiser and curator of Legato.

A glimpse into a corner of the exhibition.

The end of a very long day!

Sunday, 23 May 2010

A Different Approach to Colour

The moment you step into the room you register, either consciously or unconsciously, that this in an unusual exhibition in this part of Italy. The works are modern, colourful and diverse, despite being linked by a common theme. Although sombre and serious in message, they somehow combine to form a colourful and deceptively light-hearted show that has a distinctly New Zealand flavour.

Sculpture (below) "Siamo morti, per cosa?" by Dave Fowell.

The exhibition is up to version three, with fairly major changes in placement as new works arrive. All works get their day under the spotlight, but some of the earlier arrivals are now on display in the entrance foyer to make room for new arrivals under the lights. (The choice of being under the chandelier or under the exhibition lights is not a bad one, really!) These photographs are not in any particular order, nor do they show all the works on display.

Wednesday, 19 May 2010

Tuesday, 18 May 2010

Splinters in Fingers.

The final "official" part of the proceedings is over. Gifts have been presented to dignitaries. Long speeches have been delivered, translated and applauded. Official delegations from various countries involved in this week's Cassino commemorations have been lead through Legato. It's been a long week, and it's still only Wednesday here.

The New Zealand Embassy put on a nibbles-and-drinks reception on Monday night, at which most of the artists said their goodbyes and travelled on to sightseeing further south.

The exhibition, however, is still a work in progress. Paintings are still arriving, hanging issues are being tweaked, and updated price lists and artist details have been delivered to the venue. Everyone left here is quietly exhausted.

I have many more films to make, but this post will have to serve while the web-watchers are waiting for video. I'm the odd observer here; the one that makes the coffee, cleans the towels, buys toilet paper for the venue. I'm also a video journalist rather than an artist, and as I've talked to the participants I've gained an overall view of what's been happening.

Opinions, predictably for a large group, are divided. Some love where they've been placed, others are not as happy. Some are motivated solely by the promotion of peace, others are understandably desperate to sell to cover the costs of the trip. Some are glad and grateful to be here, others are home-sick, travel-sick or simply sick of Italian food.

There's a lot of culture shock, in both directions. It's not just the language, it's the way things happen here. We're in Southern Italy, where people don't drink without food, where tradesmen don't always turn up when they say they will. Some cultural mores are easy to adapt to: Italians flirt constantly and everyone enjoys the game of making each other feel wanted and happy. Artists have been adopted by various local families and over-fed with attention and regional food. But local political ructions impacted on the opening night, with the Italian invitations going out late and with the wrong time on them.

The good news is that the exhibition is busy despite this. The works are hung in the Italian way, with names and prices in a folder on the desk rather than by the art. People frequenting the cafe next door are spreading the word, and regular fixtures within the exhibition room and adjacent library means the eyeball count for the days so far is pretty good. It doesn't really matter if artists are focussed on profit or peace, both aims are served well by a busy exhibition with an impressive visual impact.

As for those still spending hours on the phone to customs or manning the exhibition, the view with the most impact is the inside of their eyelids...

Monday, 17 May 2010

20-something hands make light work...

Under way...

Cassino is now host to not just 30 or so tired New Zealanders but the Legato exhibition, open and in full swing. Many of the artworks are strongly New Zealand, and it sometimes seems wierd to see them hung in an Italian way, with no names and a discreet book of information at the desk. It's also very Italian to wander through after a coffee in the bar beside us, inspecting every work carefully before coming back with friends. Legato is establishing itself as an event to pay attention to.

In a few hours there will be the promised video report on the opening day. We will also be posting photos of the exhibition as and when they come in. For now, it's off to the ceremony at the Commonwealth war graves in Cassino, followed by a visit to the exhibition by the NZ Ambassador to Rome. The day concludes with a reception hosted by the New Zealand Embassy.

Friday, 14 May 2010

Kiwi Invasion

The Commander-in-Chief of this army of peace has given the job of blog to a lesser ranked communications officer. I'm Nicola, the videographer for the Legato exhibition, and on the eve of the opening I've taken over the writing of this blog. Please excuse the change of style. Kay is currently lost under lists of things to do and only the scent of tea or the sound of a cell-phone brings her to the surface.

Over the last few days the pace has changed from hectic to chaotic as wave after wave of kiwi artists (lugging tubes of rolled canvas and oddly shaped parcels) sweep into the small Italian village of Roccasecca. It's a bit ironic that an exhibition promoting peace has prompted such tumult and noise. "Legato" is demonstrating that peace can be a state of delight and laughter, not just calm. It is also showing that there is room for lofty ideas and philosophical chat alongside the mundane minutae of bedding, brackets and bolts, or breakfast in a foreign place.

By tomorrow night (Italian time) the artworks will be in place, the opening party will have started and those lucky enough to be here will be able to view the culmination of a huge amount of effort from many many people, all working towards the common goal of world peace and remembrance. We wish you were here to enjoy it too.

For those that couldn't make the trip I am hoping to have video highlights throughout the course of the exhibition available online, so keep checking this blog for updates.

Sunday, 9 May 2010

Latest NZ Press Release

Organiser Kay de Lautour preparing for the NZ art exhibition in Cassino, Italy, this weekend.

Emotions of about 40 NZ artists appear on canvas at the big exhibition in Italy to mark Kiwi involvement in Battle of Cassino
By Word of Mouth Media NZ

The biggest Kiwi art exhibition in Italy and one of the most moving NZ art events overseas opens at Cassino in Italy on Saturday.

The event will be held at Cassino on May 15-29 to commemorate New Zealand’s involvement in the Battle of Cassino there 66 years ago.

Kiwi artists who have a connection with soldiers who fought in Cassino make up most of the entries. Italian-based Kiwi organiser Kay de Lautour Scott said it was their "busy time" of the year in Cassino with veterans groups, commemoration services and unveiling of new memorials.

The NZ art exhibition has attracted substantial interest in Italy and will be held in Cassino’s public library with a formal gala opening on Saturday. Many of the artists are depicting links between New Zealand and Italy, featuring their fallen relatives and other connections to the battle.

De Lautour Scott said works range from showing the destruction and horror of war (Merv Appleton of Auckland and Ronda Turk of Levin) to the tranquillity of the peace rose (Jenny Bennett of Whangarei).

Works by Italian born artists (now living in NZ) Margherita Giampietri (Whitianga)and Francesca Gallo (Auckland) reflect childhood memories and culturally integrated themes.

''American-based Sarah Scott's portraits have a challenging poignancy, showing the personal tragedy of war while the paintings by Chrissy Brook (Christchurch) and Rachel Olsen (Whitianga) bring a rich New Zealand flavour to the exhibition. Susan Edge (Waipu) has produced four works bringing a different perspective to the history she has explored.

Ann Fletcher (Opotiki) offers a space for contemplation in a delicately woven pencil work, while Frances Rookes (Taranaki) uses a genuine army blanket in her 3 dimensional textile and wire art. Eleanor Wright's (Auckland) delicate charcoals include a portrait of her grandfather in uniform.

It is evident that a lot of research has been done, and veterans have contributed to the stories being told in paint, glass, photography and sculpture. Other works are being sent over for display in Italy to bring a sense of closure to families and veterans.’’

About a dozen artists head to Cassino this weekend for the exhibition opening. Most of the contributing artists had grandparents, uncles and relatives who fought in World War Two, or who fought in Italy and some had parents, grandparents and uncles who were at the Battle of Cassino.

Artists taking part are from Patea, Christchurch, Upper Hutt, Waipu, Whitianga, the USA, Italy, Auckland, Mt Maunganui, Napier, Opotiki, Orewa, South Otago, Whangarei, Levin, New Plymouth, Palmerston North, Oban, Pokeno and Wellington.

The NZ Ambassador to Rome Laurie Markes will tour the exhibition on May 17. The event has been organised by de Lautour in Cassino and NZ Art Guild manager Sophia Elise (in Auckland) without charging for any of their services.

Saturday, 8 May 2010

Facing Realities

This acrylic work, "Puzzled" by Margherita Giampietri, adds to the diversity of ideas that will be portrayed in Legato. There are almost as many different approaches to the themes of peace and commemoration as there are artists involved. The art is selecting itself into groups, or, as I prefer to see it, puts itself into imaginary "rooms" as different genres, colours and themes begin to emerge.

In the painting above Margherita refers to her father's confusion about the need for war. Please click on this post for more details in English.

Margherita writes:

Sono cresciuta con i racconti del tempo di guerra: facevano da corona ai lunghi pranzi natalizi e pasquali. Quando i "grandi" iniziavano a ricordare io riemergevo da sotto il tavolo dove mi nascondevo dopo gli antipasti, per evitare di mangiare. Noi bimbi conoscevamo gia' tutte le storie, ma non ci stancavamo mai di riascoltarle. Erano storie tristi, drammatiche, piene di dolore in cui a volte c'era la vena comica di chi sa di aver scampato la morte. Probabilmente non ce le hanno mai raccontate tutte.

Mio padre, Alfeo Giampietri, era Sottufficiale di Macchina a bordo dell' "Augusto Riboty ". Aveva 20 anni quando scoppio' la guerra.

Fu ferito gravemente durante un bombardamento a Trapani nel 1943, mentre era in libera uscita con due amici. Rimase sepolto sotto le macerie per due giorni ascoltando i lamenti dei suoi amici che morivano e invocavano la mamma...aspettando il suo turno. Fu fortunato, lo trovarono, lo estrassero dalle macerie, subi' un'operazione per ricostruirgli una gamba e infine lo mandarono a casa in convalescenza.

Non era finita: fu rastrellato dai tedeschi ( sulla linea Gotica) assieme a suo padre Giuseppe, i miei zii, parenti e tutti gli altri uomini del paese, per rappresaglia dopo il cambio di bandiera fatto dagli italiani, e spedito in Germania. Alla fine della guerra passo' nelle mani dei Russi che dopo un po' di tempo li lasciarono liberi. Rientrarono in Italia a piedi e con mezzi di fortuna.

La mia pittura e' semplice, disegno col pennello, ma cerco di rappresentare le emozioni che i racconti di guerra mi hanno instillato fin da bambina:

"PUZZLED" (Acrilico) e' un gioco di parole: e' un "puzzle" di volti di giovani uomini che si trovano, loro malgrado, a incrociare e incastrare la vita gli uni con gli altri, alcuni sono vivi altri non piu', ma "puzzled" in inglese significa stupito, disorientato, perplesso. E' dedicato a mio padre ed ai giovani costretti a combattere.

Friday, 7 May 2010

Forever Connected

Chrissy Brook, che attualmente vive a Christchurch, dipinge da circa dieci anni esibendo i suoi lavori un po' in tutta la Nuova Zelanda. Il suo metodo preferito e' nell'uso di colori forti e tessiture. E' stata istruita per cinque anni dall'artista di Canterbury Robert McDowell, da cui tutt'ora segue lezioni ogni sabato presso il suo studio.

Chrissy usa spesso motivi artistici Maori che riflettono il suo background culturale. La tribu' a cui appartiene si chiamano Ngai Tahu e Te Atiawa. Suo padre Syd Mansbridge era membro del secondo battaglione neo zelandese, del 6^ Reggimento di Artiglieria, 48 ^Batteria, Don Troop, e fu di stazionamento a Cassino durante la seconda guerra.

Ha partecipato al 60^ anniversario della battaglia celebrata a Cassino nel 2004.
L'opera realizzata per questa mostra rappresenta la connessione che ancora oggi esiste tra le famiglie dei veterani e la comunita' di Cassino. La forma di un koru a Monte Cassino rappresenta un giovane uomo che ha perso la vita in quella battaglia e che per sempre e' rimasto in Italia, mentre il koru raffigurato nel cielo rappresenta il giovane uomo che e' tornato a casa alla pace e alla liberta'. Le parole sono prese da una lettera che il padre di Chrissy spedi' alla madre durante la guerra. Si sposarono nel 1946 e celebreranno il loro 60 esimo anniversario in Giugno, quindi giorni piu' felici li attendono in futuro.

“E' un onore prendere parte a questa mostra come tributo a mio padre, ai suoi compagni e al popolo di Cassino”

Chrissy Brook, who lives in Christchurch, New Zealand, has been painting for ten years and has exhibited throughout New Zealand. She enjoys the use of bold colours and textures. She has been tutored by leading Canterbury artist Robert McDowell for five years and still attends his studio every Saturday morning.

Chrissy often uses Maori motifs in her works which reflect her cultural heritage. Her iwi are Ngai Tahu and Te Atiawa. Chrissy's father, Syd Mansbridge, who was a member the 2nd NZEF, 6th Field Artillery Regiment, 48 Battery, Don Troop, was stationed at Cassino during world war 2. He attended the 60th anniversary celebrations at Cassino in 2004.

The painting represents the connection, which still exists today, between the families of veterans and the community of Cassino. The koru shapes in Monte Cassino represent the young men who died there and will remain forever a part of Italy while the koru in the sky above the mountains of New Zealand represent the young men who came home to peace and freedom. The writing is taken from a letter sent by Chrissy's father to her mother during the war. They were married in 1946 and will be celebrating their 64th wedding anniversary in June - so there certainly were happier days ahead! "It is an honour to be able to be part of this exhibition as a tribute to my dad, his comrades and the people of Cassino."

Monday, 3 May 2010

A Way with Words

Auckland based Christian artist Theresa Cashmore began her career in Graphic Design, and she worked in that field for many years. Her most internationally recognized design work is the logo for the Rugby World Cup. Her paintings almost invariably contain text, and her work for Legato is no exception.

Painting above: "Remember", acrylic on canvas with 23ct gold leaf.

Sunday, 2 May 2010

Diverse Works Resonate in this Village

Works (and text in italics) by Helen Moore, glass artist.A Winged heart between body and soul
Flying for the love of God on wings of joy
Breaking free from the chains and barbed wire bullets
To the calm of the heaven blue beyond.

This piece is called the Tell Tale Heart, because when you look at all the symbolism that makes up each element it speaks for itself.
The heart is love, white is the colour of mourning purity and life. The poppy is the symbol of sacrifice, death, resurrection after death and renewal of life. Barbed wire is the graphic image of captivity, political violence and death. It is a wall without being a wall and it magnifies the distinction between inside and outside.


When Sophia Elise of the New Zealand Art Guild accepted my invitation to join this project I was still thinking in terms of paintings. The logistics of transporting and displaying other works was in my "too hard" basket. I hadn't really thought about the extent of the networking of the NZ Art Guild, thinking only that Sophia seemed to be very effective at getting things happening for good causes. Soon I was getting emails asking if 3D art, glass art and sculpture was suitable. I wrote back asking for the stories connecting these artists to Cassino.

If there is one thing that I have come to believe in recent years, it is that anything is possible. Having read the stories, cried through the emails, and thought about the exhibition and the artists, I said "Yes, we will find a way". So, above you see a handmade lampworked glass heart, wrapped in Sterling Silver wire, and handmade lampworked glass beads, combined with hand sewn glass seed beads. (The artist had no way of knowing that around my house is barbed wire left when my house was a fortified German bunker and supply depot, or that the post-war stories for the family in this home were tragic ones).

I am amazed at the range of works coming together in Italy - but mostly I am thrilled at how the New Zealand media has taken the project to heart and made it possible for veterans and artists to connect. The shared stories and the family histories that are emerging, then merging in the artwork, are a part of what makes us a nation. We are only four million people, and with the support of the media connection is so much easier. Legato is a vehicle for communication, before anything else.

Friday, 30 April 2010

Timeless Images

"Santo Benedetto e le Columbe di Pace"Some of the artists involved in this exhibition have taken the opportunity to produce work different from their usual art. Artist Susan Edge, better known for her colourful, rather whimsical and always cheerful naive art, has used a recent photo of the statue of St Benedict and an ancient painting of St Benedict as her source (below) to produce a work (above) that is both old and new.

The statue is in the entrance cloister of the Abbey, and represents St Benedict in a moment of joyous rapture as he goes to meet God. St Benedict was aware that the moment of his death was approaching, and asked to be taken to his favourite cloister where monks supported him as he awaited death.

Susan has created a younger St Benedict, sharing joy with the doves, the symbol of peace. Doves do often waddle around in this cloister, completely unphased by the thousands of visitors who pass through every year.

(The doves above really did arrive one by one... like me choosing to stay in the shade rather than go out into the sunny grassed area by the statue where they usually congregate).