(In Italiano: http://valeriapierini.it)
After a two-day’s journey, I started my artist residency at St. Augustine’s Old Schoolhouse.
In Derry the houses have a beautiful light, the windows are amazing. In my first day, Paola showed me the city Walls and Derry’s map. In the afternoon I walked on the Walls, gate after gate, bastion after bastion. At the top of the Walls you can see through the windows of the houses cloistered around the Walls. I would love to live in every single one of them. Behind every window there is a story.
Over the hill above the Bogside there is an old building with lyrics from the Undertones on the rooftop. I couldn’t not love it.
I am surprised about the passing of time, about how I perceive it. The hours seem to double, in fact, we are very far north (54° N, like Canada) and in this period of the year there are at least two extra hours of light compared to Italy. I am fascinated by the fact that the deeper you go northwards the more the light increases. Maybe, the inhabitants of south Europe don’t usually think about this. Maybe because they go to the sea in summer, winters not are too terrible, the light is well-balanced between day and night. Maybe it is not a coincidence that, before I left for Northern Ireland, everyone I met asked me about the weather, nobody asked me how much light there is. I’m surrounded by light, that enters in my bedroom in the morning, that pervades every corner of the house where I live and my studio.
On my second day I went to Belfast. The city is lively and vibrant, with its red brick buildings, glass buildings and fascinating street lights. Derry, on the other hand, is quiet and muffled: the sounds, how people move. Thanks to the great view from the bus I could scan though the landscape again: vegetation, colors, crouching sheep whose shape I often confused with the surrounding fields. My first impression during the journey from Dublin to Derry was renewed: the landscape had become familiar to me as the Italian landscape. At night, I saw from the bus what looked like some Italian town seen from a highway. But in Italy, often, you see villages scattered like diamonds on hills and mountains, here the built environment is much smaller than in Italy. Certainly not less fascinating.
I started photographing the garden of St. Augustine at different times of the day. I plan to continue this exercise, that I usually assign to my photography students, for a week. Same frame, same settings, only the light changes, hour by hour, photo by photo. When you have the opportunity to work in a place that becomes your studio, exhibition and project space, you see it under different points of view. My practice is not documentation based, this is why my exercise of accumulation is a conceptual reflection about time, about what we see without noticing it.
Last Saturday I walked along the river, northbound. In a precious and distinct moment, I felt the unmistakable and vibrant scent of the sea. I witnessed the River Foyle taking in the Northern Sea’s tides, reversing the course of the current, swollen with wind and dark and violet waters.
Take any minute. A tide
Is running in
At the foot of all fields,
All cliffs and shingles.
(Shoreline, Seamus Heaney)