Snakes and Ladders

Artists’ residencies are wonderful things. They give you the opportunity to step out of the norm, refresh, reevaluate and hunker down to uninterrupted work, free from day to day distractions.

These are some of the things I learnt on my residency in Pietrafitta:

When all else fails, you can communicate a lot with the universal language of arm waving – and even share a joke.

Type writing is a skill, which sadly I am lacking.

The sound of church bells is a beautiful thing, once I had become accustomed to the chimes every quarter of an hour from 7am to 9pm. Every so often I would be taken unawares by a sonatina lasting ten minutes or more – in turn melodic, discordant, melancholic and uplifting. I would stop what I was doing, transfixed by the sound.

It is good to have a mother figure near by who takes delight in feeding you. In this case Gina, who kept me sustained with delicious regional dishes.

Foraging in remote villages is not a hipster activity, picking a few leaves for an instagram perfect pic. It is a serious mission to harvest and preserve as much as possible for the year ahead.

There are many ladders in Pietrafitta. Once I had spotted one I began to see them everywhere, leaning against trees, propped on sides of buildings, in outhouses and through doorways. For me, these became a symbol of the ‘busyness’ I mentioned in a previous blog, the daily activity of fixing and mending. I felt compelled to document them.

There really are snakes in the region. Having been told many a time, I had naïvely discounted this as folklore, until I came across two on the way to the village shop. I was told they had been run over while in an amorous entanglement. And wow were they big!

There are also massive wasps, one of which I found in the kitchen.

I found the locals very kind and friendly.

Which leads me to wonder what they made of this stranger in their midst? The villagers seemed to take me in their stride despite my sometimes bizarre activities. Having found a fascinating array of objects in the residency house I took to displacing and relocating them around the village environs to photograph them. ‘Where is she going with that record player? What’s she doing in that shed?’

I wasn’t sure myself at times…