Sunday Supplement ITALIA – Tuscany Wharf: 15km to San Gimignano
It’s ITALIA Season on the Daily Norm, celebrating, for at least two weeks, everything that’s fantastic about Italy. And to kick of the season, here on the Sunday Supplement, the weekly showcase of my art, I am featuring my 2010 painting, Tuscany Wharf: 15 km to San Gimignano.
I was inspired to paint the scene when my Partner’s family and I were driving through the incredibly beautiful green and golden rolling hills of the Tuscan countryside. The journey, from Donoratico down on the coast up through the hills, past Volterra and on to San Gimignano involved so many curves and bends and meanders through the Tuscan countryside that when we reached a road sign advising us that after around 90 minutes of said meandering, we were finally within 15 km reach of our final destination, my Partner, whose face was very green by that point, breathed a huge sigh of relief, or as much of a sigh as could be mustered after a double dose of very soporific travel sickness tablets.
As we approached San Gimignano, a UNESCO world-heritage protected town, famous for its collection of medieval towers which grew taller with each new construction as rich merchant families sought to compete with one another, the view was better than ever. Approaching the town from some distance, seeing the iconic towers gradually emerging from behind the brow of a set of undulating hills, was quite a sight, and one which I have attempted to capture in my painting, which celebrates all the beauty of the Tuscan countryside from rows of perfectly lined up vineyards and golden fields with rolled up hay, to the curly-wurly road itself, rising and falling over and around the crests of hills, lined by cypress trees and Italian pines.
However what makes this representation of Tuscany different is that sliced through one part of the landscape is a vertical insight into another world. It’s industrial Northern England, a scene with such industrialised toxicity that the smoke bellowing out from the factory chimneys pour into the Tuscan scene, filling turquoise skies with a decided collection of clouds. The English scene, which was inspired by the works of L. S. Lowry, was inserted by way of marked contrast to the beauty of the Tuscan scenery. However both scenes appear to be in sync, as if they represent the same geography in a parallel universe. Where the tuscan hills roll upwards, the english scene follows the same trajectory, with a row of cramped terraced houses following the same incline of the Tuscan hill. Where in tuscany there is a round bail of hay, in the English scene, the bail of hay is replaced with a cylindrical oil container. Similarly the roses, planted next to a vineyard so the grape grower can detect disease early, is replaced by the barbed wire keeping trespassers off the industrial site. Thus it is that the two landscapes appear inescapably conflicting, and yet coexisting in perfect union.
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- San Gimignano,Tuscany (leggotunglei808.wordpress.com)