Monthly Archives: October 2017

Italy, Venice, Burano  – island of lace, colored buildings and excellent fish risotto.

I’d never even heard of Burano before I researched Venice. It is an island in the Venetian Lagoon beyond Murano (of glass fame) and about 30 minutes by vaporetto from San Marco. It is well worth a visit, not just for its lace for which it is famous but because it has loads of colorful houses that the locals actually live in. It is a perfect place to visit on a weekend when Venice is too unbearable with weekenders swarming all around. It is much quieter and nice to wander around. If you eat dinner there try their famous Risotto – it is a fish version and white so not much to look at but it was very tasty indeed.

Italy, Venice – Peggy Guggenheim museum 

Loved the Peggy Guggenheim museum. Fab palazzo where she lived on the canal, great collection of modern art (she collected modern art extensively before it became trendy) and she was just an eccentric lady .  All in all – loved her collection. She is credited with discovering and mentoring Jackson Pollack and seems to have had affairs with many of the famous artists she collected. She had a strange and sad life – father died in the Titanic, she was a relatively “poor” Guggenheim so was funded by her uncle and she had some unhappy marriages and 7 abortions, the man she really loved was killed in a car accident and her daughter committed suicide. Check out the documentary “Art Addict” if you want to know more – it is excellent.

Here a few of her pieces – must not be missed if visiting Venice.

Italy, Venice – Biennale Day 5  Azerbaijan, glass art and a statement of some kind (you can decide what) in gold leaf!! 

Sometimes you see some things at the Biennale that appeal and that is how I felt about the little Azerbaijan Pavilion which focused on music bringing people together in spite of other differences. The balalaika sculpture was just lovely and the perfect sphere created by a wide variety of musical instruments says a lot without words.

I included the Gold leaf ginormous pole – just because I can!


We got to see a fair bit of glass art on this day – I like the medium of glass so enjoyed this a lot but it is very difficult to photograph. What intrigued me is how many different ways the medium can be and is displayed – as you can see it is not only about  glass vessels.

Top right and cover photo artist shows what you can do with glass and a lot of imagination. The glass looks almost soft and furry but actually it is made up of thousands of tiny pieces of broken glass. (No health and safety concerns when it is art – obviously.)

The top left and bottom right is the Australian glass artist Roslynd Piggott who etches into multiple layers of glass which are then displayed like paintings. Impressive for her to get a gig in Venice although sadly as glass is not really taken very seriously as an art form in Australia she has to work out of the US

Italy, Venice Biennale days 3 & 4

Palazzo Fortuny used to be owned by the Fortuny designer and is now home to some of the Biennale exhibits. Some of these Palazzos are worth visiting for the architecture as well as the art.

Below is an example of video art which starts and ends with squiggles which I enjoyed watching.

Below is an original Fortuny ceiling light and a scale model of the Palazzo. Underneath is some fun art from the Azerbaijan Pavilion and then some fun art from me:) – hopefully you can tel which is my work?!?

And talking of me pretending to be an artist – there is Damien Hirst’s first exhibition in ten years. The premise is treasure found under the sea from a shipwreck of many years ago. Most of the treasure is colossal in size and is being shown both at Palazzo Grassi and the Punta Della Dogana (both buildings owned by the billionaire Francois Pinault). Of course the whole thing is a hoax but they created the pieces (offshore production I think) then dropped them in the sea and then dug them up again so they would have some video art showing the divers “discovering” the “treasures”.

I’ve never been a fan of Hirst and now I’m less of one. These exhibits would have cost millions of dollars to make and ship and instal in Venice but he must surely think he is having the last laugh if anyone takes this seriously as a worthy comeback. Disappointing but no doubt will sell well after the exhibit:(

And is that green head a Caravaggio rip off or what (see earlier post with the original)?

And below is what I mean by “colossal”.

Italy, Biennale Day 2

The Venice Biennale began in 1934 and every second year showcases an artist who represents their country in a variety of old palazzos, deconsecrated churches and other historical buildings around the city. There are two main places to see a variety of pavilions (Giardini Gardens and the Arsinale).

First stop at the Giardini was the Australian Pavilion (of course). Tracy Moffatt was representing Australia and her photos and videos are very evocative. One of the better country exhibits making points about her aboriginal background and also today’s refugees but not (too) overly in your face.

Next a visit to the New Zealand Pavilion at the Arsinale. I loved this. It’s a really wide screen showing continuous scenes related to the British landing on Maori land – whole thing lasts about 40 minutes. Beautifully shot and an extension of other works this artist (Lisa Reihana) has done over the past few years. Mesmerizing. Well done NZ.

Italy, Venice – Biannale day 1

Main reason for this Italy trip was to finally see Venice during a Biennale. Never been to a Biennale and last time I was in Venice was for one day when I was about 22 – and it poured down. It’s been sunny here so far.

We are spending each afternoon at different Biennale exhibits so I will showcase these and save the Venice pics for the end of the trip. But here is me arriving on day one by water taxi having taken the train from Bologna – so excited to see this amazing and magical city.

This was my favourite exhibit of day one – from Andorra. Lots of clay pots in every colour imaginable – reflecting the human race. It had a wow factor as soon as you walked into the space.

Then on to an artist who does silk screen on mirrors which means you end up part of the art. I liked his Cuban works in particular. Those people seem to pop out of the mirror. Not sure about the pile of clothes but it is colourful:).

Finally a pretty nifty glass exhibit. Hundreds of solid glass bricks in wild colours. Playful and engaging.

Italy, Bologna – city of wonderful light and colours.

What a great town Bologna turned out to be. It is known as one of the foodie hotspots in Italy – mortadella, balsamic vinegar and of course the real bolognese sauce come from there.

Bologna is traditionally described as fat, red and wise referring to its food, rooftops (and politics!) and the fact it has the oldest university in Europe.

For those of you in Europe this is a perfect weekend destination especially as the three main streets are pedestrianised on weekends and it is the kind of place to wander around and browse. Open air food markets on Saturday and retro market on Sunday were great.

Our excellent foodie tour was with CiaoItalia and we had a good meal at Il Tinello – relaxed and friendly environment.

And the whole weekend was made extra special as my friends Sylvie and Andrew came out from London for the weekend. I’ve known Sylvie since I was about 4 and as teens she was obsessed with Marc Bolan and for me it was David Cassidy! We used to shop together then and it seems like nothing much has changed.

Ice cream flavours in Bologna – raspberry and red wine (!), cheesecake and wild berries and marscapone.

Next stop – week in Venice for the Biennale and some sightseeing too.