Somewhere in those mountains, in the scenty , cyclamen carpeted pine forests of Trentino, there are bears; real bears. The European Brown Bears, Arctos Ursus, whose numbers are growing thanks to a reintroduction programme in the area, were (having probably been warned by the Red Squirrels of Newlands Valley)) hiding when we visited the Dolomites last week. Knowing there may be a bear watching from behind a tree certainly puts a different complexion on a post pizza stroll along the side of a turquoise river, surrounded by blinding white, spikey limestone mountains. I wish I’d seen one, but knowing my luck I’d have been eaten, all my bear pictures would become priceless due to the notoriety and irony but it would be too late to help pay the rent or buy logs!
So I won’t bore you with too many holiday snaps, just to say it was beautiful and all the things Italy is meant to be. Not a bad reintroduction to holiday making after 23 years. We travelled by train, all the way from Penrith in Cumbria to Desenzano in Italy and then got a free bus ride to Arco (it was late, and in my new baggy pink dress I must have looked like a small tired, rather elderly, pregnant lady so the bus driver took pity… must work on my posture…must eat less pizza.)
Arco is a magical town with a castle on a rock and every lycra clad cyclist, runner, climber and windsurfer in the world rushing about in the heat, doing something extreme. I soon discovered the best thing to do was send Rupert off to do things on rocks while I sat in the Arboretum with my new friends the turtles; while the huge green dragonflies flew figures of eight around me catching mosquitos ( I am a magnet for mosquitos and for the entire two weeks I looked and felt as though I had chicken pox).
So here are some highlights… swimming in Lake Garda, discovering you can get cappuccino half way up mountains, managing to climb a small limestone thing and not cry, the paintings on houses, the scent of Osmanthus, a thunder storm in Turin… oh and a French woman with two small and wonderful children, on the train, who drew pictures and played sweetly with no tears or iPads for 6 whole hours. Low points… being eaten alive by insects, being rubbish at speaking Italian, being too scared, hot and itchy to climb/walk more… and a dark haired girl on the train to Verona with slow, fat tears falling silently.
And so we left the lakes and mountains of Italy behind and returned to our own.
While I was away my work had been in two exhibitions and although I was disappointed not to have sold any originals at C-Art at Dalemain, I did sell quite a few cards (enough to cover the cost of printing at least) and all my leaflets had gone which was encouraging. I was told that there had been a lot of interest but that maybe my prices were too high compared to other’s work. I can understand this as my prints are not editions but unique monoprints with time consuming hand stitching; so the price (between £130-£170 for a framed piece) reflects that, and I now know I need to keep the prices consistent with what a gallery would charge including their commission ( between 30-50%), tempting as it is to lower prices in order to sell at exhibitions (something I only realised after working in commercial galleries). So, it looks like I’ll just have to keep fingers crossed for sales at The Great Print Exhibition at Rheged, which runs until November.
The shop at Rheged also has cards and new cushions (with hand embroidery) that Emma from Temporary Measure printed for me as payment for Alpaca sitting. Emma is now almost royalty in the craft/design/illustration world as, during the Top Drawer Trade Show, she got an order from a little place called Harrods. I’m going to have to wear a hat next time I visit and polish my shoes.,, but it couldn’t have happened to a nicer person. Well done Emma and all at Temporary Measure.
And so, upon my return, I packed up a thick cheese sandwich and headed up to the top of Catbells to lie on my back in the September sunshine to watch the combed out clouds, almost dizzy with the love of the place and the soft colours of the late summer fells and the smell of approaching Autumn.
Reading: “Sky Burial” by Xinran ( I finished “Haweswater” on the train home and Rupert insisted I read this. I’ve finished it in two days and yes, ok, it is amazing Rupert) The book is about Tibet and it was a weird and amazing coincidence to be told by my landlord that the Dalai Lama once visited this place and blessed the garden.