Ah, it's good to be home. It was good to go away, of course, and a part of me still wishes I was in Florence, but a part of me was ready to come back. There was a moment, walking around after dinner one night, when we walked past an alterations shop and there was a woman working away at the sewing machine, illuminated only by the light on her table - and I thought, "oh, I'm so glad that I have that to return to." Not just a job, but this store which I am so proud of being a part of. And I think about all the people who don't have jobs, and how much that gives me a sense of purpose and meaning and structure, how lucky I feel... which is the perfect feeling to carry with me as I return from vacation, relaxation and general getting-away from the petty complaints from behind the cash register (which might be the title of a book that I write someday).
So, hmm... what of the trip is pertinent to this blog and this store? Probably the most pertinent thing is the travel journal but that is still a work in progress and will require another blog post once I've figured out which pictures to print. Besides the travel journal, other projects that will spin off the trip will surely be a Blurb book, which, I think, will be the best way to handle the 1300+ photos that I took in 10 days. Probably also snippets, as well as some new squares of blue sky to add to the snippets of blue sky collection... which I REALLY need to get to work on. There's someone out there who is very disappointed that we don't have one in store every time she stops in.
There are a few photos that stand on their own; perhaps I will have some matted prints for the shop. And then there's the whole matter of collage inspiration - who knows what will happen with those images as elements.
(In addition to who knows what else,) creative inspiration will be drawn from:
An exquisite felted art exhibit in Paris.
Views out of airplane windows.
As a former geology student, the view of the landscape from so far above reminds me of the patterns and histories studied in class so there's a sense of nostalgia, as well as an aesthetic appreciation of the patterns of nature and humankind upon the earth.
Lovely doors and windows from Paris to Biot to to Cinque Terre to Genoa to Florence.
The grandeur of 16th century buildings. Not to diminish the accomplishments of our time, and I'm certainly happy to be living in the age that I am, but as I was walking in Genoa, I was particularly struck by the feeling - what, four centuries from now, will people be marveling at from our present day? The villas, the chateaus, the cathedrals all seem such a thing of the past. We marvel at the craftsmanship, the attention to details, the time and effort. What will be our legacy to the future?
The charm of little French and Italian villages. Every corner I turned, I would exclaim, "oh, how charming!" and snap a picture. Does it get tiring to live in such a location or do you just stop seeing the charm?
The view from the balcony. In France, we stayed in a lovely B&B in Biot. Our room had a balcony looking out over the rooftops... and you could even see a little sliver of the Mediterranean. It was so wonderful to have that space to come back to - to take a little rest from walking and touring and yet still experience the charm of the south of France. That balcony made the trip a truly relaxing vacation and not one of those ones where you have to come home and take some time off to recuperate.
Fashion on the street. Including a total Bill Cunningham moment as I chased down the Asian tourist wearing the fabulously striped socks and skirt.
And, yes, I was glad I brought my red shoes.
Shop windows & shopping. Or, perhaps more precisely, window-shopping. When traveling, there is always the challenge of balancing what one wants to bring home with what one has space for. Biot, as I knew in advance, is known for its glasswork, and there were many lovely colors and shapes of glasses which I would have brought home for Christmas presents, if I hadn't had to still carry them through another country. And with only one day in Florence, we pretty much confined ourselves to the beaten track, which has a huge array of designer names to offer, most of which are so beyond my budget that I didn't dare step past the doorway.
To some extent, I was a little disappointed. There wasn't a lot of time to really hunt out some stores, but I would have loved to find a French or Italian version of Anthology - paper products, local artisans and craft works. I would have loved to see what French and Italian people are doing in the DIY realm. There was one little shop in Porto Venere, where the woman was making jewelry as we walked in. She had some very unique pieces and I was inspired (for my own creating, and to stock up on some presents - so you can't see them until Sachi's opened her Christmas presents).
My other disappointment is not reserved for this trip. Overall lately I've been feeling like there's some level of aesthetic which is missing in store merchandising. I realize there are many other tasks involved in retail and that window displays sometimes seem like a low priority, but is seems there could be some improvements in the ways that products are displayed (not that I'm claiming to be perfect). Which isn't to say that there weren't some lovely sights to be seen.
Strolling on the beach. Another relaxing vacation moment from the trip, which also yieled a new collection (see below) and perhaps some other new projects.
Other elements of being near the sea. (Namely boats).
The Mediterranean! I know, I romanticize it, but every time I am there, I am caught up in the history and nostalgia - to imagine how long humankind has been washing up on its shores. We were there a little late in the season but had a few days with that intense shade of aqua-blue-green that I can't quite put my finger on. I should have packed my paint chip fan but didn't have space... though doesn't that seem like it would be a fun travel journal component? Paint chip colors found on travels? Hmm. I have to go back!
Since it was late in the season, many boats had already been taken out of the water. That was a little disappointing - I mean, pretty much all the pictures of Cinque Terre have charming colorful boats in the water. Thankfully in Monterosso they had striped boat covers so I got at least a few shots of stripes at the Mediterranean. The shots I missed were the rows of striped umbrellas, also folded up for the season. Still, I don't really care for traveling when it is hot so I was happy with the timing of our trip.
The work of other artists and craftspeople. I have to confess that I'm not really a museum person. I really just like to BE in a place, to walk around and look at buildings and people and scenery. So my experience of art is more as I stumble across it - murals and sculptures, displays in gallery windows, stonework on buildings. I particularly enjoyed the mosaic in the tunnel at Riomaggiore - it had lots of interesting textures and tiles, not just standard mosaic tiles, but also pieces and slices of rocks, which appealed to the geology major.
I love the hands on this mural. They are supposed to be repairing a fishing net, but of course, I see hands working on a craft project.
Writing daily in a journal. by hand. More on that in another post.
Other peoples' collections & thoughts of new collections. If there's a new collection that I returned home with, it is photographs of rocks. The beach at Monterosso was so amazing. I could have taken home every single black and white rock. However, it IS a national park and I have also been thinking a lot lately about the stuff that we all have in our lives. Well, I'm just transferring three-dimensional stuff into two-dimensional photographs but thanks to Blurb, I can fit a lot more photographs into a space than actual rocks. Naturally I already have regrets - Dad asked me if I had taken that circle rock home, but no, it's still there on the beach even though such a rock is very rare, at least in my experience. Ah well. At least I have the picture. To some extent - and this betrays the level of my collector nature - picking up a few rocks on the beach isn't even enough for me. I love quantity. And so it really makes more sense to have 100 pictures of rocks than one rock.
Is this a European thing? I had heard there is a bridge in Paris where couples go. They place a padlock there and throw away the key, a symbol of their love and togetherness. I've never been to that bridge and thought the custom was reserved for Paris, but it popped up along Via Dell'Amore in Italy. First there were padlocks at the entryway, but they appeared along the entire path in random spots.
The Museum of Culinary Arts had a collection of menus, which was so wonderful, including this cover which shows (I assume) France herself bringing Capital and Labour together for a dance. And don't they both look cheerful?
Reflections. I tend to look directly at a subject and find reflections more annoyance than anything else, as they regularly get in the way of the picture of a window display at the shop. However, in Paris and Italy, the reflections are often just as appealing as the initial subject itself.
and yes, there was a definite chandelier theme
Well, it's pretty much always about colors for me. It's the way that I think about almost everything from the books on my shelves to the product in the store. I don't know if it is just my imagination or the hype of the Mediterranean, but it does seem like there's a particular quality to the light there which is unique. Though it might just be tinged by the feeling of being on vacation.
Patterns and shapes. Yes, I'm quite pleased with myself for this picture, taken in Genoa. I had to wait a bit for the Indian tourist to walk into the frame but I really love that splash of color against the geometry of the two buildings.
My artistic life is mostly occupied with color, though travel (particularly in cities) always makes me pay attention to patterns in architecture.
Since I took that Valley Ridge workshop with Michelle Ward this summer, I'm also more aware of shapes (in the workshop, we looked to nature for inspiration for stencils and patterns). As a result, there are several photographs that were mostly about capturing a sense of shape or pattern for future use.
More doors and windows. All right, I love doors and windows. As I review my pictures, one is starting to look much like another. There are a lot of door and window shots.
and ceilings in Genoa. I have to confess that I hadn't done much research about our destinations. I did some work early on to figure out the general vicinity but I also feel like too much knowledge just means that you realize what you miss out on... because there's always something that you will miss. Anyway, I hadn't done much reading at all for Genoa and it turned out that our hotel was just around the corner from a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Via Garibaldi. On the night we arrived, we walked there without knowing what to expect - and I think the experience was certainly enhanced by the lack of expectation. Amazing buildings and lovely spaces that made one think of glamorous past lives and ballroom dancing.
And the sky, always the sky. Which I'm often looking at and taking pictures of for the purpose of snippets, and just because I like the color blue. Anyway, my grad school advisor would be disappointed if I didn't end with a sunset.