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Residency in Collemacchia : Orientation + Carnet de Voyage

Filignano seen from the top of Filignano Vecchio locating the road entering Filignano from Venafro 190619

Filignano Vecchio Morning 250618

Since leaving Scotland destined for Italy on this two week residency with The Museum of Loss and Renewal just over one week ago, I have done a lot of drawing. Most prolifically in two A5 sized sketchbooks that are very easy to carry whilst walking and a number of larger format and more detailed pencil drawings. I want to talk specifically to the sketches here though and my carnet-de-voyage style technique of finding my bearings in a landscape. By bearings I’m talking not just about compass bearings but also emotional bearings, psychological mapping if you will, or psychogeography much in the style of Guy Debord and the Situationist International technique of the dérive. Instinctual wandering, recorded in my case through sketching.

Pineta drawn from the metal road barrier on the decending road between Collemacchia and Filignano the entrance to the walk up through to Filignano Vecchio 220618

The first landmark I noticed when entering Collemacchia by car from Venafro with Tracy Mackenna was a pine forest called the Pineta. It stood out to me because of the way the light was hitting the structure of the trees. It had a luminous presence amongst the character of the surrounding mountains.

Filignano Vecchio and the Pineta seen from the Track at the back of Collemacchia heading up to the Tholos 170618Fillignano Vecchio and Filignano noting the structure and character of the landscape 180618

On top of the Pineta is what I began to affectionately call the ‘Baldy-Patch.’ This is because it does look like the head of an old granddad, unruly yet commanding. It turns out that this area at the top is the ruins of an ancient Samnite settlement ‘Filignano Vecchio', which now watches over the hamlets below, including the ‘new’ Filignano.  I have been walking on average 3 hours per day here in Collemacchia, all the while orientating myself via the Baldy Patch. It has become my inner true north of this landscape as it can be seen from most places due to its elevation, central location and character. 

Filignano Vecchio watching over the New Filignano separated by the edge of the Pineta 180618Pineta and Devotion Collemacchia 180618

Speaking of characters, the trees on the top of the baldy patch remind me of those ‘my family’ stickers on the backs of car windscreens that indicate the composition of the family structure. After walking around this landscape on the first day with Tracy as my guide, we finally made it up to this location as the last stop. The feeling and character of the plant life up there gave me a real sense of the sacred nature of the site. Emotionally it felt like a resting place, guarded or watched over by wild human scaled flowers (which I don’t yet know the name of). I’ve been calling these flowers the ‘Ancestors’ as their presence really does both delight and demand respect.

Baldy Patch Foreboding 180618

After initially feeling very welcome in this enchanting and sacred resting place, I returned the following day alone to do some drawing studies of the ancestors. This time however felt a true sense of foreboding. As if I had stumbled into a private ceremony uninvited. The flowers were all staring at me with their bright yellow eyes and demanding in unison, what my intentions were. I must admit I was a bit intimidated. I did a quick slightly anxious sketch of them then promptly made my way down the hill, determined to process this feeling and return the following day in a calmer state of mind. This time not expecting to be immediately welcomed, yet with a plan to introduce myself slowly and allow the place time to accept my presence. This might sound a little strange to you (the reader) and I assure you, I have questioned in the last week whether I might be on the verge of losing my mind at times. Although this soft approach of allowing this wilderness time to know me by first gently introducing myself has yielded so many beautiful and positive encounters with not only the landscape but with humans and objects alike. This mindset has really opened up possibilities for creative expansion and play.

Filignano Vecchio: Golden reveries and emotional alchemy 250618

This drawing from early yesterday morning titled Filignano Vecchio: Golden reveries and emotional alchemy is the kind of drawing done in a landscape that is becoming well known, loved and respected by me and in turn is accepting my presence as a visitor. I am here in Collemacchia for a remaining 4 and a half days and will continue to consolidate my process here so that you can share in this incredible experience. If you would like to learn more about this residency program and the wonderful roaming art practice of Tracy Mackenna and Edwin Janssen of The Museum of Loss and Renewal, you can find them at www.tmolar.org.

***By the way it MUST be said that I have now spent 10 days pretty much alone in the mountains here in central Italy... so if you think that I am speaking absolute bollocks or would like me to talk more to any specific things/ ideas/ experiences I'm mentioning here then please do let me know. Any questions, resources, knowledge, expertise, debate, comments or concerns for my mental health would be very welcome!! After all, I have time (plenty of it) and would be grateful for the interaction...after I return from my morning walk. Em xxx

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