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marcia selsor's italy workshop

updated sat 3 nov 01


Dwiggins, Sandra (NCI) on fri 2 nov 01

If you can do've got to go to Italy with Marcia!
This was a spectacular EVENT..not just a workshop! Not only did we learn a
fantastic amount about how to make architectural ceramics, but it was a
wonderful introduction to Italy itself!

If we weren't working in the studio, which is available 24 hours a day, we
were out touring in the Tuscan hills and the cities that are part of the
vocabulary of anyone who has studied art history...Sienna, Florence, Pisa,
San Gimigiano, Volterra, San Galgano...and then there are the little extras
like the 8th century columns standing in the courtyard of this small Tuscan
village that we visited one evening just as the sun was setting. We could
look at the columns and then go into the studio the next day, and use the
ideas for the pieces we were working on. Great symbiosis with the whole

And then there was the visit to the Tarot Garden, a huge sculpture park of
gigantic fanciful figures based on the Tarot Deck. All the figures are
covered in mosaics of clay and glass, all of which are fit on to a frame
work of some kind of cement. The mechanics of the construction and the
variations of the clay tiles are beyond anything you can imagine. The
garden is the work of Niki de St. Phalle, the wife of Yves Tanguy--also a
sculptor. This was on the first Sunday after we had just arrived at La
Meridiana. We toured the entire day and raced for a view of the Tuscan
sunset, but wound up eating gelato at a lovely waterside village when we
realized we were too late for the sunset.

And then...the FOOD! and then the PEOPLE! Pietro Maddelena and his wife
Giuliana are superb hosts. It's Pietro's school and studio that we used for
the workshop...Well equipped and huge...the very thing for building large
pieces. And, there was the beautiful weather and the gentle Tuscan sun to
help dry our slabs before construction. Pietro is able to get a gem of a
cook to do the meals for the group. This woman, Christina, is a genius. She
cooked 10 meals for us, 20 dishes, not one was the same...and she didn't use
one's all in her hands, head and heart. The seasonings, the
textures... yum.... Pietro did his best to make sure that everything went
smoothly and we had everything we needed. He wanted to take us
everywhere...but unfortunately, we had to work, too!

I'm sure Marcia will put some pictures of our happy band of stalwart
claypeople who were brave enough to go to Italy despite the travel warning
about Italy put out by the State Department the week before our departure.
I hope she puts up the one with all the empty wine bottles standing along
the side of the terrace. That was another great part of this event...the
wine and the limoncello, and the grappa.....

What a fantastic experience...Thanks, Marcia...and Pietro...
Sandy Dwiggins