I was born and raised in Naples, in a city context that did not provide for the presence of nature, since I was a child I have always carried a sense of unease, which was exacerbated by the noise of the street at night echoing from the windows and sent the smell of asphalt, iron, dust.
Only the smell of the sea, when it was windy, masked this background noise, which vanished in August, when with my brothers I was taken from our father, and moved for a month in the villa built by my grandfather, never known, immersed in the countryside of Frosinate, on the top of the hills of Fiuggi.
The house was surrounded by red brick driveways framed by hydrangeas, silver cedars, and fragrant tujas; there was also a rose garden, which given the season I never had the joy of seeing in bloom, a weeping willow and various other trees, and just outside, on the gravel roads, wild brambles as far as the eye could see. The wind carried the smell of cut grass, mint and sheep, and the late summer thunderstorms filled my heart with a joy I cannot describe.
To those magical months in which I could be fully myself I owe my salvation, physical and mental. The villa was then sold and with it we all lost something; the fragile balance that stood on that place was shattered and my life was scattered into a million pieces, the vast majority of them senseless, feverish, blind and too fast and excited to be governed.
Then there was Rome and the IED, South Tyrol and seasonal work, and then Rome and graphic design work again, and it wasn’t until I was about forty that I finally understood what made me feel at home, serene, happy, at peace with everything: the sea, the mountains, the hills, the wind, the seasons, the beaches, the meadows, the rain, and a possibly disproportionate amount of trees.
That’s why everything I embroider tells of the same subject: the seemingly chaotic nature, sometimes slow, sometimes overwhelming and unsettling, often cruel, always surprising. I’ve learned that the wisest way to live is to throw down the oars and let the river take you, in a childlike state of joy and wonder, as far away as possible from fear and fearfulness, and the resulting control-freaks, aggression, envy and criticism.
Hang out with a few meaningful people, with deep and stable roots, who are happy and love themselves, who are strong and calm like beloved trees. I searched a lot for a photograph of a tree to portray, which is not easy because the most beautiful plants are huge and difficult to portray in a shot, roots, trunk, branches and leaves.
In the end I remembered a very nice children’s book, illustrated by a Polish illustrator named Piotr Socha; there were many beautiful trees, but the one that came closest to what I wanted to portray was the one that only a few days ago, going to read the caption, I discovered to be a thousand-year-old South African baobab tree survived six fires, with a circumference of about forty meters.
My intention would have been to embroider an oak tree, but I always like the idea of letting myself be taken where the energy desires, so in the end it came out a hybrid with trunk from oak/baobab/farnia and leaves from ficus robusta or at the limit from lemon. Lots and lots of leaves, which I’m going over now with the second wire and will go over later with the white one.
Sometimes, in all this slowness, I feel the need to grab a canvas and cover it with oil paint, oil and wax pastels, using whatever tools come my way. One or two hour stuff, finished. The lion and the virgin in me are constantly battling for leadership. Precision alternates with fury, humility with megalomania. Earth and fire, especially now in the summer. Back to work.