Having been very kindly offered the opportunity to spend some time at the Opificio Della Rosa Print Studio by Umberto Giovannini, director and founder of the studio, both myself and Wendy were able to take Umberto up on his offer in late June when we spent five fantastic and very inspiring days there. As well as running and working in the studio, Umberto, amongst other things runs relief printing projects with FAD here at CSM.
Amazingly, dramatically and quite possibly uniquely, the print studio is situated within a 14th century castle. The castle overlooks the village and surrounding countryside of Motefiore in the Emillia Romagna region of Nortern Italy.
The thick, medieval stone walls of the studio along with the peace and quiet of the castle create a space and atmosphere of sepulchral, almost monastic calm that very much focus’s the mind. The downside to this is that the time seems to pass far too quickly!
The daily routine was pretty much up early for a stroll around the village taking photo’s, a bit of bread, olive oil and cheese then down to the café for a couple of strong expresso’s then up to the castle for a day of printing, or at least until middayish when it was back to the café/bar for a beer or two then back up to the studio.
I remember working a bit later than usual one evening and having to lock up the studio and castle gates in the dark which was pretty spooky especially for some one of a nervous disposition…..
As I would only have a short, (too short), time in the studio I had cut some small blocks at CSM based on an ongoing series of multiple exposure photo’s I’d been taking. I wasn’t expecting to end up with a finished body of work by any means, but wanted to be able to experiment with and develope them as a potential basis for a new set of larger scale woodcuts. The idea was to concentrate on printing the blocks in different order and colour combinations and just see what happened. I was also trying out the idea of incorporating blocks I’d simply drilled into to add extra layers to the prints. Working in a new studio I felt it was important to start some new work and to work in a way I hadn’t done before. In my work I usually build up the image/print from a single block, cutting it reductively during printing rather than working with multiple blocks. I was hoping this different approach would give me the scope for experimentation without having to actually spend time cutting blocks whilst there.
I also made a quick print of a scorpion…I’d never seen one before, their only small but a scorpion’s a scorpion! We also saw plenty of lizards, a few snakes and fire flies and one evening some wild boar near the castle…
Here’s the link to the studio…
Wood blocks for Multiple Exposure series.
Wendy Chapple. Monoprint Studies. 20 x 29cm.