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Oltarno Gaze 2022 Programme: Today's talents take cues from historic women artists

Until June 16, the Oltrarno Gaze 2022 exhibition and events series is a dialogue through the centuries that forges a bridge between modern-day art and artisanship, and art by historic women, with emphasis on Florence's Oltrarno district.

Florence welcomes this multi-disciplinary cultural programme, organised by the British Institute of Florence and Il Palmerino Cultural Association, with a grant from the Advancing Women Artists Legacy Fund. The multi-faceted programme foresees three art exhibitions, three grant programmes/workshops, three 'invitations' to local and international artisans, writers and photographers to produce original creations, and three cultural walkabouts. Throughout the spring, 14 women photographers and video makers will capture the creative process of the 45 artists, artisans and photographers forming the backbone of the Oltrarno Gaze 2022, via a short video documentary, a multi-exhibition catalogue (The Florentine Press, 2022), and a spoken word performance.

"The project's aim is to provide an opportunity to bring modern-day artisanship in Florence's historic artisan quarter into focus, and to create a platform for the exhibition of works by emerging and established artists" says Linda Falcone, the project's coordinator. "Specifically, Oltrarno Gaze 2022 strives to document and promote the creative contributions of women, rediscovering historic relationships and forging new ones."

Media and communication

Calliope Arts / Restoration Conversations

The Florentine

With the patronage of

Consulate of the United States of America in Florence

In collaboration with 'Sotto al British' at the British Institute of Florence, Gruppo Fotografico Il Cupolone APS, 'Creative People in Florence', Freya's Florence, Amalia Ciardi Duprè Museum, Atelier degli Artigianelli and Spazio NOTA with Osservatorio Mestieri d'Arte



A call to writers

Until April 30

Writers' submissions open

History belongs to those whose stories are told. Writers in Florence and farther afield are invited to send their submissions – stories, poems, reflections and sketches – as a tribute to women artists they admire, past and present. A selection will be published in the Oltrarno Gaze 2022 catalogue (The Florentine Press) and become part of a 'wearable' story-based sculpture stitched together, literally and symbolically, by Florence-based Australian performance artist and writer Marisa Garreffa. Submissions of any length will form the backbone of a spoken-word performance debuting on opening and closing nights of the BRIDGES book art exhibition at Il Palmerino Cultural Association in Florence (May 5 and June 5), in which 10 contemporary women artists from all over the world respond to their historic counterparts. For more details or to send submissions:


Painters Sam Bordley, Lydia Chapman and Emily Rogers

Until April 22

Thursdays to Sundays or by appointment, 3pm to 6.30pm

La Colonica del Palmerino, Via del Palmerino 6

For the first time, three emergent painters, trained at Charles H. Cecil Studios, an art atelier in the heart of the Oltrarno, will exhibit portraits of friends and neighbours from the district. Their works, created using the 'sight-size' method (a live portrait technique with lots of walking involved) will be displayed alongside female portraits by Violante Siries Cerroti (1709-1783) and Federigo Angeli's 1930s copy of an Uffizi self-portrait by Angelica Kauffman (1741-1807). The sight-size method was first used by Titian and the Baroque masters, but the technique maintained its popularity with the British school of the late eighteenth century and was practised well into the nineteenth century. In the 1900s, with the Boston School, John Singer Sargent would become a top exponent, and he is said to have worn a path in his carpet, due to the incessant pacing needed to execute the technique. Admission free. Reservations required to join aperitif on the final evening (April 22):


Artemisia Gentileschi and her story

21 March - March 25

Atelier degli Artigianelli, Via dei Serragli 104

This student grant programme involves a series of hands-on workshops for four young creatives from Cooperativa Il Girasole, a social co-op in the Oltrarno district. Inspired by snippets of Artemisia Gentileschi's letters, artist and poet Massimo Lippi will guide awardees in the creation of a hand-bound libro d'artista featuring watercolour and Tuscan-earth pigment illustrations. The book's cotton-pulp paper will be made entirely by hand at the Piccola Cartiera degli Artigianelli, via a traditional processing method and manual gluing, where Arno river-water is used as a binder. Its cover page will be decorated with Siminagash, Japanese for 'floating ink', an age-old art form. Participants learn book-binding, based on the Florentine tradition with Omero Benvenuti (Oltrarno book binder since 1967). Student creations will form part of Cooperativa Il Girasole's installation at the BRIDGES book art exhibition at Il Palmerino from May 5 to June 5 (afternoons on Thursdays to Sundays or by appointment) in which 10 international contemporary women artists respond to their historic counterparts.


Reportage by 13 women photographers

Until May 23

Everywhere the project takes us

Thirteen women photographers, from the award-winning Florence-based photography association Gruppo Fotografico Il Cupolone APS, have been tasked with immortalising the 2022 'Oltrarno Gaze' programme, from its hands-on highlights to its exhibition openings. This all-Florentine team, curated by S. Sabatini, aims to document the creative process driving individual project participants, to form a single, multi-faceted photo-catalogue and exhibition, opening June 9 to June 16 at Sotto al British (Lungarno Giucciardini 115). Participating photographers: V. Parretti, A. Barucchieri, V. Bellini, C. Carmen Cardellicchio, L. Cervaroli, M.G. Dainelli, C. Franchi, E. Fossi, M.L. Fineschi, D. Giampà, D. Piazza, I. Pini and A. Tomassi. Because the Oltrarno Gaze 2022 programme is heavily focused on the creative process, participating photographers will hone in on the ins-and-outs of what makes the Oltrarno district unique, as it focuses on the many personalities that continue to make its traditions dynamic, for locals and international folk alike.


Springtime walks at Il Palmerino

26/27 March and 2/3 April

3pm and 5pm

La Colonica del Palmerino, Via del Palmerino 10

Art historian Monica Shenouda shares the history of a house that has hosted artists since its construction in 1400. Explore the 'English Colony' connection on the estate that was home to British writer Vernon Lee; from the turn of the last century until 1935, Il Palmerino's international literary salons hosted the likes of Oscar Wilde, Virginia Woolf, Henry James, John Singer Sargent and many more. The tour will conclude with a viewing of the exhibition 'Portrait Dialogues' where adoptive Oltrarno artists S. Bordley, E. Rogers and L. Chapman stand in conversation with female painters of the past. Guided tours last 1.5 hours circa, in Italian and/or English. Admission 10 euro, light snack included. Maximum 15 people per group. Reservations required


Virtual visit to three bottegas

21 April

Event e-streamed curated by 'Creative People in Florence', 6pm

International artisans share their take on the neighbourhood's age-old practices and modern-day flair. 'Creative People in Florence' founders Sara Amrhein and Anna Rose will lead this 3-pronged virtual studio visit. Tucked inside a medieval tower-building, just off the Ponte Vecchio, we'll find Joy Franklin's jewellery studio, 'A Thousand Joys'. The artisan's love of historic ornament and ancient cultures gives rise to contemporary pieces in gold, silver and precious stones. Italian-Canadian artisan Erin Ciulla will discuss traditional bookbinding tools and techniques, and tell the story of how she became owner of the historic workshop, Il Torchio. From the Oltrarno, we'll move to the Tuscan countryside and the private studio of Scottish potter Kirstie Mathieson, specialised in wheel work and slabbing techniques. For information:


Handmade paper workshop

April 30

10am to 12pm

SOTTO al British, Lungarno Guicciardini 115

A Saturday-morning hands-on introductory workshop, curated by 'Creative People in Florence', on the art of paper-making, using recycled paper, natural materials and dried flower details, with Oltrarno-based artisan Gigi Echevarria, from Gigetta Floral Slow Paper Studio. The focus? How to process materials to create interesting natural textures so that participants can start paper-making at home with artisanal techniques. Admission: 15 euro, materials included. To participate:


Historic women artists inspire modern-day making

Until April 30

Workshops in the Oltrarno

Curated by 'Creative People in Florence'

How will artisans of the present respond to female artists of the past? International female-run workshops will draw inspiration from the paintings and personalities of art history's female greats to design and create an original work. Florence-based Russian video-maker Olga Makarova is set to capture artisans' creative process in a documentary-short premiering on June 9, along with the pieces themselves at 'Sotto al British', a newly formed space for contemporary creativity. Artisans facing the 'challenge': Book binder Erin Ciulla, jewellery artisans Margherita de Martino Norante and Joy Franklin, leather artisan Stephanie Lehmann and potter Kirstie Mathieson.


Contemporary women artists and their historic counterparts

From May 5 to June 5

Thursdays to Sundays or by appointment, 3pm to 6.30pm

La Colonica del Palmerino, Via Il Palmerino 6

From emergent Florentine painter Guenda Nocentini, to Venice Biennale veteran Silvia Fossati, painters, sculptors and poets from Florence and abroad create book art installations in response to women artists of the past. Whimsical French painter Virginie Houdet responds to Violante Siries Cerroti's (1709-1783) eye for fashion and finery. Sculptor Mimma Di Stefano stands in conversation her Etruscan-inspired maestro Amalia Ciardi Duprè (b. 1934). For British-Greek artist Rea Stavropoulos, the 'Female Gaze meets the Oltrarno Gaze' with a book-art installation inspired by four women from the 16th to the 20th centuries with a relationship with Florence and the Uffizi. The starting point for US book artist Lyall Harris and Brazil-born, Florence-based Patricia Silva will be the multi-decade correspondence of twentieth-century painters Fillide Levasti (1883-1966) and Leonetta Cecchi (1882-1977) at Florence's Gabinetto Vieusseux and the Marucellana Library. Cecchi, a writer as well as an artist, will also inspire the installation of Florentine artist-architect Elena Barthel.

At 6.30 pm, on May 5 and June 5, expect 'Stitching artists into history' a spoken-word performance by Marisa Garreffa at Il Palmerino's small amphitheatre, based on the call for writers' submissions (details above). Admission free. Please reserve to attend performance:


Culture and nature hike

May 8

Meeting time 3pm

Sotto al British, Lungarno Guicciardini 115

This Sunday afternoon trek begins at 'Sotto al British' with a viewing of works from Vernon Lee's library at the British Institute of Florence, before departing for Il Palmerino, Vernon Lee's hillside home, which she transformed into a salon for early 20th-century intellectuals. This tour is led by Freya's Florence, with stops along the way, including an exclusive opening of the Amalia Ciardi Duprè Museum on Via degli Artisti. In this evocative venue, explore the life's work of Tuscan sculptor Amalia Ciardi Duprè, with host art historian Rita Tambone. This three-hour event ends with a light celebratory snack. Admission: 15 euro, max 15 participants. English-Italian combo. To participate:

May 16 to 25

Spazio NOTA, via dei Serragli 104


From macramé to pouring, artisanal fabric decoration techniques

This grant programme, open to applicants from the general public, is curated by Camilla Di Biagio, and inspired by 20th-century painter and pattern-maker Vittoria Morelli (1896-1931). It foresees a 40-hour hands-on workshop on decorating and manipulating fabrics at Spazio NOTA, a centre for fashion designers and pattern-makers supported by Fondazione CR Firenze and managed by Associazione Osservatorio dei Mestieri d’Arte. Course themes: Ancient artisan techniques for the manipulation of fabrics and materials through prints, macramé, ecological dying and patchwork effects. Grant foresees the participation of five guest artisans: Elif Malkoclar, Duccio Mazzanti, Camilla Di Biagio, Luca Parenti and Stefania Pelliccia.


Pop-up exhibition, premiere and book launch

June 9 to 16

Sotto al British, Lungarno Guicciardini 115

In collaboration with Gruppo Fotografico Il Cupolone APS

Photographs authored by 13 women photographers from the 'Camera Captures' project will be on show, spotlighting the Oltrarno Gaze 2022. It includes the premiere viewing of craftsmanship created for 'International Artists Answer' challenge, inspired by art by women, plus a fabrics-and-textiles installation by Spazio NOTA's grant programme participants and ceramics by Poiret Masse, inspired by twentieth-century artist Vittoria Morelli. Expect the screening of 'International Artists Answer' documentary short by Olga Makarova and the launch of the freshly printed Oltrarno Gaze 2022 catalogue from The Florentine Press. For more info:

See the programme brochure:

Oltrarno Gaze Complete Programme 2022
Download • 10.49MB


Participating video makers and photographers: Olga Makarova, Simone Sabatini, Viola Parretti, Alessandra Barucchieri, Valentina Bellini, Cinzia Carmen Cardellicchio, Laura Cervaroli, Maria Grazia Dainelli, Cecilia Franchi, Elisa Fossi, Maria Laura Fineschi, Daniela Giampà, Donatella Piazza, Irene Pini and Antonella Tomassi

Participating artists Elena Barthel, Samuel Leutze Bordley, Amalia Ciardi Duprè, Lydia Chapman, Mimma Di Stefano, Silvia Fossati, Lyall Harris, Virginie Houdet, Marisa Garreffa, Massimo Lippi, Guenda Nocentini, Emily Rogers, Patricia Silva and Rea Stavropoulos

Participating artisans Omero Benvenuti, Beatrice Cuniberti, Camilla Di Biagio, Erin Ciulla, Gigi Echevarria, Joy Franklin, Antonella Ielpo, Elif Malkoclar, Poiret Masse, Duccio Mazzanti, Margherita de Martino Norante, Luca Parenti, Stefania Pelliccia, Stephanie Lehmann and Kirstie Mathieson

Graphics Silvia Farolfi, Fiona Richards

Translator Giulia Sadun

Guides, hosts and historians Freya Middleton, Monica Shenouda, Rita Tambone

Oltrarno Gaze Catalogue published by The Florentine Press (June, 2022)

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