An Exciting Adventure by Sue Moran

From Fan Newsletter Summer 2007

Last fall I decided to find a way to get to Italy and work on an idea I’d been developing for some time. I have been studying Italian for 3 years and on a previous trip to Florence, Venice, and Tuscany I had become fascinated with the way ancient art pervades life in the towns I visited. I drew a parallel between the layers of paint on the ancient walls and shutters of Venice, and the layers of dye and overdye on fabric. I found similarities between decorative ornamentation on architecture and textiles, and my own approach to integrating pattern and image in collage constructions.

I was reading the original text of Pinocchio, which is a long, moralistic, entertaining, but sometimes somber fairytale set in Italy. I decided to plan a series of textiles that would deal in some way with the Pinocchio story, but combine the decorative inspirations I was starting to draw from Italy.

I applied for a grant from the Surface Design Association. This national organization funds personal development grants for its members. The guidelines are posted on the website, and are fairly specific. Clarity of writing and strict adherence to proposal guidelines are paramount. I sent my draft proposal out for proofreading to several people I knew to be good writers, some of whom had received arts grants themselves.

Writing the proposal was a wonderful way for me to clarify what I wanted to do, especially since my concept was rather complicated. I was thrilled to be one of the three people chosen for an award. We all received partial funding, but one of the grant specifications was to state how we would cope with partial funding of our projects. I cut down on the time and scope of my trip, and was also able to stay with a friend in Florence.

My trip began in Florence, where I visited the Fondazione Lisio Arte della Seta, a study center where weavers reproduce original patterns of Renaissance velvets and brocades on ancient looms. The Fondazione makes textiles for the Church, museums, and occasionally for fashion designers to use in couture items. I also visited the Museo di Tessuti in Prato, which is a well-laid out textile museum with historic and of Florence where Carlo Lorenzini, the author of Pinocchio, was born.

There is a wonderful Pinocchio amusement park and landscaped sculpture garden, as well as a piazza surrounded by mosaic-covered walls illustrating scenes from the life of Pinocchio.

In addition, there is a grand formal garden belonging to the 18th century Villa Garzoni, where Lorenzini’s father worked as a cook. The town itself has an old section that climbs up a mountainside. The streets are only about 10 ft. wide and made of cobblestones, so the inhabitants must park at the bottom of the old section of town and walk up.

From Collodi I traveled to Lucca, a walled city. Here I saw lovely churches replete with ornate carving and frescoed detailing. Lucca was the center of fine textile production in the 14 Century. I took many photographs at all of these stops, and plan to incorporate pattern elements, images, and colors from this trip, as well as the overall spirit of the Pinocchio story, into the panels I will soon begin.

An Exciting Adventure by Sue Moran

The garden of the villa garzoni is in the town of Collodi.
Carlo Lorenzini’s father worked there in the kitchens.
The mosaics from the Giardino di Pinocchio.
This illustrates a scene in the Osteria Gambero Rosso.
The ancient hill town of Collodi,
where Carlo Lorenzini was born.