Spring in Tuscany

Lime green bursting from their buds.  Every day out in the garden, hard to stay indoors where the shadows are still cold and the massive stone walls still breath out the damp.  As the sun hits our patch of earth we dart in and out of the studio, loathe to miss its seductive warmth.  But sometimes we forget.  It’s when the music is playing in our space and we are caught in that other world where you are creating almost in suspense, deeply peaceful and yet also emotionally heightened. It’s a beautiful place to be and just as perfect as basking in the sun.

Shona in her studio
Blossom on the old mulo track to Pieve dei Monti di Villa

We have been staying up in our mountain house and coming down to our studios in the valley each day.  It’s lovely to be up here in the silence of the night and awake with the first birds before light.  Driving each day, down through the mountains with all the blossoms changing the grey winter land into white and pink, the terraces textured and furry, we pass people industrious everywhere, doing their last pruning, tying and cleaning and whipper-snipper-ing.  The woodcutters have been particularly voracious this year and lots of the roadside views are cleared with devastating drops into the endlessly deep valleys below.

A local farmer's grape vines, he doesn't know what type of grape they are, they just make good wine.

Michael has been drawing and sculpting and drawing again.  He is captured by the delights of Spring, blossom, fertility, playful and joyous, lovers.  He is working towards a show of his work at Deem in Hollywood Rd, Hong Kong.  Part of the exhibition is retrospective, so, pensively he has scoured through years of old paintings and drawings and prints and sculptures, an eclectic language of man and nature in and out of balance with each other, often on the edge, sometimes beautiful and sometimes tough.  Our studios are opposite an old paper factory that puffs and steams and grumbles and occasionally lets out an obscene stain into the water, more awful because the water is normally a deep turquoise and pristine green.  Mike’s older paintings tell the story of factories and their oddly spectacular scouring of nature, yet here, living and working opposite one, he can only paint the racing water and its curling patterns, forgetting a harsher environment that still exists, for a sensuous one that reminds him of how delicious it is to be a human being in Italy where all the pleasures of life are sacred and observed every day.

In a corner of Mike's studio

We feel so happy to be here.  Many times a curious Italian will ask us why we are here when we come from Australia where they would prefer to be.  Our parents ask us the same thing.  Maybe because we are artists, we are attracted to the extraordinary beauty and culture and history that is here.  But mostly we love the connection to living here amongst these feisty people who demand their freedom to live the way they want to live, who observe the rules without obeying them if they don’t believe in them, and who have a marvelous connection to  the earth despite enjoying all the accoutrements of man made things.  This all seems important to a wonderful life when there are countries these days whose major companies are backed by government in genetically modifying seeds to the point that farmers are being sued for nor complying with the ‘new way’. We love it that in Italy most people don’t cook ‘out of season’.  If pumpkin isn’t ‘in’ then there is no pumpkin on the shelves.  It took me a few seasons to appreciate this, used as I was to fruit and veges being imported from around the world, always in season, to the extent I had no idea when what vegetable grew in which season.  Perhaps what it really is for us here, is the cycle of life.  I think Italy has brought us back in touch with ourselves, with the earth and with our own cycle here.  Our friends are young and old and our connectivity to the earth seems paramount in our good health and happiness and our connection to ourselves ‘moving on’.

The road to Pisa


  1. I love being immersed in the new green of spring energy and among the beauty of blossom. There is something very satisfying about living honestly with the changing seasons and eating what is locally produced. One feels much more a part of the land, connected to traditional knowledge and more healthy because of it. Ce’st la vie!

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