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Friday, June 14, 2024

The weather forecast


 

As a kid, I was fascinated by meteorology.

I would catch a tube to the met office, just off Tottenham Court Road and just hang around peering at weather charts and would never miss the evening forecast at five to six.

And so it continues to this day. Currently I'm following the climatic fortunes of a friend who is on holiday in Iceland and warn him when to wear ear muffs when the Arctic air blasts in from the Pole.

Still awake?

OK, now after a balmy, sunny beach time meeting near Pedaso, followed by dinner at a Chalet restaurant with my Art friends, I couldn't help but notice the signs in the sky and sea of a serious change in the weather. This I mentioned to my friends, but they blanked out (I know the look).

And sure enough, the very place where we were sitting was whacked by a tempest the following day, yesterday. The coastline was blanketed with an ice storm and severe damage and and we, further inland, had torrential rain with part of our road washed away.

So, you may ask, why this obsession?

Answer is, I don't know. Closest I can get by explanation, is that nature is in control and I prefer this to the wreckage wrought by human beings. And did you see that photo in this morning's Guardian of a young girl with her head in her hands sitting on the stump of a three hundred year old oak tree, cut down to make way for a new road? A tragedy. No wonder the planet gets angry with us and blasts us in it's fury?

Anyway, the painting above was painted a few days ago and in its simple way is an image of the above mentioned storm. Most of my work now is about weather, forests, rivers etc, and I often foresee things which happen days, sometimes weeks before they occur. I suppose it's being in tune in some mysterious way.

I'm running a couple of art/Nature workshops art/Natureworkshops in early September in the Sibillini mountains here in Le Marche. It's a time when the storms begin, after the heat of August, and they are amazing to experience then rocking the landscape about. 

Be great if you can come along

Michael; micermice@gmail.com


Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Warmer nights for lady fireflies

 


The female fireflies are not visible at night because they are dark in colour, and anyway, it has been too cool for them to emerge from wherever they hide during the day. And so, the males with their flashing lights don't bother to fly out either. But today temperatures will rise to 27C and we can expect a super display and  I'll be out there to to film it, I promise.

And you know, whatever Nature offers us, in the forests, by the rushing streams, watching and listening to birds, and fellow creatures; breathing the air swept down from mountain peaks, it is she who lifts us to that state of absorption where our art and creativity become inevitable.

And we become one with nature, because at our most human, this is what we must truly aspire to.

My Art and Nature workshops in the Sibillini National Park in Italy recommence in September, and you can find out more and how to book a place, on my website below or email me at micermice@gmail.com

www.michaeleldridgestudio.com

Wednesday, May 8, 2024

The fireflies are returning!

 



I was working late in my studio yesterday evening and it was dark when I got home and walked to open the front door. At this moment there was a bright flash in front of me and I took it to be from a car driving on a hill above the house. But the flashing light whizzed over my head and I knew it was a first arrival welcoming me to a month of wonder. Yes, the fireflies have arrived, and day by day now they will multiply in number and we will all be in the thrall of their magic, taken away and invited to dance with them and be enriched by this powerful connection with nature.They are like little silent messengers, becoming us, beseeching us, to return to the garden of Life

And all those precious memories come flooding back of the years I have lived in Italy; always in the countryside, in the clean air of the Adriatic where I live now, or in the mountains of the Sibillini Park, where I spent many years.

Memories of walking with friends and with my animals through woods and forests, seeing the reflection of their lights in the dark eyes of my dog Bessie as she is jumped amongst them barking with happiness.

Tonight when I am home I will venture out to the bottom of the garden where they gather and dance about, and I will attempt to photograph or video their performance an add it to this blog

If you are interested in joining one of Michael's Art and Nature weekends in Italy, you can contact him at micermice@gmail.com

More info on his site michaeleldridgestudio.com

Thursday, May 2, 2024

Endurance, fortitude and a magic lake in Italy

 

                                   The first to arrive, my super dog Bessie

Conversing with a friend about endurance, brought to mind taking a team of young people on a hike up to Pilate's Lake, which is under Monte Vettore where I run my workshops. The climb begins at a village called Foce where there are just a few houses and a bar, It's at about 1600m in altitude and the climb to Vettore and the lake takes about four hours through four plateaux; so you have to climb each one in turn; vertically then horizontally.

So, we had walked the first part from the bar at Foce, 3k to the bottom of the first vertical climb and the young folk immediately lost heart at the sight of it and were murmuring that they wanted to return to the bar.

And it was just at this moment that we heard singing voices above us and the sound of tinkling bells (Elves you imagine ?).

But no. Instead a line of a dozen people following a leader down the steep slope and another guide at the rear, And they were all roped together at the waist and they were all happily singing as we watched them grapple their way down towards us.

And as they came near, we saw with astonishment that all except the two guides were blind.

And when they reached our group below we of course welcomed them and praised them for there fortitude and wished them good fortune in the way Italians do.

Needless to say, my group were moved by what they had witnessed. I guess you could say that they were awakened in some form, and from then on, in over four hours climb to the lake, not one complaint was heard and they expressed, I sensed, simply gratitude and a certain calmness after such a powerful and serendipitous experience

I only met a few of them again after that day but I know that it was a story which in its way, structured their lives, and which would stay in their memories throughout life's twists and turns.

Speriamo.....

Michael

If you are interested in joining one of Michael's Art Adventures in The Sibillini National Park this summer, please click here for more info


Friday, April 12, 2024

Coincidences, serendipiti and the total eclipse of the sun




Cittadella, the perfect place to dream and contemplate


 Coincidences, serendipity and the total eclipse of the sun indeed!

Not much in common there, you might say, but read on, dear friends, read on...

This week my friend Mark who lives in Texas, gave me a running commentery on the eclipse and when I asked him 'How are the animals reacting?' He replied 'I dunno, but the purple martins have.stopped chirping'. I'll question him on this enigmatic response when he's here in Italy next month and when I've promised him a trip to Cittadella, la bella Cittadella. But, really! Just four and a half minutes of wonder for purple martins. Fear and trepidation more like

My dream whilst at school was to be a meteorologist, but I wasn't eligible for get a University place because I flunked maths (apparently my exam answers were too imaginative).

But I guess, looking back at my early life, I think I should have been an astrologist, because the moon and the stars have alway been a lifelong fascination for me, Typical question asked..... 'How come it spins in a way that it always keeps its smiling face pointing towards Earth? Such things stirred my imagination; still do.

I check out observatories in my travels. When I'm in London and in particular, Greenwich Obseratory, a visit  there is a must. In fact one such visit was during an eclipse a few years back. After the lecture, I asked the speaker 'How is it that the moon exactly covers the sun during an eclipse?'

Anwer;' It's a coincidence' A coincidence?! What nonsense1'

It's been doing that before we came out of the trees, (I mumbled under my breath)

So much for coincidence! My imagination prefers to think it is all by design.

So if a solar eclipse is not a stellar coincidence...how about this...........

....in a week which has seen these three things occur simultaneously

The eclipse; a magical but tiny fullstop in our lives.

My blog; about the magnetic Sibillini mountains, They pull in meteorites from space. and walking around you can find them scattered about if you look hard enough; very hard.

A Guardian article; About Le Marche, the hidden secret of Italy

Now, on to Serendipity (defined as the occurrence and development of events by chance in a happy or beneficial way). This is where we come into the picture; human beings as philosophers and creatives

I gave an on line lecture at the Siena Art Institute a couple of years back and had listed the people who had come into my life as if by chance. The list was long. And they were all serendipitous occurences.

Too many to relate, but here's a good example,

My wedding day!

We were asked by my to be wife's friend, Renata if she might recite a poem at the ceremony in Castelfranco. She asked me to find it for her in Italian, it was Ithaka by Cavafy.

I said I would.......... but I forgot, much to the fury of wife, soon to be and Renata. So on the evening before the special day, I rushed into town  to look for a book of his poems. This idea was greeted by scorn and laughter and I was assured that I didn't have dog's chance in hell of finding one. In Castelfranco? You must be kidding! But I found a little bookshop, the only one in town, and I asked the owner if he by chance had the book in store, or at least the poem Ithaka, by Cavafy. and, giving me that Italian outstretched arms shrug, he told me he'd never heard of it, or him. And there I stood, aghast with an accompanying fear laden numbness. Then, guess what? From the end of a long corridor came a voice. Ithaka? I'm reading it at this very moment!! 

A customer, perhaps an angel., shouted down the hall.

Wow! and the earth began to spin again and the next morning the poem was read beautifully by Renata, and the day was saved. Possibly marriage too.

So, I trust in, believe in and champion serendipity. And angels.

As most artists do.

Art is not, and never can be a learned rational activity, and we believe in Muses, Angels and we love this planet. We love nature, trees and want to protect all that is wonderful in this world, its trees, forest. oceans and animals.

And our Art is our gift back to life. Our way of saying thank you.

EXTRA INFO...

My next art and creativity workshop in English isThursday, May 30 (arrive) to Wednesday, June 5 (leave) at Cittadella

'The vibrations of Nature'

Contact Michael; micermice@gmail.com if you'd like to know more.

Grazie.






Monday, April 8, 2024

La storia da Cittadella

La Cittadella dei Sibillini è il nostro rifugio creativo ormai da circa otto anni. Anche se l'avevo scoperto per la prima volta 25 anni fa quando avevo deciso di scappare dalla Toscana verso una terra lontana dall'altra parte della Penisola;...... Le Marche.



    
il ristorante di Cittadella

Mi ero fatto dei nuovi migliori amici e un fine settimana mi invitarono a unirmi a loro per pranzo in un luogo segreto sui monti Sibillini e ad andare a passeggiare nei boschi. Ma anche per andare in una trattoria di campagna chiamata Cittadella, e incontrare il proprietario Silvio, la cui guest house è adagiata nella valle, sotto il maestoso Monte Vettore. Oltre al ristorante stile Hobbit, c'era una cantina, fornita di una sorprendente varietà di vini e il nostro ospite ci ha invitato a unirci a lui per un pranzo (che si è trasformato in un'ora prolungata di aperitivo o più); un lungo pomeriggio di festa per nulla in particolare, tranne forse semplicemente per la vita stessa, appollaiati come eravamo sul fianco di una montagna, a circa 1.800 metri nel cielo.

    Morning Ci Kung, by the pool

E ne sono rimasto colpito....

..........Dalla bellezza del paesaggio.

Dai racconti della sua affascinante storia; delle tribù Piceni che qui abitavano; un popolo la cui origine non è mai stata rintracciata ma la cui arte e cultura erano di una bellezza mozzafiato





   Gong session with Giovanni


E a loro volta furono conquistati da quei prepotenti, i romani, che costruirono città e paesi nelle campagne fino all'antica città greca di Ancona.

Dalle storie di fate e streghe che ancora abbondano qui, e rendersi conto che le antiche religioni della natura prosperano ancora oggi qui




E poi il fascino seducente di Cittadella stessa, del suo enigmatico proprietario Silvio, che nel suo modo mite, incarna l'essenza stessa di questa parte dell'Appennino; i fiumi, le foreste, le montagne e i loro ruscelli gorgoglianti. Come se fossero incorporati nel suo DNA.


  Caffè d'arte

Scrivendo questo, mi viene in mente ciò che l'artista e insegnante americano Robert Henri scrisse ai suoi studenti circa 130 anni fa: "L'obiettivo non è solo fare arte, ma piuttosto essere in quello stato d'animo in cui l'arte diventa inevitabile


  Ritrovo mattutino


E sì, Cittadella è uno stato d'animo. Per esercitarsi la mattina presto a bordo piscina; fare Tai Chi e Chi Kung sotto il Monte Vettore nell'aria cristallina. Per aprire i nostri sensi al vento e al cielo sconfinato, ai suoni che risvegliano la natura, al coro del canto degli uccelli. E più tardi, dopo la colazione, passeggiata nel bosco; immergere le mani in un ruscello di montagna e schizzarci la faccia; per dare il buongiorno alla vita, a Madre Natura.



   Tempo per riposarsi e contemplare


E in effetti, è qui che ci trova la creatività

Scorre attraverso di noi
E sperimentiamo il bisogno di creare oltre noi stessi, di creare immagini, creare arte forestale, scrivere poesie, musica; e ridere insieme della nostra fortuna di essere qui, in questo momento, in questo posto.

Per ridare vita alla vita,

Michael

Per ulteriori informazioni o domande sui workshop di Michael, visitare il suo sito web www.michaeledridgestudio.com
Oppure puoi inviargli un'e-mail a micermice@gmail.com

Thursday, March 28, 2024

ABOUT CITTADELLA (2)

 La Cittadella dei Sibillini has been our creativiy retreat for some eight years now. Although I'd first discovered it 25 years ago when I had decided to escape from Tuscany to a far off land on the other side of the Peninsula;...... Le Marche. 



    the restaurant at Cittadella

I'd made some new best friends and one weekend they invited me to join them for lunch at a secret venue in the Sibillini mountains, andto go walking there in the forests. But also to go to a country restaurant called Cittadella, and to meet the owner Silvio, whose guest house nestles in the valley, beneath the majestic Mount Vettore. As well as the Hobbit like restaurant, there was a wine cellar, stocked with an astonishing variet of wines and our host  invited us to join him for a lunch (which drifted into an extended aperitifs hour or more); a long afternoon of celebration about nothing in particular, except maybe it was simply of life itself, perched as we were on a mountainside, some 1,800 metres in the sky.


    Morning Ci Kung, by the pool


And I was smitten....

..........By the beauty of the landscape.

By tales of its fascinating history; of the Piceni tribes who lived here; a people whose origin has never been traced but whose art and culture was breathlessly beautiful





   Gong session with Giovanni

And they in turn conquered by those bullies, the Romans, who built cities and towns across the countryside as far north as the ancient Greek City of Ancona.

By the stories of fairies and witches who still abound here, and to realise that the ancient Nature Religions are still thiving here to this day




And then the seductive charm of Cittadella itself, of its enigmatic owner Silvio, who in his mild way, embodies the very essence of this part of the Apenines; the rivers, the forests, the mountains and their bubbling streams. As if they are embedded in his DNA.



  Art café

Writing this, I am reminded of what the American artist and teacher, Robert Henri, wrote to his students some 130 years ago, that 'The objective isn't just to make art, but rather to be in that state of mind where art becomes inevitable


   Morning get together

And yes, Cittadella is a state of mind. To excercise early of a morning by the side of the pool; to do Tai Chi and Chi Kung beneath Mt Vettore in the crystal clean air. To open our senses to the wind and the boundless sky, to the awakening sounds of nature, the birdsong chorus. And later, after breakfsat, walking in the forest; cupping our hands into a mountain stream and splashing our faces; to say good morning to life, to Mother Nature.



 Time to rest and contemplate

And indeed, this is where creativity finds us

It flows through us

And we experience the urge to create beyond ourselves, to make images, to make forest art, to write poetry, music; and to laugh together at our good fortune to be here, at this time, at this place.

To give life back to life,


Michael




For further information or questions about Michael's workshops, go to his website www.michaeledridgestudio.com
Or you can mail him on micermice@gmail.com

And for this week's GUARDIAN write up on Le Marche, read this




Wednesday, March 20, 2024

art/4;lAND ART UPDATE




I wrote this a few days back in my previous blog


'But we are no longer children and the experience is different for us. It is deeper and longer lasting, It is as if it is something which we cannot summon, but one which arrives as a gift, as if it is in a message brought to us by a bird or a totem animal. I have had many of such experiences, but now is not the time to write about them;  I will in my next blog'

And here it is. This just popped up from the ether two days ago, as if by chance...It's a reel


I have had the good fortune of meeting and being taught by a Shaman in the States and this brings back memories, stories to tell.
Sometime.

But here's a poem in the meantime from my poet friend Colin Pink



My mountain workshops in summer are open for booking now and you can read about them on my site , which is in Italian and English.
They are based at Cittadella, in the Sibillni National Park of Le Marche in Italy; an area steeped in history and blessed by nature. It's an artist's refuge, a place to rediscover yourselves with painting, poetry, walking in the wild and making land art by the gushing mountain streams, TaiChi and Ci Kung too of a morning before breakfast
Contact Michael at micermice@gmail.com






 

Sunday, March 17, 2024

Art/4; land art

 

    the Fiastra river

Art/4;Nature;

Land art

Yesterday morning found us four artists at the river of Fiastra, which flows past the Abbey of the same name. And flowing it was, at a noisy and phenomenal rate after the heavy rains of the last weekend. We groped our way through thickets and brier and had to jump down into a steep ditch and into mud to get near to the river edge




We never ever plan exactly what we are going to do on our fortnightly excursions into the wild, but we always come prepared with paints and colours and paper, inks, pens, you name it, just in case.





But as soon as we'd reached the river bed, whatever intentions we might have had, dissolved and were washed down stream, because..





We were instantly making land art, on our knees, scabbling about, collecting twigs, leaves, stones, branches, wild flowers; whatever we came across to.... well, it's hard to say really, because, .....because, we had become totally absorbed. No ideas coming from our heads, (but from who knows where ?); as if it were the river, or the trees guiding our hands.






We lost track of time and some auto instinct had me look at my watch and low and behold we were minutes away from a lunch I'd booked at a local pub and we were hungry.

Food before art I always say, so I zoomed off to secure our table and the others followed rapidly as if by magic, arriving just minutes after me. Mysterious that, because they'd been miles behind.

So there you have it.

We discovered something new in our creative lives. Land art takes you into a realm, a state of mind perhaps, or even no mind, which feels good, which feels peaceful and which washed away the monkey chatter in our brains, as swiftly as a crashing river.

We've done this in our childhood, we remember all these innocent things from when we were kids; sand castles on the beach, collecting shells and driftwood, making love promises on trees and daisy chains for our first love when we are young, gathering blackberries and mushrooms and making little boats out of twigs and leaves to float our wishes to a magic kingdom in our imaginations, blowing dandeline wishes into the sky.

But we are no longer children and the experience is different for us. It is deeper and longer lasting, It is as if it is something which we cannot summon, but one which arrives as a gift, as if it is in a message brought to us by a bird or a totem animal. I have had many of such experiences, but now is not the time to write about them;  I will in my next blog

If you don't mind waiting ;0)





And we will meet again......... by the river!

Best wishes,

Michael

You can contact Michael for more about his art/nature/workshops in Italy here

or contact him at micermice@gmail.com


Thursday, February 1, 2024

It's Imbolc

 Good morning!



It's the first of February, my favourite day. It's Imbolc, the ancient celtic festival which celebrates the return of the light; an auspicious day to launch my new website, waving it fondly on its way.
I've squashed everything into it, everything I think, feel and do; my art, my workshops in Italy, my on2one sessions here too, my blogs and, a new feature, my Podcasts.
And I'm throwing in a new painting from my Forest series, just for good measure, It's about light and water, as you will no doubt imagine.
Happy Imbolc, and here's the website; michaeleldridgestudio.com
Michael