Portrait Sculpting in Florence

First time in Florence and first time sculpting. To learn in Florence was to return to a country I fell in love with 15 years ago. I had visited my friend studying Italian in Perugia and we went to see Assisi and Rome, Assisi has remained with me ever since. I was awed by the serenity of the place, taking in the jewel of the Basilica carved into the escarpment at one end of the city, and the maze of cobbled streets fanning out from it’s compass point. The streets held the hallowed footfall of occasional small groups of monks or nuns and, as they passed, you could look beyond and see small artisan shops laid out with sinfully delightful handmade chocolate treats nestling between sacred water fountains.

Florence was a warm, friendly, pretty hug, safely explorable, and deliciously photogenic. To work out of an art studio there, was to engage with the community, become part of the fabric of the City, not just an observer. I was going to make something, take much needed time from the rush and buzz of the world and breathe quietly next to the clay as the portrait took shape in whatever way it would. 

Nothing in mind, hands working peacefully almost on their own, there were no stops or blocks, things I couldn’t do were just things to work out slowly as time ebbed and flowed. There was little that I was aware of outside of the studio. I was engrossed until jolted when, almost suddenly, her face emerged and enlivened the most unexpected feelings of tenderness in me. As I worked on her features; a dimple, the cut of the corner of her mouth, she took on expression and presence. I was copying from Frank’s original cast of a real someone’s face and I was moved by her appearance in my clay. Apparently the feeling of intimacy you get when you work with the human form is common, Frank explained. I have discovered something I could do and it was wonderful and exciting for me.

Ciao per adesso Frank and Laura, inspiring, knowledgeable and experienced artists. Teachers who know when to guide and when to give you your space to explore. I’m returning to Florence in January to continue the sculpture. I need to build out muscle, bone and fat on her face, pay attention to her expression and hair and eventually I’ll cast her. They’ll look after her while I’m gone, just as well as they looked after this fledgling sculptress in me! Thank you for helping the discovery happen ‚̧


In the studio with Frank Rekrut, sculptor and my teacher

The Florence Studio