“My intention was to introduce my myself to the local community, get to know the people as I sign of respect for this place. That was my first goal, once I decided to wanted to live in Mt. Subasio” –Marina Merli
Marina is the mover and shaker behind Artestudio Ginestrelle, the artist in residence program in Mt. Subasio, Italy. There are many AIR programs around the world, some formed by organizations and others by individuals, Artestudio Ginestrelle is different and that difference is due to Marina Merli.
I was an artist in residence at ArteStudio Ginestrelle and talked to Marina about how it all came together.
The house was formally owned by a woman, whose doctor husband had gotten ill and they could no longer use the house. The doors and windows had been replaced, but everything else remained in its original condition. When I came here,I wanted to re-use the materials of this place that had inspired me. I discovered many small objects, which rekindled memories of the time I had spent with my grandparents.
I started to think about the interior design, in terms of maintaining a connection between the inside and the outside. I wanted an empty space. A space for artists to be able to think about their own ideas. This was the concept of the bedrooms. There is nothing on the walls. That is deliberate. I wanted the room to become a moment of introspection for the artist.
I used natural materials as much as possible inside the house. The wood stumps were re-imagined for the tables and benches around the property. The books are sitting on boards once used to hold the cows and sheep, when this land was a farm. You can see the indentations made by the neck of the animals rubbing against the wood.
The large table in the living room came from my grandmother’s house. The farmers did not buy paint. The blue color of the legs was made using the periwinkle flower. This color was revered in the old days, because it was the same color as the rope in the paintings of the Virgin Mary. I love this table, because this process of dying is a forgotten craft. The few farmers left in this area are still cultivating the land. It’s a hard existence. The fields are a sign of life.
In the same way, the food that we provide for breakfast is another way to share the traditions of this region. We buy the cheese from a local woman, the eggs from another farmer, the yogurt from another, and of course, we depend on truffle dog, Lola for a special treat at this time of year.
Where do you see Arte Studio Ginestrelle in 10 years?
I want to maintain the quietness of the place. A small group of artists is what I prefer. I believe this allows for collaboration between the artists. The isolation of this place, allows the artists to concentrate. My only wish to expand is to possibly provide a space for exhibition. At the moment, we show the work of the artists each year in a gallery space in Assisi. It would be wonderful to have a space on the property and bring people out to Mt. Subasio. I would like to be a bridge between the international artists and the small community of farmers that live here. It is important to me to maintain the historical and cultural traditions of this place.
Director Marina Merli
Arte Studio Ginestrelle
Mt. Subasio, Assisi