On the occasion of the Women’s Day, the short film I made on Donatella Trombadori recalling her childhood at Villa Strohl-Fern in the 1930s when the garden was an artists’ colony was shown during an exhibition at Palazzo Farnese, the French embassy in Rome. There were many visitors during the day and it was a great opportunity for me to get a feedback on the film which will be released later this year in a new (still secret) media dedicated to gardens.

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I went to see the exhibition dedicated to the artists who lived in Villa Strohl-Fern at the end of the XIXth century and during the first part of the XXth century. If you have the chance to go to Rome, the exhibition lasts until June 17 in the beautiful casino dei Principi in Villa Torlonia.
As I spent many days photographing Villa Strohl-Fern last year for an exhibition, it was great to see paintings and sculptures by Francesco Trombadori, Carlo Socrate, Ercole Drei, Giuseppe Lallich and many others.  Some photos of the artists in the villa and even a film made by the Italian television during the war are also shown.
http://fr.museivillatorlonia.it/

 

Revue ‘Jardins’

April 11, 2012

I received this morning a copy of the third issue of the Revue ‘Jardins’, founded by Marco Martella. It is a yearly magazine of texts and stories (no pictures!) about gardens, with often famous historians, writers or gardeners taking part.

I was very pleased that Marco Martella asked me to write a story for this third issue with the theme ‘Time’. I wrote a text called ‘Un photographe à la Villa Strohl-Fern’ (A photographer at Villa Strolh-Fern) telling my experience in a garden with a long history but forgotten, and following the footprints of poet Rania Maria Rilke, who spent a year at Villa Strohl-Fern.  The Revue Jardins is published in French by ‘Editions du Sandre’ and distributed by ‘Les Belles Lettres’ in the best bookshops. The official release for this third issue about “Time” is April 25.

 

Heavy snowfalls in Rome have made a lot of damages to gardens. There were many trees which felt down, branches that broke…

In Villa Strohl-Fern, the tunnel of roses collapsed pulling down its columns and needs to be rebuilt. A branch of the cement tree, an art piece of the early 20th century by Baron Strohl had been broken and one of the trunks of the eldest evergreen oak of the garden, which might be 300 years-old, broke and felt on the ground. The tree was already missing one of his trunks and will hopefully survive. It was the first time in 27 years that so much snow felt on the Italian capital and 2012 will sadly remain in the memory of gardeners…

Following the steps of Baron Strohl, I visited the ‘accattolico cimitero’ of Rome, the graveyard for non catholic people, also known as the ‘English cemetery’ because many people buried there are foreigners. For me, it is one of  the most beautiful place to rest for thousand years : it is a marvellous garden, located by Rome’s Cestio pyramid, with many people buried there who were great artists, painters, writers. The most famous are John Keats and Percy Bysshe Shelley. Baron Strohl, who created Villa Strohl-Fern is also lying there, nearby Goethe’s son.

Surrounded by cypresses and planted with all kind of trees and plants, I was very pleased to discover a cemetery which is not flowered with geraniums and Chrysanthemums in pots a couple days before All Saints’ day…

Baron Strohl’s grave.

What could be more beautiful for a garden photographer than exhibiting prints in the garden where the pictures were taken?

I was really pleased to show 21 images of Villa Stohl-Fern during the “Nuit des metamorphoses” event , where many other artists took part. The organizers were planning to get more than two thousand visitors and it seems they reached or beat their expectation. I got the chance to talk with many of those who came to look at my prints and the compliment which pleased me the most came from Gianni, the doorman of Villa Strohl-Fern, who is a very cultivated man who have been working there for more than 20 years. Gianni knows a lot about the garden and I think he is one of the very few people I met during my work on Villa Strohl-Fern who really understand the garden and feel it. Every time I was going for a photo shoot, he was telling me about the history of the garden, if I had seen that special light which comes during a few minutes on some trees, about a piece that an artist who was living there had done…

I made a slideshow on my website with the 21 pictures that were exhibited yesterday.

Before the opening of the exhibition, with Rome and St Peter’s basilica in the background:

Later in the evening, during the show, and after it was closed with the moon over the exhibition.