I am spending a week in a lovely Medieval/Roman town in the Umbrian region of Italy called Spello. This town is not as touristy as its neighbours like Assisi and that’s how I like it. Sure, I cannot speak Italian and it has been tricky trying to buy food and telling taxi drivers where I want to go but I am getting by. One of the greatest experiences I have had so far was spending a morning with the famous artist Maestro Elvio Marchionni. His most famous work is the portrait he was commissioned to create of the Pope – 500 copies were created for art galleries and 50,000 limited edition prints were made and sold out.

I arrived at 10am as planned to watch Maestro Marchionni paint and create. He does not speak English so I watched him for half an hour as he painted and then etched the curves of a womanly body on the canvas. I looked around at my surroundings, paintings lent up against the walls and benches, the dining table made from a mixture of pieces of stone and painted objects, newspapers and paints everywhere. I think I counted five pairs of reading glasses on the fireplace mantel. It was an organised chaos, a representation of what the mind of an artist may be like.

Then enters Francesca, Elvio’s assistant (also Artistic Director of Foundation Marchionni and coordinator of their art classes and events) who is always running around organising everything – a contrast to Elvio’s calm and laid back nature. They have a fun and dynamic relationship. Francesca is then a translator for me and we spend about an hour chatting to Elvio about life and his inspirations.

Elvio was born in Spello about 70 years ago and to this day still lives in Spello.  He loves Spello so much that if he has ‘holidays’ he stays in Spello or travels to somewhere that reminds him of Spello. He has his studio/home area across from the church building which now serves as a space for teaching children and also for creating his larger artworks he is commissioned for.  The church is not used for religious functions anymore. It is called Chiesa di San Michele Arcangelo ;it is the site of Foundation Marchionni. Elvio is planning to paint the Church ceiling with the episodes of San Michele Arcangelo’s Legend, and he’s doing studies and research about this Saint thanks to the help of Monsignor Mario Sensi, a Scholar  and Professor of History of the Medieval Church in the Pontifical Lateran University.His two apprentices also work in this building. He has a villa on the Spello hillside and loves to go walking to pick herbs and asparagus.

Elvio was born into a farming family who had no idea about art or its existence but when he was three years old he started drawing. To this day he has not stopped.  There are a few artists that have helped this Maestro to develop his style over the years (which is ever changing) including Michelangelo and the modern artist, Burri. The latter is a painter who uses used canvas, jute, burnt plastic, wood, iron, dust in his works. Elvio was inspired by the particular use and combination of those elements and started to work on ancient plasters, making them look like unfinished murals. The render/plaster from walls are used to make an aged look on the paintings. Elvio has then furthered this idea and started to etch drawings on this surface.

He believes that you have to be born with talent to be a good artist but then you must continue to train yourself and nuture that talent. “I believe an artist should not only paint when inspired. He must be always ready to paint.”

Elvio also works with children but tries to undo the teaching of the schools. He wants children not to think with ‘rules’ of what is right and wrong but to be free to express themselves. “There is an artist in every child.” He therefore is there to help the children when they feel stuck or have doubts about themselves and their work.

We asked what his proudest achievement in life is. “I am proud of the freedom I have in my life to do what I love most.”

Thanks to Max Brunelli for setting up the meeting with Elvio :).

May I introduce to you – A morning with Maestro Elvio Marchionni…

Whilst we were chatting in the interview Elvio had sketched this :)

Sketching whilst we were chatting.

I tried to get a smile and a got a laugh instead :)

The Foundation Marchionni building.

Always thinking…

Some works in progress and sketches.

The children’s creations from Elvio’s art classes.

That famous portrait :)

Elvio’s sweet ride!



Add a Comment:

  1. Heather T.: Exquisite, Gemma, and an excellent and interesting write-up. Thank you so much for sharing this man's beautiful work through your beautiful photographs!
    June 20, 2014 - 5:21 pm

  2. Marie Delaitre: Inspiringly stunning. Breath taking story and photos. I felt like I was in there with him. The close up of his face shows a life of a man who has 'the freedom to do what he loves most'
    June 21, 2014 - 6:14 am

  3. Mary Shoobridge: What an interesting morning we spent Gemma. Glad you were able to use the interview to enhance your lovely photos.
    June 21, 2014 - 6:03 pm

Have I got your attention? Garth and Valentina’s rings originated from Space. It is true. A meteorite landed in South Africa and now some of that rock is proudly on the wedding fingers of Mr and Mrs Ivers. What a beautiful way to show your unique connection. Garth and Valentina are also good friends of ours. During the ceremony I was a little teary. Ok maybe a lot teary. I love seeing people declaring what they love about each other in front of their friends and family. My most favourite moment happened before the ceremony though. Val assured me that she would not be able to relax and enjoy the wedding day because she would always be worried that everything was running to plan and that the guests were having a good time. She told me that she has never really been able to truly enjoy her own events in the past.  But as she stood in the hotel room in her wedding dress for the first time it all became real. Val had a moment, her eyes were glassy and suddenly the tears started to fall – she was a bride and she was really getting married after 15 years with her best friend.  What a beautiful moment.

Other things to note from Garth and Val’s awesome day:  *Weather predictions said 90% chance of rain and overcast, we had a sunny clear day with 2 seconds of rain later in the night – perfect!  *The dessert table was created by amazing pastry chef from Est.  * Val had two pairs of shoes – some gorgeous floral stilts and some gold heels.  *Garth designed the invitations – gorgeous!  *Val allowed her creative vendors to be exactly that, creative! She is an artist herself and wanted to allow more freedom.  *A group of kookaburras were laughing during the ceremony.  *Val’s sister’s nickname is Spike (I just think that’s cool).  *You could play the game I Spy with your camera and find cool and different things to photograph and then upload it with a special hash tag for the wedding.  *Garth proposed on top of a mountain in Japan. Damn these two are too cool ;).

Valentina and Garth’s superfantastical wedding vendors are listed below.

Wedding rings by Jewelry by Johan – Etsy store / Val designed her dress and was helped to create it by Sandie Bizys Hats and Vintage Dresses  /  Valentina’s shoes - Karen Millen (floral pastel) and  Gold shoes from Bhldn /  Val’s gorgeous black and gold coat by Carla Zampatti  / Flowers by the The Floral Craftsman, Matt Bisaro  / Veil by Cassandra Silvestro  / Hair flower – wishpiece  /  Hair Artist – Kristy Ferrari  /  Make-up Artist – Lisa Terizis  /  Celebrant – Linda Marsden  /  Venue – Athol Hall  /  Suit – Calvin Klein  /  Tie pin and shirt – Saba  /  Tie by Rembrandt   /  Tie bar from tiebar.com.au /  Cufflinks by Vendetta Designs /  Stationery – Garth Ivers Design (the Groom!)  /  Cakes and Dessert Table (OMG sooo good!!!) – Damir Mujanic  /  Engagement ring by Polly Wales  / Wedding necklace and earrings – Swarovski  / Tassels on giant balloons from Studio Mucci  / Sewn circle decorations by the Bride.



Add a Comment:

  1. Grandpop: Gemma, May,I,Just say,that your Photopraghpy for Garths/Valantines Wedding, was TOP SHELF. Congratulations
    June 12, 2014 - 7:27 pm

  2. Grandpop: I,See, You are Finland, and Norway. Do you come from over that way. That is where all my mob come from. Vikings.
    June 12, 2014 - 7:33 pm

  3. Lynda (the mum): GLorious!
    June 13, 2014 - 3:00 pm

If my husband and I got married again I would love to have the wedding here and styled just like this, but with red! Gledswood Homestead & Winery is lovely but Lisa made it look fabulous and this was the first time they had a reception outdoors! Lisa has a great eye for styling and will be setting up her own business in Camden very soon. There are so many gorgeous photos from this wedding I wish I could share them all!! Thanks to my assistant Renee McGrath for taking some lovely photos! Amazing floral work by Clementine Posy! Cakes by Couture Cakes. Dresses by Susan Wong and Charlie Brown. Celebrant was Rita O’Reilly. The amazing venue is Gledswood Estate and Winery.



Add a Comment:

  1. Gem: Such a beautiful dress! She looks gorgeous.
    May 31, 2014 - 9:18 am

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