CLERGY & LAITY
Leaving my country always provides me with a mixture of excitement and sadness: I am ready for new adventures and sorry to leave behind me my family, my company and my daily routine.
This is what I was thinking, while waiting for my Pisa-Rome flight on a wonderful and sunny July day, when the telephone rang.
It was Barbara, my blogger, who, knowing I was about to leave for a week, wanted to catch up with me and update me with the blog progress.
It was her idea that I would keep a diary where to jot down what would happen during my stay in Boston. I liked the idea and agreed with her I’d do it.
After the usual long and boring wait, that I made fruitful with several other phone calls about a new project I am working on, off I went flying over the magical Mediterranean sea, that I love so much, with a sight I never get tired of, especially when I have a window seat, like in this short and enjoyable flight.
I am flying to Boston to participate in a conference about mosaics and this makes me nervous and excited, since it is going to be the first time that I do a public speech on the topic.
To people like me, it is easier do things than talk about them, but this time I feel it is time to prove myself on this and I take advantage of the long flying hours to prepare a schedule of topics I will expose to the audience: the creation of a mosaic, its installation, its maintenance... topics that are common to me but still unknown to the mass.
I land on a lovely summer night under a sky covered with fireworks… what a welcome!!
I could have done with less
Visitors and attendees get more and more numerous throughout the day.
The atmosphere is informal, meetings are very nice and I modify my presentation to a friendly exhibition of techniques and materials to get people engaged in what I am doing.
Conversation flies and I find out, much to my surprise, that many delegates have never touched a mosaic or seen it from near and I invite them to use their hands to “know” through the touch the beauty of it.
Many don’t even know that mosaic is made of Murano glass and part of my day goes on by explaining the visitors what, to me, is simple daily routine, what, to me, is my life and work.
Monday starts with a jump: many visitors, hundreds of questions asked in the most informal and friendly way.
I am happy.
Happy to answer, happy to meet, happy to work and share my knowledge with people that come over and over again, with curiosities to be satisfied, with doubts to be clarified.
Many contacts, many appointments that will be transformed into potential clients in the close future with various follow-up activities managed beautifully by my American partners from Inspired Artisans, Gino and Gianfranco who are all that I could ask for in terms of partnership, knowledge and... friendship.
Yes friendship, because in life good business partners become part of your daily life, become family, at least, to me.
At 1 pm the atmosphere changes, excitement goes through the vast halls, people start talking softly as if waiting for someone really special…
We all know who we are waiting for: His All-Holiness Bartholomew, Archbishop of Constantinople, New Rome and Ecumenical Patriarch
I am curious. Curious to see someone so important in the Ukrainian church. I am curious... but not prepared to what is going to happen in the next few minutes…
The Patriarch moves around the halls, talking to journalists, waiving at people, until, something attracts his attention: it’s my mosaic, the mosaic portraying the Holy Virgin I placed on the table to exhibit.
He comes closer.
He dismisses with a nice gesture the journalists around him and then... he looks at me and smiles.
I cannot believe my eyes.
My heart is pounding in my chest.
He gets closer and closer.
He comes to my desk and touches my mosaic… I am at a loss what to do, what to say… I choose to say nothing and take a picture.
Around us, silence… people are in awe.
I am in awe.
I feel blessed to have had one of my pieces touched so lovingly by the Patriarch.
I feel fortunate to have had this experience.
I feel proud of my work.
THAT SENSE OF EMPTINESS
THAT SENSE OF EMPTINESS
In 1990 I joined Ferrari&Bacci and started that wonderful adventure that is my work in the mosaic business.
It was a special year when many unique things happened: the two sides of Germany were reunited and Germany became one; the football world championship was held in Italy and Italy was eliminated by Argentina in the semi-final… what a pity…; and in South Africa, apartheid was forever eliminated and black people could start living a better and more dignified life.
While the world at large was rich in events, my personal world became, all of a sudden, full of interest and novelty and I left Italy to go to Orlando to work on what was, at the time, my first big assignment in the mosaic business.
Happiness, anxiety, excitement…
These were the emotions I experienced on my long flight to Orlando, where I was going to stay for a 2 months’ period to install the largest mosaic I had worked on, till then.
By the moment I touched down I felt an adventure was about to begin and felt ready for that.
I was warmly welcomed by the family that managed the Orlando graveyard, that, after a while, became family to me, in the real sense of the word: people I shared my days and nights with; people I shared my success and worries with, people that became friends and then best friends.
We became so close that I came to choose David L. Neel the graveyard manager’s son, as my best man, for my wedding with Silvia, on my coming back home, but that’s another story…
I started working and, day after day, the mosaic took shape and colours became vivid in each single detail:
The work, in its whole, consisted in the representation of Christ’s life, with 180, 1 to 1 figures, spread on a surface covering 3960 sqft.
I used 3.600.000 ... yes you are reading well… three million, six hundred thousand pieces of Murano glass mosaic and I used the traditional technique of inside out paper, fixed, on its positive, directly on the Mausoleum façade.
The work went on, and day by day, the pieces were assembled and the details created large scenes of Christ’s life.
Working on site, it has always been an enriching experience,
In spite of your being organized and in spite of all the care taken in very single step of the work, there are always small things that need adjustment, when and where you less expect that, and my artisans’ expertise was, as always is, the real way out from any “cul de sac”, so to speak.
There would be so many episodes to tell, that happened during these two, wonderful, long months, but the one I remember more vividly is that the Resurrection scene was fixed on the very same day in which the Nasa, whose seat was visible from the Mausoleum, launched the Space Shuttle into the sky!! Incredible!
What an emotion!
What a feeling!
On the day the mosaic was finished, when the last piece was mounted, I moved aside and look at it as if I were its first visitor… and I experienced a weird feeling, a sense of emptiness that I had never experienced before…
I felt, lonely and sad as if my creature, my piece of art, was going to abandon me to live its own life, to walk on its feet, as it were, to shine on with its unique colours and its figures in front of the thousands of people that were going to visit it, see it, admire it, without me… forever.
I was told by other artisans about this sense of emptiness, about this sadness, but it was my first time to experience it and I was not prepared, I did not know how to handle it, without pain.
It lasted a second or maybe two… the second after I was already looking at the whole mosaic in awe, smiling happily about the final result.
Today, when I happen to think of it, I still love the idea of people passing and stopping to watch, to see, to admire what I did so long ago, together with my amazing staff.