Italian Identity

Opening the exhibition

From left to right:
Prof. Shirley Pearce CBE, Vice Chancellor of Loughborough University.
The Worshipful the Mayor of Charnwood, Councillor Ken Pacey.
Dottoressa Roberta Ballestriero, Curator of the Cultural Exchange between Loughborough Artspace and Spazio Arti Figurative "L.Lotto" of Mirano, Venice, Italy.
Prof. GianFranco, Chairman and Coordinator of Spazio Arti Figurative "L.Lotto" of Mirano, Venice, Italy and Professor of Engraving the Academy of Fine Arts in Venice, Italy.

Thank you to everybody and Welcome Lorenzo Lotto.

This cultural exchange has been a challenging, illuminating and very rewarding experience. The initial idea came about, over two years ago, in a conversation with Roberta Ballestriero who wanted to find an English art group to do an exhibition exchange with the L. Lotto group. Many months of hard work then followed with worry over funding, and Mike Beal’s determination and continuous form-filling finally ending in joy when the Arts Council came up trumps. In retrospect some things could have been better, but for the most part a fantastic opportunity has been realised. In Mirano we were given the most generous and warmest of welcomes and we made firm friends for life. We struggled to discuss in broken English and Italian aspects of aesthetics and ideas. We delved into the thought processes and techniques of the Italian artists. I watched as an Artspace Artist with dyslexia grew and blossomed in just a few days. A change took place and the Italians nurtured, respected and encouraged him to develop and experience new things.
La Barchessa Gallery in Mirano is grand, impressive and beautiful. We were worried that our work wouldn’t be good enough, but the space embraced and enhanced it. The exhibition was admired and approved.
It is now the turn of the Italians to come to Loughborough and we have great please in welcoming them here. We are grateful to the University for the Generator Gallery and enabling this exhibition to take place. Loughborough can’t compete with Venice! The space is not beautiful or grand but it is no less impressive and I hope that this large industrial setting will lift and inspire the Lorenzo Lotto artists as did the Barchessa for Artspace.
The cultural exchange exhibitions now conclude but hopefully the relationship between the two groups will not end. I know that for me I have a home in Mirano and they have inspired my art, given me hope and have definitely found a place in my heart.

Helen A. Ward

Without Helen Ward’s vision, enthusiasm, courage and sheer determination this exchange would never have happened. Everyone involved owes a huge debt of gratitude to Helen.

Mike Beal

Introduction to the Italian Catalogue

The most important initiatives and the most fruitful collaborations often arise from an everyday situation. A meal with friends, a general flow of conversation, and one discovers that, thousands of kilometres away, other countries conceal people with the same passion, the same energy, and the same yearning to convey their own inner world through their art. Thus, simply from a pleasant evening spent at Helen’s house, emerged the idea of organising this cultural exchange between Artspace and the ‘Lorenzo Lotto’ Art Association.

It has been delightful to discover how many similarities exist between the two groups, composed as they are of such diverse artistic personalities. Clearly different also are the exhibition spaces which have hosted the works of these artists, but it is above all the history of these spaces which is different.
At Mirano, an area of numerous residences of the Venetian aristocracy, the English group has exhibited its work in the prestigious hall that is the eighteenth century Barchessa, or boatstore, of the Villa Morosini - XXV Aprile; whilst in Loughborough the works of the Italian group are confronted by the interesting industrial space of the Generator Gallery.

The barchessa began as a building annexed to the main house and was where agricultural tenants used to store their implements and bundles of hay; this Miranese building was subsequently transformed to house the carriages and boats of Venetian noble families when they used to come to their villas to spend their summer holidays on the mainland.
The Generator Gallery has a very different history given that it was originally built to house the generators for the electricity system of the engineering college which was founded in Loughborough in the early twentieth century. It would seem that part of the plant came from the diesel motors of submarines captured in the 1st World War and subsequently dismantled in Portsmouth.

It is fascinating to observe how art has succeeded in de-contextualising and uniting two buildings with a past so different and yet almost forgotten. Two sites, whose walls are steeped in history, evoke, in a play of opposites -the old and the new, the rural and the industrial - distant memories of different identities.

Thus it is from different countries that our artists come, but they, however, recalling to mind great Venetian and English travellers, are once again spurred to travel, to discover and to encounter, and have given new life to the walls of these halls with their diverse… Identities.

Roberta Ballestriero
Curator of this Cultural Exchange.




Spazio Arti Figurative ‘Lorenzo Lotto’

The cultural association ‘L. Lotto’ is active in the artistic and cultural field with regular beginners, refresher and specialist courses, as well as seminars, conferences and exhibitions. Under the patronage of the Municipality of Mirano and linked to the Centre for Cultural Initiative since 1st March 1980, the Association is a non profit-making organisation which tries to foster and study themes linked to the arts of drawing, painting and printmaking and to the increase of knowledge of cultural and other allied subjects.
It is open to all who, as an alternative to an official course, are interested in learning all techniques linked to the figurative arts and to those who wish to equip themselves with knowledge and professional skills while focusing on their own professional and artistic choices.

The works of the members of the ‘Lorenzo Lotto’ now in England present the opportunity, falling as it does in the 25th year of the Association’s existence, for realising one of the principal objectives of the Association and school: the dialogue with spheres more diverse and much more distant from the confines of the oasis that is Mirano.
One can discuss forever the value of the word ‘art’ but undeniably the work, for those who research with passion in such a field, one defines above all as a message issued as the result of an encounter. This message, with a definite affirmative, has already been realised with success for the first time last October with Artspace’s exhibition in the spaces of the Villa Morosini-Giustinian in Mirano.
The return now with ‘Italian Identities’ at the Generator Gallery leads one to hope that this event may convey to the English public something special and unknown such as can be reflected in the future of this rapport, happily begun between the two groups, in which, and to which, Roberta Ballestriero has believed and has contributed so much.
Specifically I would like to underline what has already been said by the artist and art critic Mariangela Tiozzi (head of cultural activities in the Department of History of Art and the Conservation of Artistic Assets at the Ca’ Foscari University, Venice) on the clear diversity of this ensemble of works: some linked to the persistence of a most exquisitely pictorial tradition, others to an inexhaustible research into new means of expression.
This explains how works produced with new materials and on video appear with several works of still life and many prints. This testifies, in my view, to the basic and formative value of the former as the absolute basis for the development of every modern pictorial language and the second as a confirmation of how important a centre Venice has been for printmaking during her history and perhaps through the printing process the Italian city nearest to the rest of Europe.

Gianfranco Quaresimin,
President and Co-ordinator of the Spazio Arti Figurative ‘L’Lotto’.




Writing this text has given me a splendid opportunity to browse among the ‘Lorenzo Lotto’ archives and to run through its history. Intense is the emotion that I experience in remembering those shared moments: the ‘battle’ with local government to obtain our present workshops, participating in the yearly courses, cultural meetings, exhibitions. In particular, however, this occasion has given me the time to bring to mind the numerous initiatives which the Miranese Association has undertaken in 25 years of activity and the spirit which has sustained and animated it: especially, so as to avoid the danger of being inward looking, by looking for cultural synergies, not only with the local population, but also involving other spheres, in order to achieve an analysable exchange of experiences. The cultural activities have, in fact, always been open to the public, likewise the lectures in the History of Art, the guided visits to exhibitions and museums, the cineforum, the workshop activities for school-children, and the painting prizes (in collaboration with Hammeley and Co.). The boundaries have widened more and more- the realization of the International Biennale of Contemporary Engraving at the Villa XXV Aprile in Mirano, and now the association with Artspace- thanks to the many who believe in the potential of the Association, people like Roberta Ballestriero, a dedicated and far-sighted enthusiast. At the core lies the work of our President- also our teacher and co-ordinator- Gianfranco Quaresimin who has generously always supported and stimulated collaborative enterprises as well as teaching each of us to express our own creativity while improving our artistic analysis.
The enthusiasm which spurs the artists of the Association would not alone be enough to guarantee the excellent results obtained if they had not been accompanied by a period of reflection upon the meaning of our own work and on the coming together of different artistic languages which denotes the multi-faceted world of art of today.
Many are the artists who have passed through the ‘Lorenzo Lotto’, diverse in age, culture and goal – creating a rather heterogeneous fabric, but, and herein lies its beauty, one of a solid artistic structure. As this exhibition illustrates, some have taken a personal self-exploration course, whilst others have chosen a more traditional path. Nevertheless there remains an indelible magic fil rouge which reappears in us on every occasion, whether it be an event, an exhibition, or quite simply a social get-together.
Both Artspace and Spazio Arti Figurative ‘Lorenzo Lotto’, curiously linked as they are by the same name, have parallel intentions and are examples of how small entities, born on the flank of formal institutions, are able to involve a wide public by offering extremely stimulating artistic ideas in diametrically opposed settings: Artspace, permitted to use an industrial exhibition space in Loughborough, and the ‘Lorenzo Lotto’ a period villa in Mirano.

Maria Angela Tiozzi



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