THE ROOM OF GOOD DREAMS

I’m back in Italy to do some essential arthouse repairs-and develop my business-in-two-countries! New perspective, intense enthusiasm, and renewed dedication to my arthouse project- with the enhanced sense of identity coming from having my feet now in two cultures -my own, and this one in rural Italia…

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Joy of all joys, this week the works on the house above me (urgh!) are grinding noisily to a close- just a few more days of hammering, then we will be woken by birdsong and distant farm vehicles, rather than pneumatic drills and crashing rubble making the walls shudder.

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This is a spectactularly special moment for me and the arthouse: I have reclaimed a very special room, which was totally f****d up by the works being done above. (The photos here are of details of the room, as I am working on it.) The basic misunderstanding (easily made with an untrained eye!) by Team Casa above, was that this was an unused and already ‘unfunctional’ room, so it wouldn’t matter what kind of shit they threw at it.

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It was, invece, a meditation and sewing and chill-out space, and a place to store my paintings, frames and tools. I had worked painstakingly over the past four years to get it to a state of acceptability: it was clean, dry, cosy and peaceful there- a magical womb-like space in under the ground. Above is the meditation niche I made in late 2013, just before the works above started.

taking in the mess of the open rafters...

Suffice to say, since spring, we’ve had the constant presence of a) the workmen, with their tools and loud voices, b) several hundred litres of water leaching down through the walls, and ceilings, since they left the mains tap on overnight and a pipe burst open full flow (they made me sign papers to say it wasn’t them (!), but paid me a meagre compensation anyways- aaah, don’t you just love Italy!), and a ton of dust and rubble- which I have only now finished clearing completely from this room. It has been at best extremely stressful, and at worst had me feeling like it just wasn’t worth it, and I should finally sell my house, and put both feet back into the land of proper building regulations…

the back wall, sort of stripped bare

So anyways, this moment is a specialissimo one, because it marks the reclaiming of this space; returning it to a sacred and loved state, and making it into a beautiful sewing and retreat room: The Room Of Good Dreams! I’ve worked hard covering the roof beams with newspaper: contrary to the enthusiastic assertions of the project manager and absentee owners, that once they’d ripped up and replaced their floor above, there’d not be a speck o dust falling any more… aye, right- came back from some months in Scotland, to find all my belongings in that room caked in lumps of cement and piles of fine fine ancient dust. And every new footstep and hammer blow showering more down. Grr.

phase one of covering the rafters

Moving on: once I get sufficient layers of newspapers caked onto the ceiling, it’ll be painted white and the big cross-beams decorated with nice gold and red lines or something else very beautiful…

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I’m repainting the floor, if I can find a nice red paint- just got fooled into buying some red (roof-waterproofing!) paint, with the promise that it’d be wipe-able and would work on a floor. Hmmm- think I need to go to the other ferramento. You can see how life in Italy can be a bit Monty Python at the best of times, eh!

view up to room from pantry behind kitchen

This is a view of the ‘window’ looking up at the back of the pantry, behind the kitchen (where I took out the old bread oven). I’m thinking long and hard before putting any frame, or glass, or fabric here, as I want to feel my way into how the space is used, and if I can maximise the natural light coming in still, whilst also making it a private, undisturbed place… Piano, piano.

the inside of the 'window' which looks down to the kitchen

This is what the ‘window’ looked like from the Room of Dreams, before I began to fix it up: it also used to have an old frame and mini door which I ripped out.

working mess....

Working on the edges…

work in progress/ lavoro in corso

The cementing…

arthouse cementing techniques: everything done by hand!

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…and the stucco-ing: yum!

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I use a cementing/ stuccoing/ everything-ing technique of ‘hands-on’ as I find the usual tools for this kind of work a bit hard to manage. It is a fabulous sensation, and a very satisfying method, to put on materials with one’s hands- you should try it!

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The wallpapering of the roof beams with newspaper was particularly rewarding: great sticky squares of soft paper, being slapped onto the clunky medieval beams, covering up all manner of roughness and ugly, and then smoothing it out in big sweeping strokes into a neat, clean surface which can be decorated as I wish… Gorgeous.

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   Without giving too much away about this room- I want to make a presentation page on my website first- I’ll say that it is fast becoming my favourite room in the house: a place to feel totally protected and safe, nourished and calm- and the sense of it being held neatly there under the earth. There’s a real feeling for me of repair, of realignment… I’ll post some photos when it is finished and uber-pretty: wish me luck!

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