My family has been producing artistic ceramics from 1600 to the end of 1800, when it stopped living of its art, left its country and went away looking for a better life. Me, my brother and my son are the last ones with our surname: that’s quite a strange feeling.
That said, after more then a century, my grandmother started a self-taught painter career. She was not living on it, but she painted and exhibited her artworks until Alzheimer went too strong.
My grandmother left school to go to work at the early age of 10 and she married very young… and she was a young widow just after the end of the Second World War, with 2 kids to grow up alone. But during her hard life she always managed to improve herself and to to get that education she didn’t receive at school: she found it travelling alone around the world, during a time when doin this wasn’t really common for an italian woman alone. After a trip to India she opened a shop in Milano where she was selling far East products, jewelries and fornitures. She was successful and runned the business until she retired.
She was considered a very unconventional – sometimes strange – woman even by her sons who could never force her to live and act differently: her house was fully painted by herself – top2bottom – with flowers scenes, or she used to have weekly dinners with not less then 20 people at her small flat, dining in the same room where she used to oil-paint everyday, so imagine the odor-mixture. For years she took in her lounge a Christ’s picture to which she never added eyes and mouth ’cause she was telling everybody she loved to think at him in a different way everyday… and every Sunday she had a big Canasta’s (Milano’s oldschool cards game similar to Bridge) match where her friends were invited, but womans only were allowed. This quickly and unpredictably become very trendy in her district and everybody wanted to be part of it. I remember when I was a child goin there during Sunday afternoons and looking amazed at this bunch of woman smoking, drinking and playng cards in perfect silence: Canasta is a game where talking is prohibited.
In the picture here (shotted with my phone, my grandmother will forgive me!) there’s me at 3 years old together with her in front of Milano’s Duomo, city’s cathedral. The canvas is oil painted by her and it dates 1976. It stays in my studio in front of my desk, it always reminds me where I came from.