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Thursday, February 15, 2018

That wonderful state

'The object isn't to make art, it's to be in that wonderful state which makes art inevitable'......Robert Henri

I love this quote by Henri, because it sums up in very few words what our workshops are about.
Let me explain by putting it into the context of Cittadella, our creative home up in the sky in the Sibillini mountains of the southern Appenines in Italy.

The Tango of Creativity part one
Days begin early.
Before breakfast we put our bodies and minds into our fresh new space around the magnificent pool, with Ci Kung or Tai Chi, and we learn how to release ourselves from what we have no need of during the day ahead, and what to give our energy  to instead.
After a delicious breakfast on the patio, the activity begins. We play with colour, words, sketching, painting together and always sharing what we create. Writing Haikus and poetry of any sort and always, always finding ourselves absorbed in the marvellous realm of creativity.
And so the day proceeds and we find that slowly slowly, day by day, our work finds its own direction. It is an adventure, not just in art and creativity but also one into the warm nurturing arms of Mother Nature, up there beneath Monte Vettore, where we feel as protected as the trees, the animals and the springtime alpine flowers which adorn our outings like carpets of glory.
For further details of this unique weekend click here.

The Tango of Creativity part two
Is for folks who have already taken part one, or who have acquired  an affinity with painting, sketching and poetry in their lives.
It is more intense, less studio based and will take us to the mountain passes and to the Gola dell Infernaccio (the throat of hell) and other stunningly enchanting places to work.
For details of this weekend click here

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Imbolc: the changing of the light

Often times it does not look or even feel like Spring, but the light has ...changed....something that animals see, feel and react to before we do...changing seasons grew from the deep connections between us and the natural world, as we can see in the word itself, for Imbolc refers to sheep's milk in old Irish

At this time last year I ran an Imbolc photography workshop in Venice. It rained non stop for the entire weekend, but it was beautiful none the less. This morning, however, further down the peninsular at home in Le Marche, I have been busy planting olive trees in warm sunshine; doing it properly this time having learned the skill from my neighbours, replacing those which died, due probably to my negligence over winter (which so far has not been a proper winter at all). They only cost 7 euros each however, so it's ok.

So I now have 27 olive trees. A marvel.

Has anyone read 'A river runs through it'? by Norman McLean. Just re-discovered it and find it delightful to read again. Was given it by a friend years back in CA and it stirs memories of travelling in North America up though the northern western states.

But there is indeed something different in the air during these days and I noticed this just now as a light air plane flew overhead offering that softened summer sound which in winter you don't hear. But it's not just the sounds, it's also the smells of my budding fruit trees and I suppose my rose bushes too, which have flowered all winter but suddenly, today, seem more alive. And the surprise of seeing huge bumble bees tapping away at the warmed wall of our house looking for nooks and crannies to do what inside, I've no idea, lay their eggs maybe?

Is it just this time of year I wonder? A seasonal shift in my senses, or a shift perhaps in my very life? I have little love now for cities or indeed towns of any size. This is why I have chosen Cittadella for our future workshops; a place up in the sky where we can really leave the modern world behind and give our attention to the rhythms of nature, to the magnificent rivers and mountains of the Sibillini range. Spending un- hurried time together, making and talking about the work we produce, painting, sketching, photography and writing poetry.

Here you will learn to how to re-awaken your innate creativity, not just on this weekend, but how to do so always in your life, to be able to create beyond yourselves.



                              HOW TO BOOK YOUR WEEKEND

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Our Springtime workshops in the mountains of La Sibilla

   Imagine your creativity
Creativity Workshops in the Magical Mountains of La Sibilla

                                Painting, Photography. Poetry.

Our workshops this Spring in Italy are centred at Cittadella, a wonderful Agriturism high up in the Sibillini mountain range in the Province of Le Marche Italy, just below the ancient volcano of Monte Vettore. 

It is a very special place where mother nature still rules supreme, a place indeed where succesful re-wilding programmes are in action to restore the original population of wolves, bear and many other species of both fauna and flora.
Our workshops invite our guests to re-wild themselves, which simply means returning for a while to your childlike innocent playful self and through painting, poetry, photography, to deepen your commitment to live more creative and fulfilling lives.

We talk about the realm of creativity being like a distant roar of the wind which, if we give our attention to it, gets closer and closer until it absorbs us and we are taken on a flight like autumn leaves in an October storm.  And we are necessary in this dance. We make manifest these whispers, these messages, sent to us sometimes in the roaring wind and sometimes in the gentle sound of a babbling steam, or the echoing cry of a circling falcon.
By being awake and fully attentive to these wonders, we are compelled to make images, write poetry, stories, music. as out gift back to this source, whatever it might be, wherever in comes from.

The beautiful centre at Cittadella in its panoramic landscape, will help people reconnect with their natural selves, taking a break from their normal life and environment and allowing their innate creativity to flow.
And when it's time to leave, you leave with your creations, happy, relaxed, in tune with nature and your rediscovered natural self.

Here are the dates and titles. Simply click on the links in blue below to learn more about these fascinating weekends in the Magical mountains of La Sibilla. Good company, authentic Italian food, spectacular scenery.

Wild Photography in the Sibillini Mountains in Italy:
May 31 to June 4, 2018
With Michael Eldridge and Natasha Lythgoe

The Tango of Creativity
Cost E175 plus accom
With Michael Eldridge

Re-wilding the Self – via painting, sketching, poetry,17th to 21st May 2018 Cost E175 plus accom
With Michael Eldridge

Re-wilding the Self. June 8 to 12
With Michael Eldridge and Peter Moolan-Feroze

Read what the Guardian says about Cittadella

Very best wishes for 2018, may it be a creative one for you!

Friday, January 12, 2018

La magica della Sibilla; Cittadella, Maggio 2018

Quindi cosa succede su tra le nuvole di Cittadella?
Lo spazio intorno a noi si estende e ci troviamo assimilati da uno spazio più grande dove l’incantevole regno della creatività ci sussurra (e a volte ci urla) attraverso la musica, la poesia e la pittura. E’ là che ci aspetta e vuol essere ascoltata per dare alla nostra mente e alle nostre mani la libertà di esprimersi e di mostrarsi. In breve, per superare ciò di cui credevamo di essere capaci di fare.
Disegnare, pitturare, poesia, fotografia naturalistica, Ci Kung Tai Chi.
Tutto nella meravigliosa terra di Cittadella.
Autentica cucina italiana, una bellissima piscina, cavalli da cavalcare e sentieri di montagna dove avventurarsi.
Una terra immersa in mitologie e leggende, una terra in cui furono combattute esoteriche battaglie tra cristianesimo e paganesimo che tutt’oggi continuano ad echeggiare.
E’ qui, sotto al Monte Vettore, dove l’imperatore Ponzio Pilato fu decapitato e gettato nel lago che oggi porta il suo nome.
Una terra di magia e stregoneria.
Della vecchia religione della natura in cui Madre natura regna tutt’ora.

Nel cuore della natura dove possiamo ritrovare il nostro cuore e la nostra creatività innata

In Inglese/Italiano

Volete sapere di più?

Clicca qui  per il programma 2018

Monday, January 8, 2018

Workshops in the Sky

Cittadella is our home in Springtime.
1000 metres up in the sky beneath the ancient volcano of Monte Vettore in the very heart of wild nature, a land of mountain eagles,wolves and bear. And it is here that we enter another space in our lives, escaping from the prison of conformity in which modern life is cocooning us, and allowing mother nature herself to open us to our birth right, to the wonder of creativity; that powerful instinct which is simply waiting to be re-awakened withn us.

So what happens up in the sky at Cittadella?
The space around us expands and we become absorbed into that greater space where the realm of creativity whispers (and sometimes shouts) with music, poetry and painting, just waiting for us to listen to, and give our hands and minds to the freedom to express and make manifest. In short, to create beyond ourselves.
Sketching, Painting, Poetry, Wild Photography, Ci Kung Tai Chi.
In the wonderland of Cittadella
Authentic Italian cuisine, beautiful pool, horses to ride, mountain paths to get lost in.

Citta della Sibilla, the land of La Sibilla, the seer of Rome
A land steeped in Myth and Legend, a land where esoteric battles were fought between Christianity and Paganism and where echoes of these struggles exist even today.
Where beneath Monte Vettore, Pontius Pilate was beheaded and his body thrown into the Lake which now bears his name.
A land of Magic and Witchcraft.
Of the Old Nature religion, where Mother Nature still reigns supreme.
In the veritable heart of nature, where we re-discover our own hearts and our own innate creative nature

Want to know more?

Click for dates and contact

And read what the Guardian says about Cittadella

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Solstice and a parallel universe

This day finds me doing the oddest things.
Like sticking bamboo cane in the garden and painting lines with indelible markers on corners of the house. I've always done it in places I've lived in; often I've constructed mini stonehenges to greet the first glimpse of sun on a solstice morning, and doing a sort of Celtic ritual in my mind.
Fact is, this day is more exciting to me than any other for me, one which has me marvelling at the fact that we (i.e. our planet) are hurtling through space at one and a half million miles a day around our star and spinning around like a top at a thousand miles an hour. 
I mean, doesn't this just rock your socks?
Then when the summer solstice arrives, I make sure the sun's shadow aligns with my markers. So far it always has and this makes me feel secure, safe in the knowledge that we are not wobbling away towards a black hole or even worse being consumed by an encroaching parallel universe.
 It could happen.
Also I am excited by the growing light, as I know are my trees and shrubs and animals and I've made plans to visit Monte Vettore next week to pay homage to this ancient land of fairies and necromancers. Legend has it that at the summer solstice, young men climb up to the sister mountain top of Mount Sibilla to be seduced by beautiful young girls. Only to find later that these fair maidens have goat's legs. And that they (probably within a week) give birth to yet another host of goat legged maidens. Might have got that a bit wrong, but it's true that to be up there on a mid summer's night is an eerie experience, compounded by the fact that you might just be annihilated by a meteorite, yes a meteorite, as these Sibillini mountain tops are littered with little ones if you search keenly enough.
(I've just nipped out to photograph one of my solstice line ups (see pic) Note line of shadow along pencil mark (10 am) and fake meteorite)

Monte Vettore is where we hold our workshops during Spring and Autumn at an agriturism centre by the name of Cittadella. (not on the subject of necromancy I hasten to add). But rather where we absorb ourselves into the realm of creativity; painting, poetry, photography and even ceramics.

Here,it is quite easy to enter the beauty of this parallel universe of our imaginations, up in the mountains of La Sibilla, where the so called normal world just slides away, as does all the stress and worry it throws at us.

Spring workshops at Cittadella include painting, photography, poetry and ceramics.
Click here for programme dates

Happy Solstice,

Friday, December 1, 2017

Wild Photography

Cittadella is the centre where Natasha Lythgoe  and I are holding our Wild Photography workshop next May to explore this land up in the clouds.

It is a rather magical place and attracts folk who wish to absorb themselves in a world whose nature, history and culture remind them of things seemingly lost in our hurried existence.

Up in the Sibillini mountains there is an incredible feeling of freedom. Within the national park, rangers are carrying out a programme of re-wilding, re-introducing species such as the wolf, bear etc and attempting to rebalance what humans have disturbed over the centuries

Photography is our medium this weekend but the workshop could equally be labelled re-wilding the self, because we too are out of balance as a species and need to respect Nature; to re-wild ourselves

When I taught photography at the (now) Arts University Bournemouth, it was a time when analogue was dying on its feet and when digital photography was not yet proven. It was at this cusp in time that it became obvious to me that the only useful subject to address, was creativity itself; to be curious and aware of life in all its many facets and that a camera was just a machine, a commodity which was just a vehicle through which the creative imagination might find a home.

In the years between then and now, the evolution of the camera, the ease by which images can be shared with anyone on the planet at any time of day, seeing young infants taking photographs, (and even cancelling out images they don't like for goodness sake), All this makes me realise that I was right at that time; that the essence of a fulfilled life is indeed to re-awaken creativity in our lives, whatever the medium with which we choose to express ourselves. 

Our weekend at the end of May next year is about these very matters. 

Our home is a beautiful centre in an astoundingly magnificent part of Italy. (Read Guardian article about Cittadella)

It's an opportunity to work and share with others our passion for image making. (you may bring any kind of photographic image making machine)

And to join a community of like minded people who stay in contact and share images on an on going basis.

To eat, laugh, play, work together in this little paradise in the mountains of La Sibilla.

For programme of 2018 Spring workshops at Cittadella, click here