Nature in every sense

February 22 > July 14, 2019

curated by the Art Workshop in conjunction with Topipittori
Spazio Fontana
admission free
Image: Marianna Merisi, Vagabonde (Topipittori 2017)

An exhibition-workshop using illustrations to tell the story of nature from every point of view, with the lens of science and with the interpretation of art history, but also an exhibition that allows visitors to explore trees, gardens and fruit using all five senses: smelling, touching, observing and experimenting thanks to operational walls set up alongside the exhibits.

In the exhibition, the illustrators who have lent their art to breathe form into nature in the books published by the Topopittori publishing house: Pia Valentinis, Marianna Merisi, Gioia Marchegiani, Sara Maragotto and Caterina Gabelli (Studio Fludd), Christel Martinod, Federico Novaro, Stefano Olivari and Anna Resmini.

To make the pathway even more accessible and to enrich it with other potential interpretations, we have chosen to translate the texts into WLS and Braille in collaboration with experts in the field.

Loads of special events linked to the exhibition for the young and less young alike: encounters with artists, workshops, tactile and sign language readings, intercultural pathways and much, much more.

Why this theme?

Nature is an issue close to the Art Workshop's heart that is a constantly recurring feature right across the range of our projects, from scientific popularisation shows to modern and contemporary art exhibitions via the collection on the Art Bookshelf, a library specialising in international art publications for children. Observing and discovering plants, trees and gardens offers young and old alike the right stimuli to read and interpret their surroundings with the kind of care and poetry that artists have always shown.

To study nature, you need to crouch down and look through a magnifying glass or take a step back to grasp it in all its grandeur, exercising your powers of inspection. You can appreciate its strength and spontaneity, its wild and invasive quality in the weeds that grow in cities, but also its fragility and its need for care in the flowers in a garden that require constant commitment and responsibility.


Why these books?

The point, and the starting point, as with all of the exhibitions curated by the Art Workshop, are books. Aesthetic quality is a crucial premise for us and Topipittori's PiNO – Piccoli Naturalisti Osservatori series merges the strength of women artists' artwork and the consistency of the publishing project with the agility of a working book to take with you on your travels. And that's not all. In these fully-fledged guidebooks for young explorers, the words of science and the images of women illustrators mutually bolster each other to bring together two worlds too often devised as separate worlds even in an educational context. Alongside the PiNO series we have chosen to make room for the depiction of nature in art. That is why the exhibition showcases the work of Pia Valentinis on the landscape and en plein air painting (once again, a working book for taking on one's travels that is part of the PiPPo - Piccola Pinacoteca Portatile series) and Gioia Marchegiani's Sardinian herbarium which brings two worlds together with its tribute to Maria Lai and its interest in botany.


Why this layout?

Like the books chosen, so the exhibition too adopts a workshop approach in line with our education ethic in which first-hand experience, along with first-hand experience of the artwork, is the true driving force for knowledge. Each section of the exhibition is devoted to a different way of using and enjoying nature, with a working wall designed to involve spectators in a multisensoral experience with a direct invitation to get involved by smelling, touching and listening. To acquaint the public with the work of Pia Valentinis, Marianna Merisi, Gioia Marchegiani, Sara Maragotto e Caterina Gabelli (Studio Fludd)Christel Martinod and Anna Resmini, we have chosen to showcase not only the plates in the book but also sketches, exercise books and preparatory drawings, and to shine the spotlight on the enormous amount of research into sources, colour and graphics that goes into each and every image, including the seemingly more immediate digital images.

A final observation, yet one that we consider to be of crucial importance, concerns the notion of accessibility, inclusion and encounter among differences around which the whole project revolves. Nature in Every Sense is the third stage in an ideal exhibition pathway which began in 2016 with an exhibition of plates and tactile books called One-Way Systems, designed in conjunction with the Italian Federation of Institutes for the Blind, and which continued with Silent Books. Final Destination Lampedusa, an exhibition curated in conjunction with IBBY Italia. This, because all our activities and projects increasingly seek to offer original tools for mediation and inclusion and to eliminate all physical, linguistic and cultural barriers in order to facilitate the encounter between people of different origins and with different abilities.

For this exhibition too, we have chosen to translate all the texts in the room into Braille and to commission tactical wooden plates from Mamalbero 's craftsmen so that everyone can explore nature even through their hands. And that's not all. In conjunction with Dr. Enza Crivelli from Uovonero publications, all the texts have been written in WLS symbols that increase reading options also for people with communication impairments thanks to a multiple (verbal and iconographical) code, in the sincere belief that plurality of language serves not only to cater for specific needs and requirements but also to stimulate an encounter among potential interpretations and to enrich the experience for all those involved.



Nature in every sense