Summer solstice in the Northern hemisphere falls on 21 June and while we’re planning a huge feast and ceremony to celebrate it at Villa Lena, I reflect upon the last week and how it has brought a metaphorical beginning and end in the year.
In Florence, Turin and Genoa, the solstice celebrations coincide with San Giovanni Day, the birthday of Saint John the Baptist, their patron saint, on the 24th, making this an extra festive period.
Lola, one of the residents, and her mother, Jacqueline, cooked a magnificent tagine that we ate under the stars. Mark Borthwick played an intuitive acoustic guitar set to a magical montage of Lola’s films about the performance artist, Luigi Ontani. Each of us was invited to use one of Mark’s handmade instruments to contribute their own sound to the soundscape. At the same time, Liudmila a Russian painter, had her birthday and we celebrated both her and her daughters with intricate crowns made from flowers from the surrounding Tuscan countryside.
Thereafter we ushered in a Parisian-Jewish three-day wedding celebration with the villa forming a backdrop for gypsy music, DJs and a forest fairy-lit party staged around a unicorn sculpture. At night, the villa was covered in geometric projections, and we were chasing fireflies around the undulating landscapes. Magic was everywhere.
With all these festivities happening, it has brought me back to the essence of PICHULIK, to use ornamentation and ceremony to celebrate and honour the wearer. Jewellery has been and is an expression of this in many cultures from Berber to Yoruba, Hindu to Xhosa. Initiations into womanhood and marriage are all marked with specific ornamentation.
What I like about this is how it truly acknowledges someone and honours who they are, and invites reflection and prescience to that particular stage in their life.
We try to bring this level of intention to the pieces we make through the materials we source and the purposes they serve. The Agate Queen designed with agate stone embodies the bravery symbolised by the breastplates worn by West African warriors. Commissioned pieces and the process of embodying a woman’s history, past and present, by crafting personalised jewellery is depicted in PICHULIK’s collaboration with Kristin-Lee Moolman and Jackie Burger’s Salon 58.
An ex once said to me, while sitting at a Paris café, that he could not be with me as my sun was too bright and that there was no space for him to shine. As I spend time during this residency at Villa Lena with all the creative, talented and uniquely special people surrounding me, it is becoming clear that there is abundant space for everyone to shine, to be honoured and to contribute. The greatness of creativity is that it allows each person to celebrate their gift and their talent as an offering to the whole.
The summer solstice in Europe is a time when everyone shows gratitude for the half of the year that has passed and gives thanks for its abundance and challenges, and lets both go. It represents a pause, a time to usher in the new with a new set of intentions and goals. Tonight we are making a spread of vegetarian dishes using vegetables from the villa’s vegetable garden. Each person is bringing a dish they have made and an offering of their talents. I have made simple necklaces around which each person can wrap his intentions for the rest of the year as well as a long string to which they can attach their gratitude and the lessons of which they wish to let go. Soft Baroque is making a chair for a fireworks performance and Mckay Kcfadden is reading one of her favourite author’s musings on the sun.
See below a few captured moments.