I regret not having visited Pietrasanta when the stone-dusted streets rang to the sound of sculptors carving marble from the nearby quarries at Carrara. Now most of the studios are on the edge of town and much of the area around the very pretty Piazza del Duomo is occupied by chic shops and galleries.
I met sculptor Salvatore Anselmo in the Piazza del Duomo at Bar Michelangelo – where else? The great man went to Pietrasanta in the 16th century in search of marble for the facade of the Church of San Lorenzo in Florence, a commission never realised because he went to paint the Sistine Chapel instead. Michelangelo’s marble for his David and other sculptures came from Carrara and the road he had built to the quarry still exists.
A few minutes by car takes you to Salvatore’s studio, tucked away in a yard stacked with blocks of marble, not only from Carrara but from Iran and quarries further afield. Relishing the September light for carving, Salvatore, who was born in Palermo, talked of living and working in Pietrasanta for the past 24 years. He trained at Studio Sem, learning how to carve marble and other stones in the company of sculptors and master artisans at Sem Ghelardini’s studio. There he met internationally-acclaimed sculptor Helaine Blumenfeld OBE, FRBS and continues to work as her assistant. Sculptures by Salvatore will be on show at The Garden Gallery next year.
Salvatore Anselmo has two large marble sculptures, including Venus in The Visionary Landscape of Professor Sir Robert Burgess, the University of Leicester’s Annual Sculpture Show running in the Harold Martin Botanic Garden until 26 October. This rewarding exhibition is curated by Helaine Blumenfeld and John Sydney Carter FRBS and is well worth a trip to Leicester.
Another long-time resident of Pietrasanta, Shelley Robzen ARBS, originally from the US like Helaine, is also exhibiting in the Leicester show (see image above). Shelley’s sculptures came to The Garden Gallery for the first time this year and I look forward to welcoming her back in 2015.