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author: LEE-PISAPIA Kam Fu Bernadette
A few days after I ran into the Director of the Accademia di Belle Arti di Firenze of my years ( student from 1983, graduated 1989), I received an email regarding the exhibition at Palazzo Strozzi- Dawn of a Nation, together with a note about a meeting , to be held at the Accademia delle Arti del Disegno, at Orsanmichele n.4. The note reads, Testmonianza ( witnessing)1948-1968, with an introduction by Professor Domenico VIGGIANO, the Director of the Fine Arts Academy Of Florence in the eighties and the nineties.
for those who are not familiar with the distinction between the Fine Arts Academy Of Florence and the Academy Of the Arts Of Drawing, you will find It interesting to navigate on their websites in order to further be delighted by the connection these institutions have with Michelangelo, Varsari , Cosimo I Of the Medici, the Company Of San Luca etc.
The above sequence was filmed because since 1983, the year I first met Director Viggiano, I have never had the chance to visit this prestigious location, where one sees Pontormo’s triptych on the wall of the conference room.
The only connection I have with this Academia delle Arti del Disegno ( apart from being a student at the Accademia di Belle ArtI di Firenze ) is the fact that I was married at their chapel: the Capella of Painters , part of the church of SS Annunziata, yet a property of the Academy in ORSANMICHELE n.4, Florence
The following is a jotted diary I made during my train trip , on my return to Castelnuovo di Porto from Rome- couple days after I had been to the meeting
Dreams, Courtyard Dreams
From Rome to Castelnuovo di Porto
A diary- 1/06/2018
It must have been years
since I last ran into Director V ( VIGGIANO)
The Director who has served the Academy Of Fine Arts for twenty
Antonio says, V is perhaps seventy years of age
He is older than Antonio, I recall.
Antonio is now 63 years old.
The first time I met Director V, I was 25 years old.
And Director V must have been in his forties.
He reminded me of the Hong Kong actor KWAN HOI SAN during the sixties, with an added touch of handsome manner.
So young to be a Director of an important Fine Arts Academy, he was definitely in tune with the young spirits of the Art students.
Perhaps it was precisely because of his young age, he had the energy to perhaps transform the complicated Italian bureaucracy at the Academy, then required especially for foreign students.
At the time, if I wanted to study at an Italian Fine Arts Academy, I had to make several trips to all the places where I had previously studied, ( Scotland, Canada , Hong Kong ) and to make the application from the local Italian Consulate of those cities.
It was not only costly, such a request ( nobody at the time had studied in various places in the world before applying), but also time consuming.
By the time all these applications had gone through, I would have been so exhausted that I might not even think of enrolling anymore, of a program with a duration of four years.
Just how to avoid such a complicated procedure?
I asked my only Italian law studies friend , D.
I met D ( Daniela ) on the plane, upon my return from Florence to London. Her mother was sitting next to me, and had warmly invited me to stay in her house whenever I would come back to Italy.
So kind and generous, such is the renowned attitude of the Italians.
Thanking the lady, we saluted each other before she flew back to Rome on her next flight.
She had only wanted to keep company of her daughter and make sure she would be safe in arriving London.
I told her D would be very welcome to look me up in Edinburgh.
Sometime later D did manage to come over. I was able to put her up in our rented apartment , only for a night.
So when I finished my Postgraduate studies in Drawing and Painting, I was in turn the guest of D’s family in Rome.
I put forward the question of a possible simplification of my application procedure to an Italian Art Academy to D, who consulted her father who was a Law Professor.
The next morning, at around seven o’clock, I heard the Professor speaking on the phone.
The next moment D already told me that her father had made an arrangement for me to speak to someone from the Ministry of Highest Education.
We took a tram and reached the Trastevere area.
D translated my question.
The representative of the Highest authorities of Italian Educational department advised me,
Simply go to the Fine Arts Academy you wish to apply and if the Director of the Academy agrees to accept your application, you do not need to fly physically to all the places where you had studied, as the documents of verification could be sent directly by the consulates respectively.
So from Rome I saluted the kind family of D thanking Lawyer G for all his help and their hospitality, reached Florence by train the next hour.
Before reaching the Academy, I managed to make friends with some students from an interpreters school, who acted as translators for my everyday pilgrimage to the Fine Arts Academy.
I must have gone there everyday for a week in order to explain my problem.
I guess, the final day arrived and the young Director V and the vice Director ( ex -assistant director of film maker Visconti) finally gave me the permission.
A letter was typed in front of me by the secretary, allowing me to come back physically to the Academy in September, for a week of entrance exam.
It must have been a miracle.
It was a miracle, not only the meeting with D’s family who guested me in their house, but also how I ran into Victoria , my best friend of those years who cared about helping me with all the Italian translations , not to speak about my daily struggle to live in a city which was not that English speaking at all.（ thank you Victoria and your friends and thank you my first Italian teacher Patrizia who exchanged Italian lessons with my Drawing lessons when I was in Edinburgh)
I thank you all for your love and hospitality.
But there was another aspect worth mentioning which perhaps no one really knew.
The Story goes like this:
One day, I remember chatting with Susie, my roommate from Vienna.
It was right after my trip to Florence, where I had spent after a month, with the travelling scholarship offered by Edinburgh College of Art.
I said to Susie,
You know, as I went past the Fine Arts Academy in Florence and spotted those young students there, sitting carefree in the courtyard- it dawned on me that they must have been the happiest art students in the world.
Because we were in Florence, the most artistic city in the world , which breathes air of pure artistic inspiration.
Oh, how I wish I could be a student there!
So that day, in September of 1983, when I returned to take my seven-day entrance exam, My dream was then united with all the dreams of those students I happened to see,
in the courtyard.
So in a way, that corner of the courtyard, was the germination of my dream.
It was in that courtyard, the tourists were never able to locate David Of Michelangelo,who was standing on guard next door, in order to safeguard every single dream hidden in the hearts of the young students.
So that day when I happened to walk on Via dei Pucci , something happened
a familiar figure almost going past my sight-and
luckily I managed to stop him-
Ah, Director V
We chatted couple minutes and as always, Director V was rushing to another important appointment
This time to a show curated by him
At the courtyard of the Academy.
V Director did not realise
His mentioning of the courtyard
Allowed me to visually evoke
The dream of the past ( 2018 minus 1983- i.e 35 years ago)
Of the casual encounter of a scene: the students, happily chatting with one another, at a corner of the courtyard, not realising they were the luckiest artists / students in the world
That was a corner of an old but renewed dream
A corner where the Spirit across the street
The wings of Beato Angelico
Of San Marco
Began to take their First sprouts
Within my heart
Wings of the angels
Wings of hope
Wings of faith
Once they are fully grown
But those wings of dreams
Like the beautiful presence of God
I was once again
reminded of my hidden ageless wings
The casual encounter of Director V
I never managed to leave Italy for a long time
Only To conserve
Those beautiful ageless wings
Within my heart
Thank you Director V, I became a bit younger from that day onwards ( though I have turned sixty recently).
所以，當那天V Director 接受我的直接申請（即無需飛那麼多國家，只需由當地國家學院直接寄上文件），那差不多可以說是奇蹟。
遇見正在讀翻譯的Victoria是奇蹟。因為Victoria 與其友人其後作了我的私人翻譯，替我在翡冷翠學院呈上了意文申請書（在這裏也得提及我的意文速成師：Patrizia- 遇上她也是奇蹟）
Director V 及副Director (曾是Visconti 的副導演）每天清晨總是要聽我們這一羣女生以英文法文及意文去解釋我的特別要求—一連七天，把翡冷翠藝術學院的秘書室變成臨時有趣的劇場。我想那七天的沒放棄請求，終於感動了上天，再𧶽大奇蹟。）
不少遊客要找Michelangelo 的David 時
就在Via dei Pucci
再在街上偶遇 V Director 時