Steet Training with Venetian teachers

Submitted by Lottie on Wed, 2010-08-25 10:26

I met with a group of Venetian teachers in June to explore ways in which drawing and close looking can be applied in new ways in their teaching. I wanted to provide an opportunity for them to look again at the area around Via Garibaldi, introduce them to the British pavilion and the work of muf for the architecture Biennale. We worked with the Biennale education department to enable these links with local schools. This is the first time an architecture practice, exhibiting at the Biennale, has worked with local schools. Central to muf’s approach is learning about what is already in a place before intervening - a strategy which has been inspiring for Street Training links with permaculture, a system for working with natural systems rather than against them. What might natural systems in terms of behaviour be? a question of special interest to Street Training. One of the themes of muf's exhibition for the Biennale is two way traffic. Muf celebrate the obsessive close looking and recording that John Ruskin undertook during his many studies of Venice. The title of muf’s exhibition is Villa Frankenstein, after a quote from Ruskin describing the miss- application of his painstakingly devised guidelines for good architectural design gleaned form the Gothic and Byzantine decoration he observed in Venice.
Street Training with teachers began by exploring in pairs, with eyes closed, the Campo Arsenale with it’s huge marble lions, trees, chains, details, textures , sensations and sounds. The teachers were asked to memorise the objects and architectural features they felt and observed in order to draw them at the British Pavilion later. They reported back a real shift in their understandings and experience of the place and were surprised at how much more information their senses gave them. They also reflected that they felt more vulnerable than usual and needed to trust the person guiding them, for some this was a pleasure for others it was a disturbing loss of control.
We then walked, paying close attention to the phenomena around us and collecting anything that we found on the floor. As we walked I interviewed teachers about what gives them Joy in Venice and what the risks are. One teacher said that if you are having an affair or are out with someone you shouldn’t be – you will deffinately bump into some one you know. Many of them told me what a pleasure it is to live in a city without cars and to interact with people face to face in the street, it was agreed that his precipitates flirting – of which they say there is much more here than in other cities, such as Mestre the nearby town. A woman named Nicoletta said that if you have a lover you can buy a padlock engrave both of your initials on it and go to a bridge you both love to lock the padlock there as a symbol of your love.
We arrived at the British Pavillion and engaged in big collective drawing activities. A huge piece of paper was laid on the floor and everyone was asked to draw a continious line which varied in it’s kind of mark making every few centimetes. Soon the room was filled with women weaving in and out and stepping over each other, their refined demeanors were a little lightened. Then we drew the architectural features we’d explored from memory followed by drawing the objects collected along the way. Finally we each chose an object to draw directly onto the walls of the British Pavillion. The teachers engaged in a discussion at the end and reflected on the value of this experiential, embodied approach, one said she was glad to have the chance to interact with new professionals working internationally and try a different approach to learning and drawing.

The pavilion walls have now been painted over, the tiny plastic ice-cream spoon drawing, the sugar packet drawing, the rubber band drawing among other fleetingly treasured ephemera lie under a layer or two of paint now, along with the murals, commissioned by Musolini, said to have adorned the front of the British Pavillion.

padlock of love
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