Towards the end of a beautifully sunlit but rather windy day, in welcomed contrast to last year’s rain, this year’s celebration of “La Festa della Donna” AKA International women’s day, was celebrated at Bagni di Lucca’s historic casinò in distinguished style and was, if anything, superior to last year’s event.
There was a greater number of artists displaying, the artists were drawn from a much wider circuit including names of true international standing and the quality of works on show was of a remarkably high standard and of pronounced variety.
The photograph section was likewise wider and more representative with themes ranging from some stunning portraiture to almost abstract compositions:
What I enjoyed most, however, was the beautifully arranged “historical” room which presented past attitudes towards women when they were considered icons (or slaves if one prefers) of the kitchen, of the church and of the family. A great effort must have been put in here (as indeed in all parts of the exhibition) with contributions from many people.
It appears that in former times the only books women read were cookery ones, the only creations they indulged in were those exclusively for the table or the evening soiree and the only gods they worshiped were their husbands.
Having recently returned from Vietnam I felt slightly nostalgic about the former exclusively domestic role of women. In that country women, although now having parity political rights with men, are still very much circumscribed into the little housewife role, delighting in serving their husbands, aiming to please everyone and bringing up the children single-handedly. The point, however, is that too many western husbands still have a fantasy picture of their wives in this role and would gladly wish in them all those qualities so instinctively apparent in the stereotypical Vietnamese woman.
Unfortunately, in the complex network of our society this does not happen – an increasing number of women today have rather more progressive social views than their menfolk and, sadly, conflicts occur more and more frequently in relationships, sometimes leading to the despicable outbreak of physical (and mental) abuse to women.
As last year’s theme reiterated: “A promise is a promise: Time for action to end violence against women,”– a poignant reminder for Italy where one woman is killed, on average, every three days by her husband or partner. Little seems to have changed from last year and Italian president Napolitano reaffirmed the Italian government’s commitment to do all it could to curb the unacceptable degree of violence to women in Italy (as in so many other countries of the world).
This terribly sad and seemingly unresolvable fact was the theme of one of the poems distributed at the entrance of the casino and written by Mara. The red shoes are, of course, the symbol for abused women.
.A rather more positive poetical note was struck by Bagni di L.ucca’s own poet, Mario Lena, who read out his beautiful poem “Il Grande amore” (the great love):
Barbara Kelly (who is also an artist and a teacher and whose web site is at http://www.divagoddess.co.uk) gave a great vocal recital which, among other pieces, included this very familiar item:
Inaugurating the occasion, mayor Betti paid homage to the organizers and praised the return of the casino to its original function of providing a spectacular backdrop to the town’s festivities.
May this initiative continue every future year! In the meanwhile the exhibition continues throughout the week and many more events are planned. Don’t miss them!