Brian CatlingUKVisual Arts1999

It is difficult to describe the exhilaration and isolation of solitary creative work, without it being swamped by flaccid Romantic overtones. Perhaps at best it can be seen as blind slavery to the unknown. We work in our chosen cells, transmuting it first into language and then hopefully into knowledge, through a myriad of strategies and techniques. At the centre of our diversity there is the bright invisible light of imagination; the most fulfilling and sensual mental activity, rich and dangerous, addictive and sublime.


This is what fellows share at Civitella. The shadows of contrast. Watching and sensing each other’s process and struggle. Complex people in a place made simple for our meeting and reflection. The silence and significance of these exchanges is only expressed by the noise and exuberance of our communal relaxation at the end of each day.


At Civitella I worked on a long poem LARGE GHOST. I also made a series of drawings to summon a new head for the decapitated statue of the Count Ranieri. The colour and texture of which were cloned from digital photographs of his ancient stone body. For me it is always the other works, which pin down the memory of place. The unmade ones, the ones that are still rotating and murmuring on departure. For Civitella it was the staves, tall wooden poles; staffs for walking, saint props. Each one carefully made, each containing a slice of silver mirror, an elliptical halo grafted into their hard bodies. Each stave would have the fingerprints of a fellow or friend cut and varnished into its surface. The staves would be hidden in the countryside around the castle, radiating outward, lost in the woods by the side of overgrown tracks.

Excerpt from 'Large Ghost'

I have
a large ghost. 
& smooth. 
Not learned, old 
and knowing but 
willowed in infant rush, 
In periphery like a bald 
pup, often hiding, 
tepid vest thin for the 
in a packed deflation. 
Sad, and foreign: a shaved 
a twin of violence coying 
in its buff squint.