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The British Pavilion 2017


A collection of videos and articles about this year's British Pavilion.

Phyllida Barlow introduces 'folly'

Join British artist Phyllida Barlow on a tour of her ambitious installation for the British Pavilion at the Biennale Arte 2017 in Venice.

The exhibition, entitled 'folly', playfully challenges us to explore our own understanding of sculpture. Commissioned by the British Council, Barlow has transformed everyday materials, such as timber, concrete and fabric, into bold sculptures that infiltrate the entire building, reaching up to the roof and even spilling outside.


Emma Dexter on Phyllida Barlow: folly

Emma Dexter, Commissioner of the British Pavilion and Director Visual Arts at the British Council, explores British artist Phyllida Barlow’s ambitious installation at the Biennale Arte 2017 in Venice.



The making of Phyllida Barlow: folly

Discover how British artist Phyllida Barlow created her ambitious installation for the British Pavilion at the Biennale Arte 2017 in Venice.

The exhibition, entitled folly, playfully challenges us to explore our own understanding of sculpture. Commissioned by the British Council, Barlow has transformed everyday materials, such as timber, concrete and fabric, into bold sculptures that infiltrate the entire building, reaching up to the roof and even spilling outside.



Bish-bash-bosh: how Phyllida Barlow conquered the art world at 73 

This is a lovely article in the Guardian by Charlotte Higgins on Phyllida Barlow's rise to fame.
After overlooking her for decades, the art world has woken up to Phyllida Barlow’s audacious, gargantuan sculptures. Now she is representing Britain at the Venice Biennale – but why did it take so long for her to be “discovered”?

And the response the following day, also in the Guardian:

Phyllida Barlow: I couldn't have coped if fame had come 20 years ago

Sculptor who is representing UK at Venice Biennale says she bears no grudge that she spent decades neglected by the art world

Phyllida Barlow: Folly / British Pavilion at Venice Art Biennale 2017

In this video, we have a look at Phyllida Barlow's exhibition “Folly”


The Financial Times isn't very complimentary:


But Michael Glover in The Independent seems more impressed:



It is a shame that translating from Italian often causes problems with gender:  http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/arts-and-life/life/venice-biennale-taps-artistic-angst-amid-rising-nationalism-422100613.html



Find out more about the exhibition:
British Council website

British Council on Instagram 
British Council on Twitter

British Council on Facebook
#BritishPavilion on YouTube
#UKinVenice on YouTube

Wales in Venice 2017

This year the Welsh Pavilion is in Santa Maria Ausiliatrice (Castello 450) at the end of Via Garibaldi. James Richards: Music for the gift.




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10 am to 6 pm.
Closed on Mondays.

Afterglow: Pictures of Ruins


Allegorical Scene after Dosso Dossi, detail © Vik Muniz (2017). Courtesy of Ben Brown Fine Arts, London

Venice, Palazzo Cini
Campo San Vio, Dorsoduro 864
21 April - 24 July 2017


The Palazzo Cini Gallery
The exhibition season opens with the first ever showing of some Vik Muniz photos inspired by old master paintings


On 21 April 2017 Afterglow:Pictures of Ruins will be unveiled. Vik Muniz's latest project has been specially created for the Palazzo Cini Gallery as a homage to masterpieces in the Cini Collection

The 2017 the exhibition season at the Palazzo Cini Gallery at San Vio will get underway with a contemporary art show. From 21 April to 24 July, the second-floor rooms will host Afterglow: Pictures of Ruins, an exhibition by the renowned photographer Vik Muniz. A homage to Venice that grew out of discussions with the curator Luca Massimo Barbero, the Director of the Institute of Art History at the Fondazione Giorgio Cini, the show includes some new photos inspired by great artists in the Cini Collection, such as Francesco Guardi, Dosso Dossi and Canaletto, as well as a very striking glass sculpture.
Thanks to Assicurazioni Generali, the Gallery’s main partner since it reopened in 2014 and for many years an institutional sponsor of the Fondazione Cini, the season of exhibitions open to the public will run until 15 November 2017.

Festa della Salute

Santa Maria della Salute

In 1630 Venice was ravaged by a terrible bout of the bubonic plague which was spreading across Europe. This time it lasted for two years. Forty six thousand people were said to have died from a population of one hundred and forty thousand; nearly a third of the population.

Doge Nicolò Contarini made a public vow to erect a church called The Salute, asking for the Virgin Mary's divine intervention to rid the city of the plague. On October 22, 1630 the Senate decreed that a new church would be built. Eleven architects took part in the competition to design the church which was won by Baldassarre Longhena. His design perfectly captured the grandiosity and magnificence that the Serenissima wanted: a church that exalted the Holy Virgin and the Venetian Republic at the same time.



It took until the 1680s for the church to be completed. To give thanks for deliverance from the plague, the Senate visited the church every year. The 21st November is known as the Feast of the Presentation of the Virgin (Festa della Madonna della Salute) and is still celebrated today in the city. 

Every year a pontoon bridge is built across the Grand Canal to connect the San Marco district to the Salute church.

The bridge of boats

One of the 'boats' hold up the votive bridge.
On the morning of the 21st November the Patriarch of Venice leads a procession of the city's officials from Saint Mark's Square over the bridge to the Salute church and the Patriarch gives a service of thanksgiving in the church. 

Venetians entering the church.

Crowds in the church.

The Patriarch's Sermon
Rowers from around the city parade down the Grand Canal to join in the festivities.




Citizens and visitors then visit the church taking candles to light. There are stalls selling the candles in front of the church.


In the streets behind the church are stalls selling frittelle (doughnuts), balloons, sweets and other food. It can be a crush depending on the time of day.  







 Castradina, a mutton stew, is typically eaten on this day.

Old Maps, Expeditions and Explorations

Two lovely blog posts about Venice found on the blog "Old Maps, Expeditions and Explorations" by


The first description of these island people comes in a letter sent in 523 to their tribunes by a legate from the Ostrogoth kingdom then prevailing in northern Italy. Cassiodorus was asking them to transport wine and oil across the waters to Ravenna. “For you live like seabirds,” he wrote, “with your homes dispersed, like the Cyclades, across the surface of the water. The solidity of the earth on which they rest is secured only by osier and wattle; yet you do not hesitate to oppose so frail a bulwark to the wildness of the sea.” He was not quite accurate in his description; there were already some houses constructed from the stone and brick of the mainland. He went on to say that the Veneti “have one great wealth—the fish which suffices for you all. Among you there is no difference between rich and poor; your food is the same, your houses are all alike.” Again, this was not quite true. Extant testimonials suggest that, even at an early stage in the development of the lagoon, there were rich as well as poor families. Cassiodorus then added that “your energies are spent on your salt fields; in them indeed lies your prosperity.” In this, at least, he was right. And he added the significant detail of “your boats—which like horses you keep tied up at the doors of your dwellings.” By good fortune one of these boats has emerged from the mud of the lagoon. Part of a rib of oak, and a hull of lime, have been found on the island of S. Francesco del Deserto; the boat itself dates to the fifth century. It was lying at a level that, in this period, would have been submerged except at times of low tide.


Read more:
Old Maps, Expeditions and Explorations: Venice I
Old Maps, Expeditions and Explorations: Venice II

Dream of Venice Architecture

“With its artfully evocative photography and illuminating, often-poetic, essays, Dream of Venice Architecture pierces the myths and mist of this enchanting city with fresh insights into its myriad sensory pleasures. From exotic buildings whose facades resemble carpets to pirouetting wind vanes that signal the onset of the latest Adriatic weather, Dream of Venice Architecture captures both the magic and the mysteries of this ‘precarious paradise.’”
  Blair Kamin, architecture critic, Chicago Tribune
"More than any other city, Venice embodies a defined urban form, compact fabric and unitary body composed by successive historical transformations."
Mario Botta

"Venice, for me, is a metaphor for unexpected creative possibilities."
Louise Braverman, FAIA

"Venice: the ageless city. How can we take measure of her to a finite time, she who is crystallized by the juxtaposition of styles, of forms, of places, of spaces..."
Enrico Baleri 

"Venice, where everything flows, unpredictable, like nature itself."
Massimiliano Fuksas

Dream of Venice Architecture is the second book in the series on contemporary Venice. 
Dream of Venice Architecture is an intimate journey through the remarkable Venetian urban landscape. A cadre of notable international architects and architectural writers explore the elements that make Venice unique in the world. Dream of Venice Architecture reveals the incredulity of her beauty, from the mysterious sotoporteghi to the complexity of Carlo Scarpa’s "immaculate detailing." 
The book includes architects who have built in Venice (Tadao Ando, Annabelle Selldorf, Mario Botta, Michele De Lucchi, and Valeriano Pastor) as well as Scarpa experts (Robert Mc Carter, Richard Murphy, Anne-Catrin Schultz, and Guido Pietropoli). Representing the 2016 Architecture Biennale, the book includes TAMassociati (curating the Italy pavilion), Cynthia Davidson (co-curating the US Pavilion) and Louise Braverman (exhibiting).
The introduction is by Richard J. Goy, the international authority on Venetian architecture. He bridges the chasm between the original muddy wilderness of the 5th century and the intrigue of the built environment. The evocative photographs are by the award-winning filmmaker and photographer Riccardo De Cal, who shot an image to accompany each essay. A portion of the proceeds from each book will be donated to Foundation Querini Stampalia to support their architectural programming in Venice. 


Where to buy and reviews.

Reopening of the Scuola Grande della Misericordia

Didier Descouens - own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=19630006

The Scuola Grande della Misericordia is about to reopen after extensive restoration. The space will be used for exhibitions, private parties, fashion shows and conferences.

As unlikely as it seems, the building was a gym for many years and even a basketball court which hosted Serie A matches. The links to sport will continue in the new life of the Scuola as it will host sports conventions, particularly for the Reyer basketball team as Luigi Brugnaro, Venice's mayor and the funder of the restoration is the patron of the team. There will be a documentary to tell the story of the sporting life of the Misericordia - the best gym in the world.



The first exhibition in the Scuola will be about its own restoration, the preservation of the beautiful Veronese School frescoes which adorn the walls and the architectural structure.

From May, the Scuola will host a collateral event for the Architecture Biennale.

Original article on Venezia Radio TV in Italian.

Website of the Scuola

More articles:
Un gioiello restituito alla cittĂ !
Posted by VeneziaToday on Thursday, 10 March 2016


RESTAURI & POLEMICHE - Ecco la Scuola Grande della Misericordia, il candidato sindaco si toglie qualche sassolino --> http://owl.li/OdCQJ
Posted by Il Gazzettino (sito ufficiale) on Friday, 12 June 2015