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Visiting Florence this Spring? Don't miss the Oltrano Gaze project!



The Oltrarno Gaze project organises exhibitions and events that seeks to provide a dialogue through the centuries that forges a bridge between modern-day art and artisanship, and art by historic women, with emphasis on Florence's Oltrarno district.


What is Oltrano Gaze?

Oltrano Gaze is a multi-disciplinary cultural programme, organised by the British Institute of Florence and Il Palmerino Cultural Association, with a grant from the Advancing Women Artists Legacy Fund. The multi-faceted programme foresees three art exhibitions, three grant programmes/workshops, three 'invitations' to local and international artisans, writers and photographers to produce original creations, and three cultural walkabouts. Throughout the spring, 14 women photographers and video makers will capture the creative process of the 45 artists, artisans and photographers forming the backbone of the Oltrarno Gaze 2022, via a short video documentary, a multi-exhibition catalogue (The Florentine Press, 2022), and a spoken word performance.


What is the aim of the project?

"The project's aim is to provide an opportunity to bring modern-day artisanship in Florence's historic artisan quarter into focus, and to create a platform for the exhibition of works by emerging and established artists" says Linda Falcone, the project's coordinator. "Specifically, Oltrarno Gaze 2022 strives to document and promote the creative contributions of women, rediscovering historic relationships and forging new ones."


An artisan at work in the Oltrano district of Florence




A collaboration steeped in history

Both the British Institute of Florence and Il Palmerino Cultural Association have had ties with Florence's international community since the early 1900s, with the consolidation of the city's so-called 'English colony' of foreign intellectuals and artists. Today, they continue to be a point of reference for locals and Florence aficionados from abroad, as they strive to foster contemporary creativity, in conversation with the city's past traditions. Here, are some programme highlights:


"Sotto al British" The Oltrarno Gaze programme coincides with the opening of the British Institute of Florence's new space for contemporary creativity, Sotto al British, whose focus lies chiefly on visual culture and the performing arts. This street-side venue, underneath the Institute's well-known library and cultural centre, will host several Oltrarno Gaze events, including a paper-making workshop, curated by 'Creative People in Florence' and a special viewing of selected volumes of author Vernon Lee's personal collection, as the first stop of the 'Heart to the Hills, cultural hike on May 8. On June 9-16, it will host a pop-up exhibition 'Camera Captures', the Oltrarno Gaze Grand Finale, featuring photographs, installations and craftsmanship created over the course of the project.


'Il Palmerino Highlights' In addition to hosting garden walks of its historic estate in the hills of Florence, Il Palmerino is home to two of the programme's shows. ‘Portrait Dialogues’ (until April 22) features three UK and US artists as they explore the Titian-inspired sight-size method, and stand in conversation with 18th-century female artists Violante Cerroti and Angelica Kauffman. From May 5 to June 5, it will host 'Bridges', a book art exhibition featuring 10 contemporary women artists responding to their female counterparts from the 16th to the 20th centuries. On Bridges' opening and closing nights, Il Palmerino's small amphitheatre will be stage to 'Stitching Artists into History' a spoken-word performance by Australian artist Marisa Garreffa, based on the 'call for writers' by the same name.


View of Oltrano Gaze across the Arno



How did Oltrano Gaze start?

Oltrarno Gaze 2022 is celebrating its second edition this year, and plans are already in the works for future annual editions. "The project began in 2021, in partnership with Advancing Women Artists, right after the first lockdown, as a way of bringing people out of creative isolation, and to shine a light on the Oltrarno district which was suffering for the sudden lack of international tourism," says Il Palmerino Cultural Association's president Federica Parretti. "The first edition garnered success beyond our expectations, so continuance became our priority."


"The British Institute of Florence is proud to have been entrusted with the legacy of AWA by presenting the second Oltrarno Gaze programme, in partnership with Il Palmerino, and in collaboration with many others, says institute Director Simon Gammel. "The Oltrarno is our neighbourhood, and the dialogue between contemporary and historic creative practice that Oltrarno Gaze promotes lies close to the heart of our purpose."


For full programme details, click here