Our First Full Day with the AWAI in Venice

We took a vaporetto along the Grand Canal to San Marco

Our first full day of the AWAI photography workshop was full on. We began the day in small groups in San Marco and the surrounding area photographing the iconic sights of Venice.

 The Basilica in San Marco

Beautiful mosaics decorate the entrances

More beautiful mosaics

After a well-earned lunch, there was a two-hour classroom session on Lightroom, the software programme specially designed for photographers to enhance their images. This was followed by a visit to a mask-maker and a paper-maker.

Carlo Marega with a wall of his hand-made masks

The mask-maker was Carlo Marega, of Atelier Marega, who gave us a fascinating glimpse into the art of hand-made Venetian masks. His masks are constructed of “paper-machè”, and he follows the traditions of the ancient mask-makers dating back to the beginning of the XIVth century.

This is a traditional "plague doctor's" mask. The beak was filled with 
sweet-smelling herbs to protect the doctor from inhaling the the 
foul air and catching the plague. The doctor also wore a long coat and a 
large hat to keep his body covered as further protection.

 We watched how the masks are made with layers of card and glue.

Carlo Marega uses a card, something like construction paper, and although his masks are only made with three layers of card and glue, they are surprisingly strong and durable. Every mask is uniquely decorated, even if the base moulds are reused many times.

Carlos Marega also showed us how gold-leaf is applied to the masks

Our next stop was at the home of Alberto Valese, who makes hand-decorated paper, with a system first developed in the Byzantine era, called ebru. He studied for many years in Istanbul, and is the only foreign artist recognized as a "master" in Turkey. One of Alberto's specialities, is the marbled paper that was originally imported through the Silk Road from Japan and China to Turkey, and gradually spread throughout Europe during the XVII century.

Alberto Valese demonstrates his technique of splashing different paints 
onto a water and gel surface, before carefully placing the paper 
on top to absorb the pattern.

Paint on the surface of the gel

The patterned paper is then dried on racks. Every design is unique.

Alberto Valese also demonstrated the highly specialised technique 
of painting on the gel with very fine brushes, to produce a 
uniquely Turkish design

The finished design.

This day was amazing, and I waited with anticipation to see what the next day would bring.


Ultimate Photographer's Expedition, Venice 2011

"My beautiful, my own My only Venice - this is breath! Thy breeze Thine Adrian sea-breeze, how it fans my face! Thy very winds feel native to my veins, And cool them into calmness!" – Lord Byron, ‘The Two Foscari’

Byron expressed what many of us feel about Venice, it is so easy to fall in love with this unique city. I was lucky that Venice is only a two-and-a-half hour flight from Istanbul, so I was able to fly in on the morning of our first day at the Ultimate Photographer's Expedition, Venice, Italy 2011.

We stayed in the Hotel Abbazia, close to the Santa Lucia railway station. The hotel is housed in a restored ancient Abbey, that of the Discalced (barefoot) Carmelite Brothers, and many of the original features still remain. My room was up four flights of stairs (there is no lift), so I had plenty of exercise! There are rooms on the ground floor, but they must have decided that I looked fit enough to cope with all those stairs!

We gathered together at 2 pm, for our first meeting with Lori Allen, Director of the Travel Division at American Writers & Artists Inc (AWAI); professional photographer, Rich Wagner, and our Venice guide Kathy Scopin of Fantastica Italia. Introductions over, Rich checked our camera knowledge, before we all headed to a local cicchetteria for anti-pasta, a glass of wine, and an impromptu Italian lesson. 

Attendees getting to know one another. 
Lori is in the middle in a turquoise dress.

The other side of the table, with Rich in the centre, and
Kathy in blue next to him.

After dinner in another restaurant, new-found friends, Dave and Susan, stopped off with me for a delicious glass of Baileys Dream Shake (ie Baileys, ice-cream and cream) before heading back to prepare for our first day of photography with Rich Wagner.

Oh, incredibly yummy!

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I couldn't resist this one!