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The resistance to my revelations should come as no surprise. I hope to overturn a whole history of misconception and mythologising in art. This myth-making has come about partly through the propaganda of artists but mainly through the misunderstanding of art historians who have little understanding of how artists truly approach their work or their cast of mind. They need to spend more time in the studios and listen to what artists tell them.

Artists need dealers and critics to sell their work. Artists themselves may not be their own best sales person, normally a third person is needed as advocate. Art dealers and critics are usually recruited from a verbal background, where the artist is by nature ruled by images. Through practise I have become more articulate than most in an area that needs clear thinking. My vocation is as sculptor and teacher. I have spent my life at it. Most artist are obliged to teach for their living, I teach because I feel an obligation to keep art, as I understand it, alive. That ambition is clearly going to take more than one life-time.

The majority of educated people today may feel they know nothing about art but this has not always been the case. In the great moments of art it certainly was not. Art came to prominence as a communication to the illiterate as well as the literate. Like music it once had a universal appeal which it has now lost. I wish to propagate the idea that art is not a luxury but is necessary for our survival. It is an exploration of life; life as we are able to perceive it on the one hand, and as it truly is on the other. The gap that exists between the two is the result of the complex development of the human brain. Our image thinking has been overpowered by the success of abstract reasoning: word and number have submerged the original animal-brain imagery. We all have the animal instincts and the brain to go with but for most people the convenience of abstraction has submerged the primitive thought process. I seem to have held onto it.

I see art as building bridges between the world of the senses and the world of ideas. There has always been an abstract element in art which is inevitable; the result of the human abstract brain development over the last 40,000 years. Instinct and feeling go back way beyond that, they need to be constantly exercised if they are not to atrophy. The practice of drawing should keep those instincts alive but logic and reason are required also. The bridging of the two response mechanisms is the centre piece on which I hope to build a web of new possibilities.

In 1983 I was in a position to open my new school of art in Casole d’Elsa. My ambition was as above to educate artists with a new emphasis using my earlier Eye Opener course as a basis. Every year opened with that course until the number of students applying faded beyond what was viable. It is difficult to swim against the current in art and survival has to take precedence over preference. In the event the school has catered mainly for holiday painting courses run on as sensible lines as the market will allow. I think I can boast that the painting tutors are among the best landscape painters that Britain can muster. The teaching is in English. In sculpture I can manage in Italian also.

I had bought a ruined barn in Tuscany. A huge amount of renovation was necessary but by 1983 I had managed to put enough of it in order; it was so large that we could work in one end and build in the other. Our first course was of Australian art historians who came to Tuscany to visit the surrounding art treasures. I was still hanging doors in the bathrooms when they arrived. The whole course took place in a building whose amenities were well short of Faulty Towers. Fortunately Australians are very adaptable, they arrived at the end of April, a storm shortly followed, there weren't many windows in the place and I tried to limit the draughts by hanging a very heavy curtain in a doorway but the wind was so strong that the curtain simply blew out horizontally. One of the Australians was overheard saying “if I die here I'm going to make bloody sure the world knows why”. Nonetheless they returned the next year when it was much better prepared.

By 1985 we were able to cater for quite reasonable sized courses and by lucky chance a journalist came to one of the fuller courses and had such a good time that she wrote it up, The article came out in the Sunday Times on Easter Sunday, we had a queue of 200 people hoping to come.

It made all the difference, we got off to a flying start after that but before that recruitment was very slow. Advertising in Art magazines didn't really do a great deal to push us off. We have run about 10 fortnight's a year in painting and sculpture ever since.

I'm doing a lot of carving now. It is so much easier to carve while one is teaching. Students need a lot of looking after and I was constantly interrupted by student’s needs. As a carver all one need do is put down ones tools. As a modeller one needs to cover the clay to stop it drying out. I managed to get quite a lot done as a carver. The Verrocchio website and my own will show you what's going on here.

There is great convenience in living abroad it gives one a lot of extra time; fewer friends, of course, my Italian is not up to much so I have more time to myself for my work. I have been very prolific as a sculptor and now at the age of 87 my catalogue has topped 700 pieces, some of them are quite big and many of them are dotted around this Village. I sometimes wonder how an Italian living in the same size Village would fare in Britain, I'm quite certain he would not have 7 sculptures displayed and floodlit at night. Altogether the village has been very friendly and it's a huge support to the business. Italians value art, they know they are good at it.

When I first came to look for a place to run courses I had looked in the country thinking that only there I would find a barn big enough to run sculpture courses however Italian villages often have the kind of Tythe Barn that I found. It once belonged to a count for keeping his share of the crop from his 92 farms. Naturally half the crop took a great deal of space. I bought it from an agricultural cooperative, The same peasants who once share cropped for the Count had formed a cooperative when land reform finally hit italy in the sixties, they had never used the barn because access with modern farm vehicles was near impossible.

Rumour has it that land reform was engineered by the CIA who were alarmed at the speed with which communism was advancing here. Italy cast off feudalism hundreds of years after Britain; but amazingly much more thoroughly than Britain. I am constantly delighted to observe that class consciousness is far less powerful a force here than in Britain.

The conversion took an enormous amount of time and effort and of course many things went wrong including the budget that more or less doubled. Nonetheless, after 2 years we had something like a simple hostel with kitchen and studios. I had had a very large studio by London standards that was entirely full of sculpture after 26 years in it and by the time I left I was spending nearly all my time trying to earn a living rather than using it. Here I had an amazing studio space, less sculpture to put in it, and more time to work in it. I have never regretted my move to Italy. Dr Johnson told us that when one is tired of London one is tired of life; on the contrary I have found life here much more rewarding in fact rejuvenating.

I had enjoyed carving as a student but I never liked the results. We all knew how Michelangelo worked but he was a genius we were told, you have to work by walking round the stone cutting off bits much the reverse of modelling; it does not work. Michelangelo worked from the front only pushing back into the stone and creating an arm for instance, almost finished and of a particular size in order to be able to understand exactly what scale of figure one was able to get in the stone. This is vital, nearly always one overestimates the size and if you're walking around dwindling the figure you lose all the movement as it shrinks. Michelangelo’s method is by far the best. We call it Michelangelo's method but in fact every Italian sculptor who knows what he's doing uses this method because it works.

Materials are very easy to find round here; there's an alabaster quarry about 3 miles away and we used to go there for stone. The man on the bulldozer was a delight in himself. His hobby was training dogs for hunting, now long retired and the quarry is closed alas. I had not carved since being a student but in helping students I realised it was a very pleasant activity in the sun. So I got some alabaster for myself and allowed myself to use Michelangelo's method for the first time; it was a revelation; by amazing chance I had not even finished my first carving when a German tourist walked by and bought it. We called her Elsa. This good luck certainly pushed me on my way but did not repeat itself for many years until I sold a large Mother and Child to an American paediatric doctor, also just passing by.

This place is a sculptors paradise. Now I am working on a fairly small scale simply because I don't like lifting heavy objects. With modern scanning equipment one can enlarge in any material remarkably cheaply compared with the old manual methods. Clay was also available from a brickworks no more than a mile away and plaster is being created from gesso mined round the corner. Add Italy’s history in art and no wonder this is the centre of the world for sculptors.

I do not weld myself but my next door neighbour does. Local people are used to the dust and noise created by sculpture so there's never a complaint. The village is a huge asset the people are friendly and there's an amazing amount of activity for entertainment during the summer. The village has 960 permanent residents. The number of concerts, dances, rock concerts and exhibitions they put on is quite amazing. We have no less than 4 bars 3 restaurants and a bistro that also does food. The views are amazing and the village itself very picturesque. A painter does not have to walk more than 10 yards before setting up his or her easel. There is enough space in the studios for about 20 people; all was well till this Corona virus struck. Let us hope it's under control as soon as possible.

An amazing synchronicity, as I finish my chapter on the first years at Verrocchio a very old friend rang up, old in the sense that I have not heard a word from him for 35 years or so. He spent more than a year here and built the spiral stairs, even digging the hole for them. We argued every step of the way but I am very pleased with the outcome. In fact I did the upper tile-work that looks like bricks, while he was away at the Venice carnival dressed as Akernaton with an enormous mask practically down to his navel. Kenton was an American architect who wanted hands-on experience and he got it. It was really nice of him to ring. Italy leads Europe in cases of the virus and we are all locked-down, meaning that we cannot leave the territory of Casole without a form containing a good excuse and permission! A big fine if you try anything on. I am glad the government is being so draconian, only worried that Italians are not used to obeying laws. Kenton was worried about me after 35 years. Sweet of him, he seems to be very successful in Sweden, manufacturing well insulated houses, three times better insulated than the stone I live in. Our winters are milder of course.

I got his message by chance as I am not really up to facebook and the like. I must have pressed the wrong button by mistake and there was a message from him only 5 days old; all I had to do was press another button and his phone started ringing. I am a realist who does not really believe in things like synchronicity but it does keep happening. A girl friend insisted on getting my chart read by her special astrologer. Apparantly I am a triple fire sign, very rare, also, God loves me, though I don't believe in him, I accept that I am lucky. Another astrologer told me I was particularly lucky with property. Yes I am, do you own a very big house? Yes in fact three. Is one of them abroad? At the time, no but look at me now - an enormous house abroad which I was able to buy by selling a cottage for which I had paid £250 in 1961. My stars are more attentive to me than I am to them.

My present ambition is to run an Artists’ Community here throughout the year. That is fewer people but for longer to cut down on the chances of infection. Open to anyone interested in the arts, musicians, poets etc. All are welcome. I will be offering courses in Revolutionary Art History as well as sculpture and drawing. We will have visiting painters and sculptors. Caro, who has been here for over 20 years, as a permanent teacher of painting.

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