I thought I'd concentrate this post on the Niki de Saint Phalle Tarot Gardens because that was my absolute favorite place we visited. But you can see the rest of our Italy photos here too!
The Niki gardens are set in rural Italy just north of Rome. As you approach you pass by sheep and farm animals out in pastures grazing. I loved that as you get closer and closer you can see the juxtaposition of Niki's modern art and the rural country side.
When we first got to the gardens I knew they would be wonderful, but I had no idea just how incredible they would be! Just about every sculpture is interactive in some way. They have stairs and doors and nooks you can sit and hide in. There is writing on many of the scultpures, one was a love letter to her husband that made me cry!
One of the structures (above) Niki created as her own house to live in while she finished the garden. The inside of the house is covered entirely in mirrored mosaics. EVERY SINGLE surface, including the fridge and the oven, the dishwasher and the fireplace and the toilet too!! It is like nothing I have ever seen before, it sounds horrible and gaudy, but it was beautiful.
Another structure/sculpture. This one had two levels so you could run up and down stairs and see amazing views of the countryside.
This is the inside courtyard of the structure that was pictured above.
This sculpture is the first one you see as you walk up the path to the Tarot Garden. It's a waterfall and has kinetic sculptures in the base of the waterfall. it also has stairs going up the side, but we weren't allowed to climb on those.
Paul and I in the garden
And another fountain.... this one was unfinished. You can see the walls around the fountain were not completed.
The surfaces and mosaic tiles were created specifically for each sculpture. The tiles were sculpted right on the armature then taken off and fired and then put back on. I can't even begin to describe the detail. I am still in awe at the scale of the project. Sadly Niki died in 2002 before she was able to finish the garden. So many of the sculptures remain unfinished.
The visit to the gardens was such a magical experience. I bought a few of Niki's books about her life with husband and I can't wait to buy more books about her. She was a kooky lady with an amazing vision and it's a treat to read her writing and see her artwork!
to answer you question on my blog about the fabric used for the crayon portfolio, it was made by a company called the piggy story. they have a website online you can check out. lots of cute little artist supplies.