Thursday 19 February 2015

Art in nature in the Dolomites

A sculpture park with a difference - sculptures that biodegrade - is a hidden gem tucked away in a high, remote area of Italy's Dolomite mountains.

Getting there requires some determination and faith - there's a long drive along very narrow twisting, unsigned mountain roads - but all is forgiven when you reach this extraordinarily beautiful place. 

Artesella is an exhibition of art in nature in the woods of the Sella valley,Val di Sella, about 40 km from Trento in the South Tyrol.

Roger Rigorth, Drago, 2013

Several hundred international artists from around the world have come here since the 1980s to create artworks from materials found in the forest.

Anton Schaller, Rifugio, 2011

Works appear randomly along a 3 km walking route, called ArteNatura, through the forest. 

Each one is intended to express a relationship with nature. All are made of stones, leaves, branches and other organic materials collected in the surrounding Alpine forest.

Sally Matthews, Cervi/Deer, 2014

The idea is that they will ultimately naturally degrade into the landscape: 
'the works come out of the landscape, they inhabit it and,according to nature's timescale, they return to it again', according to Artesella's manifesto.

Aeneas Wilder, no title

In the summer, Artesella also thrives as a cultural centre - there's a natural amphitheatre in a clearing where outdoor concerts and theatre performances are held in this incredible mountain setting.

Alfio Bonnano, Chiocciola/Snail, 2012

Steven Siegel, Bridge II, 2009 - made entirely of old newspapers

Patrick Dougherty Tana Libera Tutti, 2011, bottom right

The largest-scale and most impressive work is the Cattedrale Vegetale, tree cathedral, created by Italian artist Giuliano Mauri in 2001. 

Giuliano Mauri, Cattedrale Vegetale, 2011

Over 3000 branches have been twisted and woven into naves and columns. In time the hornbeam trees planted within each column will replace the supporting log structure as it rots away and dies, preserving the shape of the cathedral.

I took these photos on a visit in September last year in early autumn. Since the works decay and disappear over time, the curators recognise the importance of keeping a photographic record, and this function has been taken on by a local, Aldo Fedele. This is one of his amazing pictures of the cathedral under snow, which makes me badly want to return to Artesella in the depths of winter ...  

Photo credit: Aldo Fedele

Artesella, Borgo Valsugana, Italy - making art in and with nature.


  1. Karen, without this post with your amazing photographs, I would not know of this place. I do note that most of the works you've shown us seem to have been created by male artists, with the aid of mother nature, of course.

    I love the winter cathedral. It does tell us all how nature's influence guided many architects over the centuries in their drawings and designs to be made from wood and stone.

    Truly an amazing place! Thank you. xo

  2. Astounding pictures of an astounding add to my list of wonderful places to visit -and there is no snow in sight!
    Looks bliss!


Related Posts with Thumbnails