When this moment comes, in front of the white sheet, the first few lines are always the most difficult to write. Thoughts go in and out so fast that I don’t know how to stop them.
Have I been in Australia for real? I have some photos… but, what’s Photography? Is it really a trace of reality?
My University years come back to mind, when the debate about the controversial matter on the relation between reality and photography seemed endless, and it still is.
Susan Sontag said that photos are truthful because they look like something real, but at the same time they are fake because they can only be a resemblance of it. Yet, these photographs, tell me “that has been” .. and that’s all one needs.
I overcome the margins of these images, going beyond with my mind to all that moments which will remain forever as some sort of illusion, a soap’s bubble by vivid colors, the ones of the sea and eucalyptus woods, the ones of the Autumn’s evenings around a table and of the sunset’s pink light.
Sydney has showed up in the night like a big bright presence, like the promise of a faraway oasis, exotic and warm. Almost thirty hours of flight, of darkness and light, and then darkness again. Chiaroscuro.
And then, Anisa. A concentrate of energy, inspiration and talent in a little body with a big spirit.
Meeting her for the first time has been like meeting an old friend who is waiting from you at the airport, after the longest travel of your life. Literally.
I could write a post entirely about Anisa, about her light, incredible enthusiasm and sweetness, but I’ll just say that without her none of that it would have happened, and that for me is enough to be grateful until the end of my days.
The same goes to my beloved traveling and adventure companions, Francesco and Valentina, with whom I can’t get enough laughing to tears and feeling always so good just for having them close to me. Blessed is the day when they both appeared into my life.
The days before the workshop were like blurred contours of a very slow and relaxed time of a holiday among friends and everything that a big city like Sydney has to offer.
We explored Bondi beach and its surroundings, we felt like hipsters sipping coffee and eating avo toasts in many organic local Cafès (Shuk was my favorite!), we saw the Opera House from the ferryboat, walked along the main streets and dined in front of the most beautiful view of the city on the elegant rooftop terrace of the Restaurant Cafè Sydney. It was astonishing!
The day of the workshop has arrived soon, a couple of hours after Anisa’s reckless driving on a huge Range Rover (*I am kidding, darling! You’re the best driver!).. and our venue has appeared as a dream Villa over the hills. Bundara Farm, the queen of Berry.
Like in a movie set, the main characters started to stage the film. Our amazing precious staff was there to set up the whole scene:
Ryan, Anisa’s brilliant (and handsome, can I say it?!) husband, tireless helper and awesome host. We laughed so much and drank even more. He introduced us to Shiraz, an Australian incredible red wine that – and I’m quoting Anisa here – can only be described with a word: heaven! Also, he delighted us with an interesting cocktail classroom, on the Villa’s patio, at sunset, when the pink light made our glasses twinkle, toasting to the promise of a magic starry night.
Francesco, my safe island, who would even follow me to the other side of the world and always support me without hesitation. He worked by Ryan’s side 24 hours a day, boasting his best crazy english (at least as crazy as mine!) and strengthening his muscles carrying around tables, chairs, stack of plates and everything what needed to be done in the situation.
Megan, our dear helper with the most gentle manners I have ever seen, “our sweet mama” as Valentina said. When she saw I tired and jet-lagged, she even gave me vitamins! Her help was a blessing and with her watchful gaze no detail has been left to chance.
Lean, our stylist whose magic touch (and insane amount of props, plants and flowers) have turned every single corner and table of Bundara Farm into a daydream. I found in her a soul mate, a free spirit, and a woman whose passion shows how deep the love for her job is. She was pure and simple inspiration.
Alfie’s Kitchen’s guys, our caterers, who have been the true heros of the event.
Every recipe prepared by these geniuses was a kind of wonderful illuminating moment. I don’t think Bundara Farm’s kitchen has ever smelled so heavenly or it has seen such beautiful dishes before.
Also, they gave us some very precious tips about New Zealand (more on the next Post!), written on a Shiraz-stained piece of paper that still smells like that kitchen.. and that we’ll keep as Holy Grail and memory of this inspiring meeting!
Then, as soon as our guests have arrived, our chiaroscuro retreat finally went on stage and gave us its best moments.
All the months of planning, all the work Anisa has done to make this event possible, have been magically turned into a feast around the table, that place where our stories are shared and where food become a ritual that delights the soul.
Connections are often what make our lives special, and I am speaking directly to you, friends with whom we shared this experience: thanks from the bottom of my heart for having made this magic possible.
I found a learning experience in every one of you that I’ll keep as the most precious thing, and that is for me the greatest reward I can aspire to.
Words are not my favorite way to communicate, they have never been, and sometimes I wonder if that’s why Photography – and my need to control shades and celebrate light – is so essential in my life.
I guess that everyone of us has a little bit of chiaroscuro inside. I certainly have.. and when shadows get too dark and words start to disappear, it’s just time to be quiet, to say thanks with a deep bow and make room to the light of those days that we will never forget!
Our fabulous Attendees:
Tess @tess.godkin.food.photography | Samantha @thebotanicalkitchen | Tina @thebarefoothousewife | Gillian @gillianbellcake | Angela @its_apieceofcake | Helen @hungryandfussy | Anna @redbud22 | Lauren @loz_calvert | Brooke @brookezotti_designs | Varina @blighstbistro | James @howarth_and_co | Clare @avocadolovefood | Sarah @redladybird.wellness | Farhana
A very special thanks to super-talented sweet Flore of The Flo Show – @the.flo.show, who made this poetic (and so #chiaroscuro!) video of me doing my styling lesson! Turn on the sound, and tell me…isn’t it marvelous?