In July I posted a blog Noble Knights And Spirit Of The Ancestors where I mentioned an artist whom I adore for his colorful personality and versatile talents – Marco Ferrari from a charming town of Arona on lake Maggiore, Novara. Marco kindly agreed to answer a few questions and gave me permission to use his photographs in this blog post. I will link them to his Flickr page so that you can find more images: you will love them! None of us is a great translator, but I really hope it works 🙂
All of the images in this blog post courtesy of Marco Ferrari.
Arona is a gem of a town nested at the edge of Lake Maggiore. There is always something going on: Music and sport festivals, tournaments, pageants and parades, theatrical performances and concerts. The slopes of the surrounding mountains are covered with dense forests, and magic is in the air.
What was it like to grow up in Arona?
Not only in Arona but also in Milan. Let’s say that I have been imprinted to Arona, but from age 6 to 14 I lived in Milan, and that definitely has made my vision a little wider than if I had remained where I was born. When I came back I had to build relationships with my new friends, and although it had been a little dramatic at that time, but at the end it was a positive change.
I have very little memories of the first 6 years, while living in the big city I remember having complex interactions with friends at school. However, we would come to Arona to visit on weekends and holidays. At that time I also had a rather stern grandmother who forced me to take an odious “nap” in the afternoon, but since I’ve always been the one who needs to do something to keep his mind active, while the grandparents were sleeping I escaped falling from the balcony of the first floor through an iron arbor. Long live freedom! 🙂
Is there anything that makes Arona special?
Arona is definitely a beautiful town overlooking the lake and the landscape-wise doesn’t have to envy any other places in the world. It is also a holiday resort, but surely it is still one of the many places on this planet, and the bond we have I can not explain, I just know that if I think of home I think of Arona. However I like to travel and during my travels I have found another place where I felt like I were right at home: in the area of Wiltshire in England. It might make you smile but it is so, and I cannot explain why.
And travel he does! Look at this rope bridge. Can you recognize it ? Marco has crossed it in 1996, and it was a much more dangerous place back then 🙂
Marco has also traveled a lot in his own land. The mountains surrounding Lake Maggiore have a “fantasy” look for sure.
Lago di Campliccioli. It is a place where Gandalf could have settled 🙂
I know you as a Gandalf for a good couple of years. Have you always been a Gandalf? 🙂
It could be …:-) or may be through many “lives” we are growing in experience and then there is a transformation.
Through your life you can live many “lives”, in accordance as I said, with your changing experience and understanding. Brain structure is changing physically, so it is a proof that you can become a different person. But apart from these scientific considerations, since my childhood I have always been fascinated with science fiction and fantasy, and wherever I attended fan clubs and associations I was known by some as Alien, by some as William Wallace and by the others as Gandalf.
Your Alien looks so real and creepy that seeing him gives me goosebumps. Is there any special story related to his creation?
Certainly when I consider something, I do not do it at random. A character must have something to say, or have to explain what is not said.
In the case of the Alien, who I always interpret as somewhat ‘comic, there is a representation of our fears, especially fears of the unknown. Building it and making it live in a funny way might trigger the spring of reasoning that not everything that is scary is necessarily evil, and that it is fine, and do not be afraid of being affected by it. And then from the biological point of view, it is not different from the wasp (which also has an exoskeleton) that captures a caterpillar and lays an egg inside that once hatched will have food to continue their species. As dramatic as it is, there is nothing more than Nature.
As far as I know, for the creation of the Alien Marco was rewarded with a trip to the USA back in 1986.
Aircraft models and stage setups – do they have something in common?
I would say that they both share my need to create. Once it was a pure need to give physical form to the dreams, now it has become a more pragmatic requirement which I do with great difficulty and considerable ups and downs…
You have worked around many talented people.
Who has inspired you the most?
One of my passions is theater, and I have the opportunity to meet many interesting people who are good at their jobs whether they work on the stage or behind it, and from many I have learned something. One of the motto that I have is in reference to the style of karate (Shito Ryu) that I attended, namely: Outside of me, everything is my teacher.
I have met some “stars” thanks to Star Trek Italian club and other clubs: Star Wars, UFO etc.
When you look at Marco’s portraits you can see the very soul of these talented actors and musicians.
Have you ever influenced anybody’s art?
Once I happened to influence the art of someone, even that unintentionally. It was a girl, Sofia, she just graduated Conservatory in harp. I asked her what she had already composed, and she was a bit surprised and replied that she had never composed anything because it is too difficult. I must have made a strange face when I replied that I thought that studying notes was like studying letters, and once you have learned you can begin to compose the words and then phrases, but she told me that it was not so. After a few months I went to a concert to listen to the band where she plays and at one point the singer introduced a new piece saying that it was a new composition of Sofia. I was pleasantly surprised. After the concert she took me aside and told me that after my questions she felt so bad that she began composing.
Can you recall a funny story related to your work with actors?
It is difficult to name one because normally the actors are very imaginative and fun people. I happened to make the setting for a performance of the opera Bard Fortress, and in that show was a tenor, Philip Pina Castiglioni, a professional with an amazing voice. He found out that I had some ringtones on my cell phone from the films like Star Wars , Star Trek, Indiana Jones, etc. and he said he would love to have them. I set up the ringtones for him because he has always been fond of science fiction. Probably not a very funny anecdote, but I was also impressed that after a couple of years he had been looking for me in Linkedin to add to his friends. There are also the others that stunned me with their humanity and the fun chatting together – such as George Sewell, or Lorne Peterson, who is not an actor but certainly an important figure in the special effects area working for the Lucas film. Chatting with him was like being with a friend you have known forever. The one that won the Oscar for Indiana Jones certainly has not become haughty.
You find faces and creatures in the rocks, knotted tree trunks and clouds. What do you think, is it a common pareidolia or a message from the unseen, or..?
Mostly it is a pareidolia, the mind tends to see what it wants and gives things a meaning even when it does not exist. In Italian language, however, by a strange combination, the word “mente (mind)” also has another meaning, from the verb to lie; “la mente mente” = “the mind is not telling the truth”, a wordplay.
Here is an anecdote about these “faces”, about Bibracte, the hill in France where all the Celtic tribes or clans gathered by Vercingetorix to organize the final and desperate move against the Roman army. There is a popular legend that says that everyone who had fought and died in that battle would be returned to Bibracte at least in spirit. Now, there is sure a scientific reason, but I have never seen so many beech trees concentrated in so small an area with shapes so unusual and in many cases human-like. Are they not the 2000 years old plants, but the work of man? Message from the unseen, or ….? 🙂
Lago dei Cavalli dragon
What keeps you going when the times are tough?
Life is still hard, even if you’re lucky enough to live in an area of a relative affluence, where you do not die of hunger or thirst, and above all there is no war. From the moment you are born you have to decide whether to stay or leave the world, this is a common thought for all, could be the first instinct of survival, certainly. There are those who take refuge in their faith in God or in a “Man” perhaps because they need to believe in something, or they need someone to tell them what to do, perhaps because they do not believe or do not know that they only exist because they exist. As for me I do not know, maybe I am here for a reason, however small or great it can be, even if I have not managed to figure it out. Perhaps I am here in spite of that possible supernatural entity that is in charge of doing evil, and that the more he tries to crush me in the mud the more I want to prove that only I decide for myself, no matter what. Maybe it’s because I have to build the future and it will be even more interesting than I expect, unable to see.
Konrad Lorenz said that the more intelligent is a person, the more he trusts irrational; as far as I’m concerned I’d like to be that intelligent person .
We are a drop that is able to vibrate the ocean of the Universe, an energy point intrinsically and inextricably linked to everything that exists, even if we can not, or don’t want to see it.
Thank you, Marco! I wish you all the very best in your life!
Thank you for reading! Have a great weekend!