Last month I visited the tourist hot spot, Venice! It was every bit as magical as i’d imagined and visiting in November meant it was less crowded with people so I could really explore and experience this beautiful place. The main reason for my visit was to attend the Art Biennale; a huge scale art event, spread out over 2 main sites (Arsenale and Giardini), showcasing 120 invited artists, 86 National Participations as well as other associated events. There was A LOT to see! Of course along with the main Biennale I also wanted to find some traditional artisans; specialising in mask making and Murano glass production. As I was also keen to squeeze in a boat trip to the colourful island of Burano, I drank a lot of (delicious!) coffee to keep me going during the short 2 day visit!
-The ‘streets’ of Venice
Before I’d even checked in I stumbled upon a traditional mask making shop and studio in the Cannaregio district. Here they hand craft the traditional Venetian masks that are famous the world over, most notably in their use in masquerade balls. The master craftsman, Nico, let me take some photos of him at work and showed me around the shop, explaining that 80% were made in house. This place was a proper Aladdin’s cave of ornate masks and I was really pleased to have found it so soon into my visit, lady luck was on my side!
-The mask makers in Cannaregio
I spent the rest of the day exploring Venice, getting lost in all the winding streets and taking SO many photos of all the canals, buildings and gondolas! Everything was so beautiful, I felt like I was walking around a film set.
-Getting lost in Venice
A huge goosebump moment was seeing the installation titled; Support by artist Lorenzo Quinn which was in situ for the duration of the Biennale. The hands symbolise tools that can both destroy the world, but also have the capacity to save it. This statement appeared on the artists’ website and eloquently verbalises the visual connotations. Venice, a city built on water will slowly be lost if the current global warming crisis continues. Support highlights this need for change and acts as a call to action. It was breathtaking and definitely my favourite piece within the whole Biennale.
-‘Support’ by artist Lorenzo Quinn
Towards the end of the evening I walked into a colourful shop filled with creations made from Murano glass and as I looked around I was given a warm welcome by the owner and artist, whose name I have frustratingly forgotten. He was gracious enough to give me a demonstration and talk me through the process of glass sculpting and manipulation, using glass heated to extremely high temperatures. Once again I had managed to tick off another item from my list without trying! I finished the evening with pizza, strawberry tart and a bellini in my room while I planned the next days plan of action!
-Murano glass in Venice, Bellini time!
This was a beast of a day, I really managed to pack so so much in and by the end I was absolutely exhausted but oh so fulfilled! It began pretty early, I caught the 8.50am boat bus to the island of Burano and spent a couple of hours there, exploring and photographing the rainbow buildings in all their gloriousness! Check out my blog bite all about Burano here.
-Beautiful Burano and boat ride reflections
All too soon it was back to the boat, where I headed back to Venice and began the Art Biennale section of the trip! I’d already collected my tickets previously, so I headed straight for the main exhibition space in the Arsenale. It didn’t disappoint and was jam packed with Artwork from a wide range of artists, utilising a variety of mediums that guided you through the space, allowing for continual engagement the entire exhibition. It really was incredible to see so much work under one roof. So many questions, reactions, emotions and thoughts filled my head.
As I was on my own I could really move at my own pace and really enjoy it. I began by taking photos of the work and getting artist information but there was just so much that after a while I gave up, I didn’t want to run out of space and I didn’t want this process to hinder my experience! So, apologies that each photo is not giving a full itemised reference but with over 600 photos, I didn’t have the time or inclination to do so. If you are desperate to know more about a piece featured, drop me a message and i’ll see what I can find!
After the Arsenale warehouses it was off to the second site of the Biennale; the Giardini, this houses the pavilions and has a much more laid back feel, its all located in a garden space where you can easily walk between venues (each one created by the country it represents). To be included in the Giardini and have your county represented is a great honour, each Biennale a new country is invited to build a pavilion. At present there are now 83 and I thoroughly enjoyed wandering from one to another, stopping off for lunch and an aperol spritz on the way!
Each pavilion is different and I enjoyed trying to guess by the architecture which was which! My favourite was definitely the Korean, it was so full of colour and neon lights that it really captured a sense of place… and that was before going inside! All in all it was a great experience, however I was really wiped out by the end and if I return I would take 2 days to cover the two areas instead of cramming it all into one, as I found it to be a bit of a visual overload!
With my mind full and the light beginning to fade, I decided to walk back to Cannaregio, stopping at the Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute for the sunset before getting lost in the winding streets and finally re-entering familiar surroundings, where I stopped and bought some delicious looking sweets from one of the many patisseries.
–Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute, Venice patisserie
I ended my evening (and the trip!) with a meal at Zikiya, which I cannot recommend enough! I had the oysters and a mixed seafood spaghetti and can honestly say it was the best Italian seafood I’ve ever had! Then I returned to where I was staying to enjoy my desserts before I flew home the following morning! Arrivederci Venice – Until we meet again ❤️ ✈️
–Delicious food at Zikiya restaurant in Cannaregio, Venice