Wednesday, 7 January 2009

CITY OF ILLUSION

Our last day in La Serenissima...

Click on images to enlarge


"VENICE is not something one can
explain
.
You need to see it,
feel it,

and experience it..."

- Massimo Cacciari
(Former Mayor of Venice)

Indeed, as hundreds of writers, artists - and photographers - have demonstrated, attempting to convey that experience is anything but easy...

Simply put, Venice is a mystery and that mysteriousness stems, first and foremost, from the fact that this entire city of stone - with it's majestic churches, towers, domes and vast, encrusted, palaces - is floating, like some conjuror's illusion, on water...


And, to the visitor - but, perhaps, no longer to those who live here - it is that sense of the illusory that continues to dazzle and entice...

Appearing and disappearing in the drifting, swirling mists...


Flashing and glistening in the last, long, lingering rays of sunset...


Haunting, ghost-like, the moonlit Piazza...


Reflected in the silvered mirror-waters of night canals...


Lurking amongst the foldings of ancient carvings...


Stalking the long, narrow, shadow-filled calli...


And hiding, always, behind the eyeless, pallid faces of those ubiquitous Venetian masks...



Above all else, it is this timeless, unchanging, mysteriousness that makes it so very hard to leave Venice and return to what we call reality...

As Charles Dickens wrote, after departing from here...

"I have, many and many a time,
thought since,
of this strange
Dream upon the water
:

half-wondering if it lie there yet,
and if its name be
VENICE..."



***

And a Last Chance Reminder...

If you missed my two-part Radio 2 tribute to the late Bill Cotton, Showman and Starmarker - the man who, for several decades, shaped the look of British television - that you've just a few hours left to 'listen again' to the first of these two one-hour documentaries and two days to hear the second episode.

Fellow blogger, Good Dog, wrote of the BBC's TV and Radio tributes to Bill Cotton...

Back in August of last year, when Sir Bill Cotton died, I mentioned how surprised I was that, while the broadsheet obituaries celebrated his formidable career as the BBC’s Head of Light Entertainment, Controller of BBC1 and Managing Director of Television up until his retirement in 1987, his passing seemed to go virtually unnoticed on television.

Finally, on Boxing Day, BBC2 broadcast the belated tribute,
The Man Who Made Eric & Ernie. The problem was that it was only one hour long, concentrating on his work in light entertainment. Then most of the running time was spent on a comparatively narrow selection of the programmes, which coincidentally followed afterwards to fill the evening schedule, rather than Bill Cotton himself. Like Grant Tinker at MTM, Cotton understood that the best thing to do was to hire the best talent he could and let them get on with it.

It may simply have been that some useless suit at the Corporation decided it would be rather embarrassing to compare the accessible BBC of Bill Cotton’s day to the management-choked broadcaster of today. So instead clips replaced any context the show failed to live up to its potential.

Bizarrely, as it turned out the best salute to Cotton was the two-part, Brian Sibley-scripted Showman and Star-Maker: a Tribute to Bill Cotton, broadcast on BBC Radio 2 over consecutive evenings from New Year’s Eve. That the best celebration of Bill Cotton’s genius in television had to appear on the radio only went to show how f***** up things have become.


With a recommendation like that, how can you ignore a chance to tune into those programmes?! To do so, click on the following link to the BBC Radio 2 iPlayer.

Images: Brian Sibley & David Weeks © 2006/9

For more Venice imagery, visit my website to view the album Venice Observed and then follow the links at the foot of that page to three further albums of photographs.

5 comments:

Sheila said...

Congratulations to you and David for a wonderful series of pbotos, Brian and thanks for sharing them with us. I hope you're feeling well enough to make the most of your last day there. Have a safe journey home - you'll find it's cold here too!

Flousebi: The prospect of unwanted post, washing and umpteen emails which face the traveller on return home. This is offset by (mostly) happy memories of their travel experiences.

Brian Sibley said...

Thanks, SHEILA; it's been an interesting visit: as always, we've seen things we've missed or overlooked before (including, this time, rather too much scrutiny of the interior of the Ospidale!) and have renewed old friendships with people and places.

With the Pound/Euro at an appalling exchange rate it's been expensive (and Venice is, already, an expensive city) but we've self-catered as we've never done before which has meant that Mr Weeks' under-used (but considerable) culinary flair has flourished as it doesn't get much of a chance to do at home...

We both know that - unless our fortunes take a dramatic turn for the better - this is our last visit for some time to come, which feels (if you'll pardon the hyperbole) a bit like facing a bereavement. But, one day...

LisaH said...

But you could do the most wonderful book on Venice - full of an abundance of exceptional photos, information and anecdotes - and it would help fund future trips there.

Brian Sibley said...

Well, it's funny you should say that, LISAH...

As it happens, I do have an idea for a book I'd like to write; the trouble is - as you know all too well - it's not writing the book that's so difficult, it's finding someone to PUBLISH it!

Anonymous said...

I would have thought there was a market for a coffee table book of the wonderful Weeks/Sibley Venice photo portfolio but then I suppose there are too many photographers seduced by the same subjects.
FAINGLUC: the reluctance to drain a glass in one in case one's jaw dislocates.
(I won't send you any jokes for a while in case you yawn!)

Roger O B....