The very first day that Nick and I drove into Cianciana with our architect and couchsurfing friend, Marilena, we knew that that we had found a special town. What we didn’t realize was how special it actually was…and still is. Cianciana has had, over the years, its share of the same difficulties that all Sicilian towns face – high unemployment, the world wide recession, young people leaving to find work elsewhere in Italy and around the world, disappearing language and, to a lesser extent, culture. But, in spite of all these ubiquitous problems, Cianciana has managed to stay a vibrant and exciting town and much of this has to do, I believe, with the amazing talents and commitment of its residents, both Ciancianesi and stranieri.
One of these people is our friend and contractor, Scott Thompson. Scott is the kind of guy with ‘big picture’ thinking. Devoted to his new home, I have heard Scott’s ideas both from him and others in Cianciana that show his passion for helping Cianciana become the best possible village that it can be. A while back, Scott came up with an idea to create an artists’ residency right in Cianciana and now, it seems, this vision is about to be realized.
I recently sent Scott an email asking him a few questions about Passareddu and here are the answers he shared with me. Who originally came up with the idea? How did the idea come about? The idea was mine originally but it has certainly grown since, I discovered art whilst living in Sicily, for the first time in my life I had the headspace to get creative and the surroundings to inspire. Sicily has one of the longest heritages of art in the world and attracts many artists from all over the world; it also grows more than its fair share of talent. This is why I wanted to create a place where artists can come together, work and tell their stories. What is your vision / mission statement? We would like to create an Eco-friendly and up-cycled environment where artists and “creatives” can come together to work, exhibit collaborate and find inspiration. We hope to integrate art and nature by creating gardens and agricultural parts, which everyone can come get involved in. What made you think about shipping containers? Well, shipping containers are in abundance and using them means we are re-cycling structures. They are also super flexible in that we can arrange them in various ways depending on the artists’ needs and as we grow we can adapt them. They are also really secure so people can leave equipment and art inside without worrying. We have some fantastic designs for how we want to convert them to make some great spaces. Was it difficult to get the town on side? The town were all for it from day one, getting them to put their hands in their pockets and support it financially is another matter, but they do see how it will be a great thing for the town. I mean lets face it art lover or not I think everyone can agree that art is an important and valuable part to culture. Who makes up your team and what do they bring to the table? Olivia is our president and a passionate amateur photographer; Marta is an educator and works with films and documentaries; Fabrizio is a talented film and documentary maker and produced our indiegogo movie; Hilary is a passionate artist and cook; David is a craftsman able to make pretty much anything; Dave is a talented illustrator and designer and has travelled the world; Clarette is passionate about agriculture and nature; and I (Scott), well, I love a rt and am a pretty passionate amateur artist but more than this I have great friends who share a dream that is Passareddu.
Imagine coming to create in such an idyllic setting. Imagine being part of this dream. To find out how to help go to the Passareddu Artists Residency indiegogo site. To find out more about the project go to the Passareddu webpage. And, as always, if you are looking for a place to stay in Cianciana, check out our Airbnb listing.