Laboratorio a Villa Brandi #EternoPresente

(Testo in Italiano sotto) On Oct 17th the Siena Art Institute organized a story-telling workshop for children in collaboration with the Pinacoteca Nazionale Museum of Siena. The kids were captivated in an experience of narrating images searching for details at Villa Brandi and the surrounding garden, telling the history of the villa and the experience of the visit.

Our intern Aurora shares her experience in the post below (the photographs were made by the children during the workshop).


Il 17 ottobre 2020 il Siena Art Institute ha organizzato un laboratorio di “Storytelling” per bambini in collaborazione con la Pinacoteca Nazionale di Siena all’interno del progetto “Eterno Presente”.
I ragazzi si sono cimentati in un’esperienza di narrazione per immagini alla ricerca di particolari di Villa Brandi e del giardino che raccontassero la storia della villa e l’esperienza della visita.

La nostra tirocinante Aurora racconta l’esperienza nel suo post (Le immagini sono state scattate dai bambini durante il laboratorio):

October 17th, a Saturday morning, the fog was so thick it could be cut with a butter knife, and it embraced Busseto Street winding its way up to the height of Villa Brandi, covering everything with a cold and impalpable blanket.

Since my childhood, I’ve never loved fog: I perceived it as something unusual, something odd that sparked my curiosity; but the feeling of being totally blind, that feeling which grew having dived into that grey blanket, shot inside my veins an odd and annoying sensation of anxiety. I’ve always thought that there is something quite frustrating only being able to see what’s immediately in front of you; and I guess it was the same sensation felt by all the children who came to Villa Brandi with their parents that morning. At the beginning, they were as disorientated as me but, at the same time, they were also full of that childish sparkling and vital curiosity. Becoming a kid again, I entered with them into a microcosm made of art and nature, isolated from the city but also just steps away from it, like an absurd character jumping from one of Mirò’s canvases into Monet’s water-lilies.

After a brief guided tour through the mansion, where children felt part of the environment they would explore a few moments later, the Siena Art Institute’s instructors Jeff Shapiro and Jackie Tune skillfully created their own new dimension inside an ex-wine vault, a room where they cozily welcomed the little audience. From the adults’ world, gathered in a distancing circle outside the room, talking about DPCMs, coronavirus and adults’ topics, the cittini dove into a universe of storytelling and fun, animated by short and interesting videos explained by Jeff and Jackie, showing them various points of view: 

  • an eagle whose wings are cleaving clouds.
  • two snails embracing and cuddling each other.
  • Tom and Jerry, seeming to be the main characters of our reality until they run behind a skyscraper that’s actually a shy chair.

One of the best tactics to draw children into an oniric world and make them feel interested is creating atmosphere while introducing an activity: their tiny, constantly-evolving minds feed on dreams. The signs of fulfilling this purpose are the light sparkling in their eyes, the interest with which they answer various kinds of questions -also easy ones- and their effort finding the correct words exploring their almost empty lexicon.

“They’re nim… min… minuscule!” said with a very tiny voice a little girl pointing at two little ladybugs in a video.

After Jeff and Jackie’s basic explanations about storytelling, the next step was to explore every single corner of Villa Brandi, looking for shootable foreshortening, as they were telling lots of stories.

Becoming a kid again, all my body was scoured by an incredible itching as I thought to throw off my bag and my dad’s adult-like denim jacket to enjoy the adventure of the others and discover what I would find out; and so helping Samuel, a very curious and cute adventurer, was sooo amazing. We became cats and then beetles, haunting the fastest lizards of the mansion; then we changed by morphing into feathery magpies attracted by sparkling fragments of glass and by the dew on the grass; we looked into the darkness inside wells and crevices, the blinding sunlight beyond the leaves of a tree and also the shadow spots beneath a pergola; we also found out that a furrow on the ground could be as interesting as a snail’s shell rooted on a wall kissed by rays of sunlight.

Play, nature, art: three key ingredients composing the recipe for narrating a charming story, perfect for the amusement of children and adults and also able to create a non-stop exchange between those two worlds, everlastingly linked to each other like a rainbow-scaled ouroboros; but two worlds which are often forced to be divided.

How many times have you heard these words: “You can’t do it, you’re too young!”

So, thinking back to my childhood, I’ve finally realized that, when they told me that, it would have been better if I answered back in this way, “Ah-ah! You can’t do what I’m doing right now anymore, ‘cause you’re too old!”

Aurora Angiolini


Hi! My name is Aurora. My Contrada is the Istrice and, obviously, I’m from Siena. I was born here, in this breathtaking medieval city, and I’ve also decided to attend university in Siena: I’m studying at the University for Foreigners of Siena, where my studies include English, Chinese and other courses about the history and structure of languages, but also History, Art History, Geography, etc.

I really love every kind of art, especially painting, writing and also cinema (I draw and paint on canvas and silk in my spare time; I also love writing -I have some work-in-progress), and this is the reason why I chose to do my internship here at SART!

#EternoPresente #Mibact #direzionemuseitoscana #museitaliani #ItalianMuseum #visittuscany #regionetoscana #pinacotecanazionalesiena

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