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  • Writer's pictureGunnar Garfors

Apricale – The Address of Artists

Creative Commons photo by Villamania.

Italy isn’t very exotic, I thought. Don’t get me wrong, I have visited many times and I love the sceneries, the people and the food. And the wines aren’t too bad, with the possible exception of prosecco (I am not a big fan of sparkling wines made by the Charmat method). But exotic? It’s just Italy. It’s just down the road from Oslo. I mean, Northern Norway is further away the Norwegian capital than Italy.

Just a detail I photographed in Apricale.

But tiny Apricale sure proved me wrong. The mountain village in Liguria in Western Italy is a bit hidden on a narrow and winding mountain road 15 kilometers from the coast and a little bit less from France. The almost 600 people live in brick houses built literally on all sides of the top of a hill, almost 300 meters above sea level. It’s beautiful, no wonder that artists from around the world love it here. That includes Jorunn Mulen, my favourite artist (I have five of her paintings at home). And let me add a disclaimer, she is a friend of mine and we studied at the same college, Falmouth College of Arts, in the UK.

You cannot drive around Apricale, the alleyways are prohibitively narrow and steep for motorized vehicles. Which makes the village much more fun and interesting to explore by foot. Bring a camera. And chill in one of the small restaurants and bars in the village. Of course they are small, in Apricale everything is. Except the villagers’ hearts. Expect the warmest hospitality.

Jorunn is coincidentally opening a new exhibition 180 kilometers away, in Genova, and a lot of her work has been produced or thought out in Apricale, or has been inspired by people she has met in the village over the years.

“My exhibition is about parts of Daniele Noel Roux’s love story, and I met her in this very magical hilltop village,” Jorunn explains.

Daniele who?

Daniele in the 1960s. Archived photo copyrighted by Terence Donovan.

They met each other in Apricale and never looked back. Daniele lives and works in St. Paul De Vence in France where she and her husband Francois Roux runs the legendary hotel La Colombe D´Or. I suppose having had artists like Picasso, Matisse, Chagall, Calder and Cecar stay makes a hotel legendary. They visited in the 1940’s and 50’s when Daniele’s grandfather in law was hotelier. It is still a meeting place for artists and thinkers, groovers and shakers of the art world. Out of my budget, in other words.

Daniele was only 13 years old when she met her first love on the French Riviera in the 1950s. Her mother, a strictly catholic, unfortunately witnessed Daniele holding hands with a young man, and decided to send Daniele to convent school in England to put a stop to this forbidden young love.

Daniele, quite a rebel, was soon evicted from school. Why? She had convinced all her fellow pupils to have their hair cut short, like Daniele’s. By Daniele. She finished school elsewhere and went on to study in Oxford. On a trip to London she was stopped on the street by famous photographer Terence Donovan, and years of modelling and acting followed.

“My exhibition isn’t only inspired by Apricale, but also by conversations with Daniele and fragments of the love letters that she received from her first love. She told me about them and some of what they contained,” Jorunn explains.

What about the title of the exhibition?

Will I ever have enough blood to make your dreams blush?

“That was something Daniele’s first love wrote to her in a letter a few years after they first met, when they were no longer together. They just had to finish their story,” Jorunn explains.

The exhibition is showing December 6 – February 15 in Genova. See below for the poster.

Jorunn Mulen in Colombe D’Or trying to decide on what to drink. I mean, she’s an artist.

One of Jorunn Mulen’s paintings. She sells a lot in the US, Italy, the UK and Norway.

Daniele a bit more recently. In Apricale, of course.

Postcards, some of which feature Daniele. In Jorunn’s studio in Bergen, Norway.

The exhibition poster.

Jorunn and I. In Apricale, of course. Photo: Caroline Seville.

Apricale just before dusk.

And a few hours earlier.

The main square. Yes, it is a tiny village.

I told you the alleyways were narrow.

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