Scotland+Venice Diaries: Winter in Venice

Blog by Lauren McGhee | 22 Nov 2011

The temperature has dropped in Venice, and we've happily swapped ice creams for the best hot chocolates you could possibly imagine. An icy fog has descended over the spires of the Basilica and after dark, the red fog lights through the haze remind us of a certain excellent horror film we shall not mention here for the sake of our ability to sleep at night.  

Continuing to explore the Biennale at our leisure at this quieter time of year has been a great pleasure for us information assistants. Interestingly though, as I go from wandering around the complex labyrinth of now quiet streets in search of espressos, to actively seeking out the main pavilions, what I am most surprised by upon arriving at the Giardini is not the sudden confrontation with a perception shattering modern masterpiece; I am in fact happily stunned by the sudden grand expanse of greenery you are exposed to. (To put this into real terms for you, I have audibly squealed with excitement at the rare sight of trees as I arrive down there.)

Once inside the curated pavilion in the Giardini, there is, again, another curiously unexpected expanse of space to be confronted with; this time from within three Tintoretto paintings, newly restored for the occasion of this Biennale. With their newly bright colours and religious subject matter, the paintings have been a point of discussion amongst us all as to whether sixteenth century paintings have a place in a contemporary art exhibition, and whether within themselves they are actually even any good at all. With the Biennale's theme of IllumiNATIONS, their place is justified due to the weird otherworldly light within the paintings, which carves up the space and denotes heavenly beings half present within the room. I guess whether or not this reasoning stands up is too complex an argument to have in this blog; personally, I have been completely won over by Tintoretto's strangely modern, expressive style. The fact that the spaces within his paintings often look like completely awesome virtual spaces from video games is also pretty great.  

With the clocks turned back (the extra hour in a nice cosy bed was much appreciated by all in the pavilion!) it is often dark by the time I come to leave the Giardini. What more could you want for than to return back to the Pisani to sample your housemates' delicious culinary creations? Wintery soups and yummy fish stews are now on the menu, who says we're missing the Italian summer?!