0317: Walking around Florence


The visual delights of Florence are legendary – the Duomo, Ponte Vecchio, Piazza della Signoria, etc. The artwork, both inside the many museums and outside in the many piazzas, are certainly an eyeful. But so too is almost every small side street. Graffiti and street art is often clever and thoughtful (There is also, unfortunately, plenty of awful spray paint graffiti).IMG_9372_01_LR_12

Turning a corner might yield the sight of a Renaissance mural juxtaposed against modern life. Peeking in a window near the Duomo shows a workshop where artisans keep up centuries old traditions.


A stroll through a graveyard (San Miniato al Monte) showed unique headstones…


…and a most interesting crypt.


And then there is a very clever artist (or artists) at work who turns simple traffic signs into amusing and sometimes provocative statements…


…little visual asides that you catch out of the corner of your eye…


…but linger in your head…


…along with a smile lingering on your face!




I had to include some fossils today, so I thought this little selection would work nicely.


These are gastropods from the fossil collection of the Paleontology section of the Florence Museum of Natural History.


They relate to an upcoming exhibition that will open at the museum in May. More on that as the date approaches.




I did manage to take a break from working all of my Florence files to come up with something new at the studio. Ironically, new shooting began with my Moroccan trilobite (above) which I found in a Florence flea market! And, below, something I brought back from a walk in the woods yesterday.


Thanks for the visit.

1121: Textured


This small group of Pliocene fossils, found while in Tuscany, continue to capture my attention. I have already shot them a number of times and they still seem to have more to give.




I’ve been adding to my “backgrounds” collection. So, now along with piles of rocks surrounding my studio, I’m developing a pile of rust scraps and other odd assorted items that I can turn to when in need of a different backdrop for certain fossils.

And thanks to a few days of good weather I’ve finally returned to old ways and managed to get out and dig for new treasure – also a perfect time to break out the new backgrounds.




This trace fossil came with its own textured background. I was out the other day on a hike with my friend and neighbor, Harry, when he discovered this rock in a heavily quarried area. Too big to carry back to the studio, so it was shot on site. Those curved lines are the result of a burrowing animal looking for food 385 million years ago.


IMG_5745_01_LR_10Back at the studio,with a fresh bag of fossils, I found myself pulling out all kinds of props, trying to see what might work best with them. From there pictures began to unfold.


IMG_5651_01_LR_10Out came my favorite prop, the erstwhile Devonian Drawer, this time sans Devonian, and used with an odd but intriguing antique object. Thanks, Lenny. If you really miss it you can have it back!


IMG_5631_01_LR_12One of the Italian fossils sits comfortably (lower right) with some animal bones.




I’ll finish today with some contemporary Roman textures.


The walls there seem to have stories to tell.


IMG_4709_01_LR_12Thanks for visiting.

More images at www.artmurphy.com

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1024: Halloween to da Vinci


At the end of a long corridor at La Specola, at the entrance to rooms full of anatomical waxworks, this skeleton greets all visitors. An appropriate image, I thought, with Halloween just around the corner. La Specola, one of six sections that cumulatively comprise the Florence Museum of Natural History, is world famous for the waxworks and, while immensely fascinating, is not for the squeamish!




But it turns out that La Specola is so much more. It deals with the broader subject of Zoology. Opened in 1775, it is the oldest scientific museum in Europe. I’ll have much more in future posts.





The Botany Section, in which I was also allowed to photograph, is another wonder to behold. Not only does it contain an herbaria containing more than 225,000 dried plant specimens, it also houses endless cabinetry filled with plant seeds and samples in glass-stoppered bottles and vials. Here are a couple of examples:






“Oculistico”, one of many street scenes I focused on, seems to have an undercurrent – and not an entirely pleasant one at that. What makes it so? Maybe it’s the sunglasses.



Two more street scenes from Rome. Ancient buildings in the heart of the city – one with Roman artifacts strewn about all around it – and the other with motorbike parked out front.





And here are two more from my Street Shrines series – in this case both from Rome.





During our trip Cindy and I were constantly amazed and gratified by the treatment we received. Everyone we met was so very willing to extend themselves and help insure a memorable experience for both of us. One example was a wonderful day in the Tuscan countryside with Dr. Elisabetta Cioppi and Dr. Stefano Dominici, the two people to whom I owe such a huge debt of gratitude. It was they who were responsible for my exhibition. We managed to visit two fossil sites, the first of which was across the vineyard seen above. The cut in the distance, and the dirt road leading to it looked like this:


I’ve never seen such density – fossils crackling underfoot like walking on popcorn! A hillside full of these Pliocene fossils (app. 3 million years old).




I managed to bring a small bagful home to my studio where I have had some time to explore. These are a few of the resulting images.






And finally, during that day in the countryside, Elisabetta took us to the little town of Vinci (as in Leonardo da ___). We toured the da Vinci Museum and then visited his birthplace. Turns out that in his youth he became familiar with these same fossils, part of his insatiable curiosity that eventually led to his greater understanding of geology and earth processes.



My recent fascination with “character-laden” trees did not abate while in Italy. There was a great deal to choose from, especially this one special tree that resides in the courtyard of da Vinci’s birthplace.


Thanks for visiting.

More images at www.artmurphy.com

Subscribe at my homepage artandfossils.wordpress.com

1017: Back from Italy


Just got home the night before last after spending four wonderful weeks in Italy. I’ll have much to show and discuss about the trip in coming weeks – especially all the events surrounding my show at the Museum of Natural History in Florence. For now, though, I chose to put together an eclectic mix from a partial first edit – ones that jumped out at me for whatever reason.

The image above was actually done here yesterday. I came back with some Pliocene fossils we found on a trip in the country with my friends Elisabetta and Stefano. Here one sits on a rusted old pot that I found in the same field.


In no particular order, here are some images from the trip:


Street Lamp, Florence


IMG_4052_01_LR_12Country Church, Tuscany



Fish, La Specola, Florence

Most people equate La Specola with their anatomical waxworks but there is so much more. These are a couple from their Fish Collection.




Near Spoleto






Two views of the same little castle town in Umbria – one from above, the other from below.




Empty Studio, Florence



Public Garage, Spoleto






St. Sebastian, Florence



Graffiti, Rome


Much more to come.

Thanks for visiting.

More images at www.artmurphy.com

Subscribe at my homepage artandfossils.wordpress.com