Italian Stone Appreciation, Implications from the 2016 Exhibition
The recent AIAS convention and congress held in the northern Italian community of Bodeno illustrates the continued growth and maturity of the Italian stone appreciation community under the leadership of its president Luciana Queirolo. Since the establishment of the Italian Association of Suiseki Lovers (Associazione Italiana Amatori Suiseki) in 1997, the society has successfully promoted stone appreciation within Italy and gained international recognition for the high quality viewing stones found throughout this country. Vito De Veneres was the first president of the AIAS for three years. Then, in 2001 Mrs. Luciana Queirolo was elected to lead the organization and has remained as president since. It is under her leadership that the AIAS and an active stone appreciation culture have prospered in Italy.
left, Mrs. Luciana Queirolo, President of AIAS; right, meeting of AIAS members at convention and exhibition.
The awareness of stone appreciation followed the introduction and establishment of bonsai in Europe and other western countries. The translation and publication of the Japanese Art of Suiseki by Vincent Covello and Yuji Yoshimura (L’arte del suiseki) in 1994 provided the developing community of Italian stone lovers with detailed guidelines. The discovery of the fascinating and beautiful Palombino limestone pieces from Liguria propelled a rapid growth of collectors and new stone aficionados. The majestic Palombino landscape stones from Liguria rapidly became known not only in Italy but throughout the world. The annual AIAS convention and exhibitions served as a venue for these stones to be displayed. President Queirolo used these annual meetings to help educate members, sometimes with the presence of guest speakers. Mrs. Queirolo followed the Japanese stone appreciation guidelines which led to the use of bases, display tables and other accessories to develop elegant and artistically beautiful display of stones at their conventions.
Members of the AIAS have been encouraged to search for nice stones from other regions of Italy. As a result, many fine stones are being collected and displayed as evidenced by the recent convention. Presently, many excellent stones are being found in the northern regions of Veneto, Emila-Romagna and Lombardy and in the central region of Tuscany. The southern regions of Apulia and Campania are yielding good viewing stones. This year, the Italian chrysanthemum flower stones was found in Veneto and exhibited by Santo Burrato. Interesting pattern stones and beautiful figure stones add diversity to the types of stones being displayed.
Fortunately, the AIAS leadership permits the display of non-Italian stones in their annual exhibitions; thus giving the event more of an international flavor. This is appropriate as we recognize that Italian stone appreciation has come of age and now plays an important role in the international stone appreciation community. A striking Chinese Taihu was displayed, along with stones from Vietnam and Korea. AIAS Secretary Daniela Schifano exhibited a beautiful Japanese Saji River stone in a tray with sand. Mrs. Schifano presented two programs at the 2016 convention, both related to the display of Japanese stones.
The Italian stone community is fortunate to have talented native artists and craftsmen who are supporting the growing stone appreciation community in Italy. Mr. Sergio Biagi is a master wood worker who makes a wide range of outstanding display tables for both the bonsai and stone communities. He makes traditional Japanese style tables and more contemporary styles. To learn more about his work, visit his Facebook page at www.facebook.com/sergiobiagi. Mr. Andrea Terinazzi, an accomplished artist working in bronze castings make a wide range of exceptional accessories items to use when displaying a stone or bonsai. The details and proportions of his tempai are extraordinary. His Facebook page is www.facebook.com/andreaterinazzi. Terinazzi also provides small companion plants for use in displays. The availability of excellent local display tables and accessories not only supports the Italian stone community, but saves them the time and expense of importing these items from Japan.
Mrs. Queirolo has done an exceptional job of leading the AIAS for the last 16 years. She and the other officers deserve credit for the growth of stone appreciation in Italy and for the high quality of their annual exhibitions.