"La Strada, La Route, The Road"

National Museum of Molise, Italy

12 October to 12 January 2020,  Tues - Sun: 09.00 - 19.00

Yesterday I returned from an inspiring four-day visit to that part of Italy which I define as my ancestral homeland.   Sadly, it was also the site of horrific human conflict during the war in Italy in the years 1943 and 1944 between the combined Allied Forces of Britain and its Empire, the United States of America, Poland, and France and its colonies, against a well-prepared but under-resourced German Army defending what they defined as The Winter Line, stretching from the Mediterranean coast to that of the Adriatic, in the foothills of the Mainarde mountains, halfway between Rome and Naples.

I am indeed grateful to Deirdre MacKenna, as a fellow Italo-Scot, for her decision to present an exhibition which, for the first time, explores the experiences of my formative years in Scotland, leading up to and during World War Two, and their impact upon my approach to my work.

Deirdre MacKenna’s exhibition is entitled ‘La Strada, Le Route, The Road’.   It emphasises the fact that I have been obliged to live my life essentially as a European on the road taken by my Italian forebears which caused them to re-trace the footsteps of the Roman Legionaries whose function was to extend the Roman Empire to its furthermost north-western frontier, marked by a defensive wall built between the Rivers Forth and Clyde.  I am forever grateful to the international spirit of the Edinburgh Festival.   This inspired me to celebrate, through the language of all the arts, the distinctive European cultural heritage which has given to the United Kingdom, and particularly Scotland, a history with a clear Italian dimension.

Deirdre MacKenna chose wisely to place her exhibition in an historic building, now a National Museum, known as the 11th century ‘Castello Pandone’, located in the very heart of the small city of Venafro in the region of Molise, once, in the era of Cicero, the epicentre of the Roman Empire and the ancestral home to generations of Scots-Italians.

Richard Demarco, 0ctober 2019