Tuesday, February 15, 2011


Spolia.  I love the stuff.  Originally the latin term meant war booty or plunder, but in architectural terms it has come to mean the reuse of older building material.  It is everywhere in Rome.  Those mis-matched columns and capitals lining the naves of medieval basilicas came from an array of imperial era buildings.  That fountain basin was once a 2nd century AD sarcophagus.  The marble for the late 17th century fountain of the Acqua Paola on the Janiculum came from the Temple of Minerva that was in the Foro of Nerva.  Often while walking I will see an ionic volute, or a bit of  architrave in white marble peeking out amongst the other bits of rubble in a wall of unknown date.  For me it is myth and mystery made manifest.  How can I not be influenced?

Christopher Pelley "Volutes"  oil/canvas  100cm x120cm  2010

Christopher Pelley  "Ionic Volutes"  oil/canvas  100cm x 100cm  2010

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Mixed Feelings in NYC

Back in NYC this fall, it was very much about the upcoming 10th anniversary of 9/11 next year.  Has it been that long?  The gaping hole in the skyline is starting to be filled, but the memories and emotions are still fresh and raw.  Returning from Rome, I had to confront mixed feelings.  When in Rome, one always sees women from a variety of Catholic religious orders on the streets, their veils flowing as they jostle among the crowds.  It makes me smile; my heart is flooded with remembrances of parochial grade school.  Back in my Jackson Heights neighborhood in New York, I was shocked to witness the statistically significant uptick in the number of girls wearing the hijab and women in full burkas.  There is a shift in the 'hood.  Ganesha is giving way to the Quaran.  I was surprised by my reaction of shock mixed with a twinge of fear.  Why?  It's only drapery. 
Christopher Pelley  "Hijab"  oil/canvas  60"x66"  2010