Two beautiful Canadians, Kelsey and Renè walked into my Orvieto Gallery in mid October and looked attentively at the pictures both on the walls and in the racks. This is a good sign when I am looking out for women to model in my pictures. I introduced myself as the author, and we started chatting about the pictures. They were with a group of women on a yoga retreat and I felt that as they were wary of getting separated from the rest there wasn’t time to waste, so after just a few minutes (I normally keep up the patter for longer) I came out with it, “I think you would really be good in a picture I’ve been planning for some time, The Three Graces!” They seemed enthusiastic, but said they’d think about it over lunch. We fixed the shoot for 2 days later, Friday 20th.
I had actually been planning the shot for over six years, ever since my friend Lucio showed me his old de-consecrated church on a hill outside Orvieto where he restored old motors and stored veteran Lambrettas for his friends. I thought they’d be perfect for an update of The Three Graces, a favourite subject for painters and sculptors since the ancient Greeks.
First there were three friends from Arezzo. I sent them a sketch of what I had in mind; then one dropped out and then another; no matter, I thought, since the remaining one had a certain resemblance to Grace Kelly I hit on the idea of using only her as all three Graces.
I dusted off the Lambrettas, arranged them in a line, took a few test shots of myself with battery lights, there was no electricity, and then ‘Grace’ backed out.
I called in a Czech friend of mine to make up the third Grace and we moved the day so she could take part – then whilst Kelsey was at the hairdresser’s, she was called away an hour before the shoot. It was back to the idea of one for all.
Tourists visit the archeological park, to the remains of an Etrusco-Roman city, but almost nobody ventures along the gorge of the river Fiora which always reminds me of ‘The Land That Time Forgot’ – one almost expects a pterodactyl to circle overhead rather than a hawk.