Jacqueline Bawtree

Jacqueline Bawtree

Read More Stories of Italy and Italian Stories

 

The second time I arrived in Italia in 2009, I went from Roma to stay in Siena, staying six weeks to attend language school.  In a shared student apartment full of international students (Swiss, German, Japanese, Montenegrin, Mexican, American, Scottish), there was an inherent desire in each of us to 'be Italian', to live the Italian life while there, and truly experience what it meant to be part of the culture.  Most notable after each new arrival’s first trip to the supermercato, they would return, clasping a basil plant, bags of tomatoes, pasta and a regional wine or three.  Not that any of us could cook the items to perfection but we had great fun trying to recreate Italian feasts on our apartment balcony looking over the Sienese hills. 

 

From Siena I travelled to Milano and Firenze spending a few days in each, exploring the galleries and museos, before catching the ferry over to Isola d’Elba from Piombino.  I was off to WWOOF on a farm located just 500 metres from Baia di Lacona.  Sleeping in an old caravan by the fruit trees and showering under the evening storms in a makeshift cubicle shaded by an olive tree and fragranced by an immense rosemary bush pushing through the cracks, I stayed for a month.  We harvested vegetables, shoveled compost and manure, participated in Vendemmia, and as the rest of the workers vanished following the summer peak, I worked with the coltivatore and his contadino to harvest the olives.  My days would end with a refreshing sunset swim in the Tyrrhenian Sea, pasta, fresh vegetables and woodfire baked bread.

 

I had been in Napoli less than 24 hours when my onward adventure was thwarted by a wayward vespa, collecting me and throwing me onto the cobblestones outside the Museo Archeologico on a major thoroughfare in ostensibly the crime capital of Italy.  Seriously injured I was hospitalized for 21 days.

Despite the circumstances - including a significant operation to repair my badly broken arm - when I received a blood transfusion for post-operative anemia, I had the delightful realization that I had now achieved what no amount of tomato, basil and mozzarella consumption could achieve alone – I officially had Italian blood!   Unfortunately the accident meant my journey had to end and I was returned to Australia in a torso cast.

 

After 18-months re-strengthening physically and psychologically I returned to Napoli in the European summer of 2011 to complete my interrupted journey.  I stayed in four Italian homes and with two expat American families: the core friendship group of many people who came alongside and supported me during my stay in 2009.  Embraced with great affection and generosity by they, and their extended families, I also had the opportunity to re-unite with hospital staff, who contributed to my care.

 

Napoli and Italia have left an indelible footprint on my heart.  I have resumed language studies and remain in contact with many friends there.  I hope another visit is not too far away. 

 

About Jacqueline and the exhibition 

 

Brisbane’s Italian Week focus on Italian stories in 2014, will be enhanced through a project ‘Italian Portrait’ by emerging photographic artist Jacqueline Bawtree.  Jacqueline’s work will include portraiture of members of Brisbane’s Italian community including twentieth century émigré and first generation Australian Italian’s.   “With an ongoing love affair with Italy I’m thrilled to be working on a project, that I hope will unveil a little more of the Italian heritage that has contributed to the culture and charm of my hometown of Brisbane, Jacqueline said. The timing and opportunity to be able to collaborate with   t h e   t e a m   at Italian Week in the sharing of Brisbane's Italian stories makes the opportunity incredibly special.

 

(First generation Australian-English, Jacqueline’s own connection with Italy began through evening language lessons in a small inner city Sydney language school, leading to a brief two week tour of the country in 2008.  In 2009 she resigned from her job as a sponsorship manager with Football Federation Australia and returned to spend several months in Italy attempting to better learn the language and explore the art and culture of the region.  

 

Following six weeks at language school in Siena, a month volunteering on an organic farm on the island of Elba, Jacqueline arrived south of Rome in Napoli.  Twenty-four hours after arrival, she was run down on a pedestrian crossing outside the Museo Archeologico.  By a Vespa.  After a 21-day stay in l’Ospedale dei Pellegrini in central Napoli, including a six-hour operation to repair her seriously fractured arm, she was flown back to Australia for a 10-month rehabilitation.    Far from thwarting her love for Napoli, the experience solidified her relationship with the southern Italian city through the exceptional people she met during her hospital stay. 

 

Once recovered from her injuries, Jacqueline returned to Italia in 2011 to be reunited with those who came alongside her in her time of need, and finally see Napoli.  She hopes to again return to Italia in the not too distant future to capture something of the stories from the lives of those she has grown to love.  The exhibition, Italian Portrait, will be open to the public. The exhibition can be seen here

                                                                       

(   P h o t o g r a p h i c   i m a g e s   a n d   s t o r i e s   b y   J a c q u e l i n e   B a w t r e e . (F o r   m o r e   i n f o r m a t i o n   a b o u t   J a c q u e l i n e   s   w o r k ,   p l e a s e   v i s i t       " j a c q u e l i n e b a w t r e e . c o m "      ©   J a c q u e l i n e   B a w t r e e .     U s e d   w i t h   P e r m i s s i o n .   

 

 

 

 

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