Originally from Australia and having studied in Sydney and Hobart in Tasmania, David Booker has held many exhibitions of his drawings and sculptures. His current graphite and pastel drawings exhibition, entitled 'Castelli di Cartone' features empty cartons and 100% recyclable natural corrugated cardboard. The boxes captured in the drawings are cleverly depicted. It's easy to forget that for a short time, each special box has it's own important purpose in our world, forgotten then strewn aside. David has made them the celebrities.
Once a city dweller, David has a home in Montegabbione, Umbria immersing himself into the countryside. Interested, I caught up with him and his wife at his latest drawings exhibition 'Castelli di Cartone' held at the majestic Castle of Sarteano, province of Siena, Tuscany.
Fay. What initially brought you to Italy? For example, did you choose the destination for a holiday?
David. No, initially I came over to an art school in Milan when I was nineteen and a half years old. I realised I also wanted to work with marble, so I worked in Carrara for a further three years. After this period I returned to Sydney together with my sculptures, which were shipped, by container. (Note: Carrara is very well known for it's hundreds of quarries, and in fact, the stone used to make 'David' by Michelangelo came from Cararra).
Fay. Did you work with marble in Sydney?
David. The marble was not so good to use as in Italy, so I worked with wood, and during the course of a year I sculptured a totem from Tasmanian oak. Actually, the totem was my very first item exhibited in 1983 at the Main Foyer, Railway Central Station in Sydney.
Fay. How did you cope with the Italian language?
David. Well, when I returned to Italy again I wanted to concentrate on marble as a material of expression and when you're a sculptor, you tend to just get on with the work. And of course, sculptors and artists usually work alone so it was a little difficult, as I hadn't studied Italian. I bought a small dictionary though!
Fay. You live in Umbria with your Italian wife and daughter. Would you describe your Umbrian home for us?
David. We live in a typical Umbrian stone house with a small garden and paddock for two horses, one mine and the other my daughter's. My workshop, next to our house, has a rolling door and is home for my sculptures and totem. We've managed to accumulate nine cats and four dogs along the way! We think someone knows that we'll take them in, so occasionally we'll find one abandoned nearby.
Fay. Obviously sculpturing and drawing require a concentrated mind, so do you need to have total piece and quiet whilst working?
David. Not really, I can draw and watch the BBC at the same time! But not when I'm sculpturing though.
Fay. When you have the opportunity and you take time out from your workshop or exhibitions, what do you enjoy doing most?
David. I like organising the horses and shoeing the horses when necessary. This is something I shared with my father in Sydney. I also like Bush walking (Australian expression) and riding the horses with my daughter along the tracks near our home.
Fay. Do you have a favourite place in Umbria you like to visit?
David. I don't have a particular town in mind, but I love going to my favourite watering hole (another Australian expression) where we can take the horses swimming whilst still sat in the saddle.
Fay. What is your favourite Umbrian meal?
David. Possibly Pici all'aglione (Pici in garlic sauce).
Fay. And your least favourite?
David. I don't like seeing pigeon or starling on offer to eat. They should be free. Also, I don't like anything not cooked thoroughly or if a little fatty.
Fay. Having spent some years in Australia before coming over to Italy, is there anything in particular you miss that you cannot buy here?
David. Pubs with beer and an atmosphere! I loved going into a pub filled with groups of young people enjoying themselves. And English suits! I miss being able to go into a store and being able to buy a suit to fit me immediately. I have very long arms.
Fay. Do you own a Piaggio 'Ape'?
David. No, but I have a small Aprilla 125 motorcycle!
The current exhibition at Sarteano is running until 29th August 2010.