by Steve Henderson
24.000 x 12.000 inches
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Painting - Oil On Panel
It is an old and ancient place, Orvieto, Italy.
Populated since Etruscan times (possibly back to 900 B.C.), Orvieto has heard the feet of many generations pass through its cobblestoned streets. During the 13th century, it boasted a population of nearly 30,000, and kept its people safe because of its location: located atop tall and vertical cliffs, the city was considered impregnable to attack.
Now, it is a tourist attraction with a population of some 20,000 and many more visitors beyond that. Its main street, Corso Cavour, can be shoulder to shoulder crowded, but as with any popular area, when you get away from the place where everybody gathers, you can find places where nobody else is.
Walking along the edge of the city, you look over the walls that were once its protection from invaders, out into the landscape below. There is sanctuary here amongst the old and ancient buildings, ones that used to be abbeys and retreats, and now, perhaps, request that you purchase a ticket to go through.
The artwork, Ancient Sanctuary, invites you to step back in time, to a timelessness where you can put your phone away as you stand and watch the sun set. It has done this night after night, year after year, century after century, and the city has watched. Another day ends. Another night begins.
People look the same but different – our fashions change but our natures, as humans, remain constant: we love and laugh, hate and fear, whether or not we use donkeys for transport or cars. It’s easy to forget this in our “modern” cities because too much is made of glass and steel, but in a place like Orvieto, where the buildings have stood for many lifetimes, we step back from our modernity and into history, where we find sanctuary in the things that do not constantly change.
November 20th, 2023
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