I was invited by my friend and sculptor Neal Barab for a VIP tour of the marble quarries in Carrara, how could I say no to this once in a lifetime opportunity. To be lead through the marble quarries by someone not only knowledgeable, but also passionate about this ancient stone.
Neal and his family live in a town near the sea, "Pietrasanta", near Massa, and Carrara, mountains of marble surround these coastal towns. When I first saw these mountains many years ago, I thought that it was snow I was seeing, but no it was actually the marble quarries, white and powdery from a distance.
Neal has a studio there, and works with many sculptors from all over the world in a co-operative environment. Each artist has their own area in this studio compound to sculpt from the stone in the surrounding areas. It is quite exciting to visit this studio with all the artistic activity. The studio lies on the bank of a river, and in the summer when Neal holds workshops they take full advantage and go for cool dips in the middle of the day.
Before our VIP tour, we shared lunch (which Neal had prepared) with Neal and his family. His wife Susan is a handbag designer (you know I love that) and truly a delightful lady, and his 2 adorable children 8 and 10 years old. The house on a hill behind his studio is charming and cozy, although the terribly narrow winding road to the house was a bit challenging, even for me, I am used to driving narrow roads but this was exceptionally daunting. Let’s just say I did not have wine with lunch, so I could navigate back down the road.
After lunch in the garden, we headed to the quarries. It was a truly an amazing tour, with the history of mining and cutting marble out of the mountains, well told by Neal.
We slowly made our way up the mountain to the entrance of a cavernous marble room, where marble was being cut and hauled away. It is indescribable the mass and scale of the room we were standing in. You will have to experience it for yourself. It was really a fantastic day, delicious food, great company and wonderful insight into a world that has been in the everyday lives of artists and artisans for hundreds, no thousands of years.
Thanks Neal and Susan!
Neal leads private or group tours, plus sculpting classes at his studio, all year round to reserve a sculpting/marble quarry experience with Neal at his studio please email Neal firstname.lastname@example.org