THE walls of the old pilot’s cottage at the Round House were alive with re-imagined cities and forests, large canvases drawn in delicate pen and ink that took my breath away.
Life Stories is the work of Luigi and Kate Agnelli and, as I discovered, their own life story is the stuff of movies.
Having lived in Italy for years, UK archaeologist Kate was wandering the beautiful and ancient streets of Arezzo, Tuscany when on a whim she wandered into Luigi’s studio.
It was love at first sight with both drawings and creator, with his mesmerising blue eye: “It was a life-changing moment,” the now Mrs Agnelli tells the Herald.
No slouch at art herself, these days the pair works in unison on large pieces, sitting side by side in companionable silence for the most part.
That’s when they’re not travelling the world with their art, including a recent two-month workshop at Istanbul University.
The Agnellis are in Fremantle at the invitation of High Street artist David Giles, for a two-month residency.
“Their work has artistic merit and huge universal appeal, with childhood reference and fairytale references,” Giles says.
The Story of Life is seen through the drawings, Luigi says: “It’s a story that never ends, the story of your life, the things that you are going to do. It never ends.”
The pair brings old Fremantle to life in the style of more ancient cities in the piece they’re working on.
Neither artist has formal training: Luigi studied law before ditching that to become a skipper on a fishing boat in the Mediterranean for many years: “[Law] was boring,” he shrugs with an engaging smile.
Thirty years after leaving school he presented to one of his old teachers a cheeky sketch he’d done: “He is a big fan [now] and comes to all the exhibitions.”
In town for just over a week now the Agnellis are already known as “the Italians” to a growing number of artists and people viewing their works.
You can watch Fremantle’s story unfold at David Giles’ High Street studio, February 26 to March 11, 11am–5pm, after which you’ll find them back at Studio Eleven at the Round House March 11–30.
by JENNY D’ANGER