Il Giardino di Tugnin in Campo Ligure: sculptures and greek myths in the country of Genoa

Let’s say we have a plate of ravioli in the country of Genoa. Let’s say, then, that after lunch, on a sunday, in the little humid and grey town we don’t know what to do. Let’s say, so, that my friend Danny is attending a course as “Wood technologist” and he knows in the zone a little park with sculpted tree logs: it’s in Campo Ligure and we all agree on wanting to visit it. We expect something beautiful, but what we find in front of us leaves us without words.

The little park is called “Il giardino di Tugnin” (“The Garden of Tonino”) and we find a sign on the main entrance announcing it:

DSC_0015klThis area is the result of the work of a group of friends/artists, first of all the famous Tugnin, who decided to preserve the artworks of the sculptor Gianfranco Timossi in this garden just under the tower of Campo Ligure’s Castle. The works are big in dimensions, sculpted in the tree logs that the wood companies of the zone are sending to the artist: he starts from the natural shapes of the wood to create powerful sculptures, mostly inspired by greek mythology. Why greek myths? As the nice man who decides to take us around the garden explains, the theme is the remaining of the sculptor’s permanence in Rodi, where he improved his sculptural technique on olive woods.

The first sculptures we meet are really gigantic and leave us breathless: we were not expecting to find ourselves in front of a so big work.

The myth of Prometheus, condamned by Zeus to be chained to a cliff in Scizia and to have his innards continously eaten by a huge eagle, lives again in front of us:

DSC_0017klThere’s then the “Dance of the Muses“, in which the beautiful deities seem to bloom from the coarse log, instilled of pathos and grace at the same time:

DSC_0019klThe next sculpture is out of the main theme: “Children of a lesser god” is a homage to all the ethnies different from the western one, often considered in some way lesser from our society.

DSC_0024klGoing up the Path of Tugnin, we find other artworks covered by single, little canopies, all built and funded by the group of friends:

The list of myths continues with “Daphne“, portrayed during her transformation in a bay tree:

lFollowed by “Icarus“, already equipped with wax wings, who directs his face at the sun:

DSC_0033klStanding, while ferrying souls on an imaginary Styx, we find “Charon“: unluckily this is one of the olive wood sculptures which bit by bit are getting bad because of the humidity and the weather.

DSC_0034klThe man who is taking us around tells us that the resources for the management of the garden and the access to the artworks are all on the group of friends. Disconsolate, he makes us notice how they are all old people: if the city is not doing something, after their death the sculptures will be left to themselves, and so destroyed.

Between the artworks which can be found on the path, stand out “Inferno”, “Purgatory” and “Heaven”, inspired by Dante Alighieri’s work. My favourite is “Inferno“, a tangle of damned bodies exploding from the wood log, with in the middle also a Salomè who raises to the sky the head of Saint John the Baptist.

(Click on the images to see them bigger)

Even if not so akin with the material and full of details, very beautiful, anyway, also “Purgatory” and “Heaven“:

The artistic path of Giardino di Tugnin ends with a group dedicated to the famous Vesuvius’ eruption, called “Pompei 79 d.C.“, where a family embraces during the agony while lava is already devouring their bodies:

DSC_0051klOn a side, on the path, I notice another statue, this time more little and rough: an old man, maybe even Tugnin, come out of a little log to give a message to the visitors: “Welcome to those who love us”.

And this sentance surely agrees with the spirit of the place: as we end our little tour, the man who took us around invites us in the little wooden house in the middle of the garden and offers us something to drink. We talk for long while other old men are, one by one, adding to our group: one is Tugning himself, a very timid man that is clear everyone loves a lot. He sits in a corner, like that wasn’t even his house, but inside there everyone – even us – knows that probably without him nothing we saw would have been possible.

We wait, hoping to meet the sculptor Timossi, but unluckily we are in late for other things we have to do. We go away laughing and feeling good (no, it’s not the grappa) because this unexpected adventure warmed out hearts. If you can, stop in Campo Ligure and search for this incredible place: the sculptures are marvellous, but they’re just the top of an iceberg 🙂

I end the article with the only stone work in the little park because, since of what I just told you, I’d say the subject is definitely in theme: at the entrance of the garden there is the “Fontana dell’Ospitalità” (Hospitality Fountain). Other than symbols linked to Campo Ligure, like the three water rivulets coming out of the central mask mouth, representing the three rivers passing thorugh the town, the two figures sculpted in stone form a scene with important meanings: a woman offers some water to drink to a man, maybe a stranger, a pilgrim.

DSC_0014klAnd, since of our experience, there’s no doubt that in Giardino di Tugnin the keyword is indeed “hospitality”.

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