teatro e letteratura Italiana a Londra dal 1998

 

per informazioni sulle attivitá del Gruppo Escape in Art potete inviare un messaggio email a Escape in Art

 

Salita Gatto di Pino Ferrara

Sfogliando le pagine di questo romanzo, è come se aprissimo una porta e facessimo un salto nel passato. Siamo nel periodo a cavallo della Seconda guerra mondiale e la vita in un piccolo paese della Sicilia scorre lenta e monotona come da sempre, poco toccata dagli eventi bellici. Il paese di pescatori si chiama Villaggio Pace, proprio lungo la costa nord della città di Messina, e qui il tempo scorre lento e monotono e quel poco che accade è fortemente regolato da usi, costumi e tradizioni che condizionano il vivere e il convivere dei suoi abitanti. Il protagonista, Giovanni, descrive quella vita attraverso le vicende della sua famiglia. I cambiamenti tuttavia arrivano, sia pure lentamente, sconvolgendo l’esistenza e le abitudini dei suoi abitanti. Giovanni ci descrive con minuzia di particolari quale era la vita prima della guerra, come è cambiata dopo e gli effetti che ha avuto sulla gioventù di allora, quella gioventù che negli anni Cinquanta si è incamminata verso il Nord, portandosi dietro solo una valigia piena di speranze e di paure. E per la generazione dei figli, e ancor più per quella dei nipoti, è difficile, se non impossibile, immaginare come si viveva allora, ma solo conoscendo il passato si può capire il presente.

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Pino Ferrara è nato nel 1936 a Messina. Prima come bancario e poi come uomo di teatro e di lettere, ha passato gli ultimi quarant’anni della sua vita all’estero, vivendo tra gli Stati Uniti, Hong Kong e Londra. Come dirigente bancario ha lavorato all’estero per diverse banche italiane e straniere, collaborando nel contempo con riviste finanziarie asiatiche. Nel ruolo di regista teatrale, a Londra ha messo in scena molte commedie di commediografi contemporanei italiani e ha insegnato recitazione in alcuni College inglesi dove si studia la lingua italiana. Alcune sue poesie sono state presentate in una manifestazione letteraria per la promozione della lingua italiana organizzata a Londra con il patrocinio del Ministero dei beni culturali e altre sono state premiate in vari concorsi letterari in Italia e incluse in alcune antologie. Il suo romanzo Il foglio di Aziza ha vinto il “Premio della Giuria” del Premio letterario Città di Pontremoli 2014. Rotariano fin dal 1974, è stato Presidente del Rotary Club della City di Londra e nel 2004 gli è stata riconosciuta la Paul Harris Fellowship per il suo contributo a sostegno di studenti bisognosi. I proventi del suo lavoro nel campo teatrale e letterario sono interamente devoluti a beneficenza. Attualmente vive e lavora tra Milano e Londra.

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Il Maestro Lorenzo Castello, autore delle locandine di Escape in Art

 

Il Maestro Lorenzo Castello, genovese di nascita, lavora dal 1983 fra Londra e Parigi.

Pittore ritrattista di chiara fama, é ricordato per i molti personaggi che hanno deciso di affidare la propria immagine alle sue tele, da Sua Altezza Reale la Principessa Anna d'inghilterra, a Lord Charles Forte, da Sir Eddie George, ex-Governatore della Banca d'Inghilterra, a Sir Denis Mahon, storico d'arte.

Tutte le sue figure ci trasmettono la sua interpretazione di un mondo di magico realismo.

Prestigiosi musei hanno accolto le sue opere: fra questi la National Portrait Gallery di Londra, la National Gallery di Dublino, il Museo Villa Tempra a La Valletta (Malta), il Museo Nazionale del Cairo.

A Genova ha realizzato la pala d'altare della chiesa di San Marco al Molo.

Per maggiori informazioni sulle opere del Maestro Castello potete visitare il suo sito:

 

Lorenzo Castello - Gallery

 

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Il Figlio di Aziza di Pino Ferrara

 

 

Vincitore del "Premio Speciale della Giuria"del Premio Letterario Città di Pontremoli 2014

 

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Per informazioni sulle attivitá del Gruppo Escape in Art, offrire collaborazione o proporre nuove idee, contattare Pino Ferrara

 

sito disegnato e mantenuto da Vincenzo

Italians in Clerkenwell From The 1800s To The 1960s

 by Verusca Calabria 

14/11/2006

For the past year Verusca Calabria has been collecting an oral history of Italians in London. Here she tells us the story of the Italian community that settled in the Clerkenwell area of London from the 1800s onward.

19th century Beginnings

The 1880s was a time of mass migration from countries such as Italy, Spain and Austria-Hungary. Italians chose to migrate predominantly to the Americas, and to countries like France, Belgium, Germany and the UK. The reasons for migration centred around the agrarian crisis in the kingdom of Italy and the increased demographic growth coupled with the lowering of the death rate in the European continent as a whole.

The settlement of Italians in any sizable numbers in London, Manchester (Ancoats Little Italy), Scotland and Wales, started in the 1800s with the arrival of skilled craftsmen from the north of Italy. In London, they settled in and around Clerkenwell; they were quickly followed by a wave of poorer migrants from the Apennines. Further communities settled in Manchester, Scotland and Wales.

The Italian ‘colony’ in Clerkenwell was mainly employed in trades such as organ grinding, knife grinding, mosaic and terrazzo craftsmenship. As organ grinding declined, it was replaced by the selling of food, often in the streets, which gave rise to the import of chestnuts from the north of Italy and the migration of Italian boys who sold them during the winter months.
 

Ice cream

Many changes were also taking place in the fabric of British society at this time which had a direct influence on the new comers. Paid holidays were introduced, creating leisure time that provided Italians with a market to sell their ice cream by seaside resorts. Ice cream was the trade that helped Italian migrants’ economic and demographic growth in the UK and was responsible for tripling their numbers in Britain between 1880s and 1901. Carlo Gatti’s ice company, which was situated where the
Canal Boat museum is today, was also a large employer of Italians who would transport ice from Norway to London for refrigeration use up to 1950s.

A society of mutual assistance was also formed, the Mazzini Garibaldi’s club, it was first situated in Laystall Street and then moved to Red Lion Street. The club is still running today for entertainment purposes only.
 

The Italian church in Clerkenwell Road was also established in 1883 and became a central focus for Italians in London, becoming a place for ‘labour exchange’ on Sundays, after mass. St. Peter’s school was opened in Back Hill, around the corner from the church, as a day time English school for Italian and Irish children and after school as an Italian language school for children of Italian migrants.

It became necessary to open the Italian hospital 1884 in Queen Square (WC1) to cater for the growing number of Italians in London; this institution closed down in 1980s. Furthermore, the Italian chamber of commerce opened in London in 1886 and in 1887 the first congregation of the missionary fathers to the migrants was established, The Scalabrini Fathers, that settled in London. They are still here today, in Kennington, London.

'Moral panic'

A growing moral panic ensued amongst the British middle classes; Italians were seen as immoral, illiterate, and vicious by a select committee on emigration in parliament in 1888. There was a problem with overcrowding in central London due to the lack of housing coupled with the growing number of newcomers to the city where manual labour could be found. Italians were recorded as living in overcrowded conditions, and the British authorities feared epidemics would spread. Slum clearance took place to a certain extent, but not enough houses were built to meet the growing demand.

The growing fear about migrants led parliament to approve the first immigration legislation to restrict entry to the UK, the Alien’s Act 1905. Predominantly designed to stop Eastern European Jews, it was directed to a lesser extent at Italians and Chinese. They had come to be seen as a national threat, even as an ‘alien invasion’. The Act required aliens to be vouched for by someone already residing in the UK who could provide them with lodgings and a job. So one effect of the Act was to reinforce the chain migration between the settled Italian community in UK and their villages of origin.
 

War

During WW1 Italians fought alongside the British. With the advent of fascism from 1920s onwards, the Italian government was keen to gain support from Italians living abroad. Fascist party offices were set up wherever Italians could be found on the continent and Italians were ‘forced’ to sign up to the party’s membership lured by the prospects of free holidays to their ‘mother country’ and as the only way to receive citizenship services by the Italian state.

The outbreak of WW2 brought general immigration to a halt in Britain dramatically increased government control over aliens. When Benito Mussolini declared war against Britain on 10th May 1940, angry mobs attacked Italian restaurants and ice-cream parlours in Britain. What ensued is captured by the expression: ‘Collar the Lot’. This phrase is often quoted by Italians that had been interned who are still alive to tell the tale (the expression has been credited to Winston Churchill). All men between the ages of 16 and 60 were interned in the Isle of Man, which had the effect of crippling the catering trades for lack of manpower.

A decision was taken at the War Cabinet to export these internees to Canada and Australia. In July 1940, around 800 Italians were sent on the boat ‘Arandora Star’ that was to deport them to internment camps in Canada. However it was torpedoed by a German submarine and 471 Italian men lost their lives. The remaining survivors were sent to internment camps in Australia. It is to be noted that many of these men had been born in Britain or lived and contributed to British society for many years. They lost their lives tragically; a monument to them has been erected outside the Italian Roman Catholic church in Clerkenwell, London.

Workmen's cafes

From 1950s to 1970s new waves of Italians came into Britain to fill the employment gaps in industry and agriculture and to a lesser extent in the catering industry. Many people from Emilia Romagna came to London in the 1950s through ‘chain migration’ - that is they were connected through family ties to the 19th century Italian colony of Clerkenwell. This colony had established itself in the catering industry, running the classic fish and chips shops and workmen’s cafes. They provided a support network to people from Emilia Romagna by guaranteeing them a place to live and a job so that they could be issued with a 4 year work permit from the Home Office.

By 1960s, many Italians were able to afford their own cafes and restaurants that had the classic Formica counters, symbol of consumer culture in Britain. They worked very long hours for decades in order to afford their own homes and their children’s education. They were responsible for introducing Italian cuisine to Britain, from spaghetti Bolognese in the early 1960s to the introduction of ciabatta bread in the early 1980s.

Gradually the first generation left the catering trade. The rising cost of leases coupled with the increasing commercial values of cafés’ buildings in central London signalled the end of the affordable cafes and restaurant culture for workmen. Italians had become socially mobile and started to move out of ‘Little Italy’ in Clerkenwell towards more prosperous areas such as the boroughs of Finchley and Southgate, although the Italian church of St. Peter’s in Clerkenwell still remains a focus in the community, particularly the procession of St. Mary of Carmel that has been taken place around the church on the third Sunday of July since 1883.

 

An advertisment for Gennaro's Restaurant, Old Compton Street, Soho in 1930 - "the restaurant where you are greeted with a Smile and a Flower"

Exterior of St Peter's - the Italian church in Clerkenwell, showing the names of all those who drowned on the Arandora Star

 

Survivors of the Arandora Star were brought to an internment camp in Australia in 1941

An Italian family in London in the 1890s

Italian ice carters for the Gatti Ice Company, King's Cross, London 1890s. Gatti himself was an Italian-speaker from Switzerland.

Icecream barrow, London, 1920s

Italian chefs at the Savoy Hotel in the Strand, London, 1929

Italian 'Scampagnata' day out organised by the Mazzini Garibalidi club, England, 1930s

 

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