Suor Carmelina is no more

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keane the nuns of barga 2009014We republish an article from 2009 in its entirety after the news that Suor Carmelina died this morning  in Rome in her retirement home at the Casa Madre delle Suore Giuseppine di Chambéry where she has been resting since 2008.

The article is here : – Three weeks ago during the night, a couple of painted nuns appeared on a wall on a disused building in Barga Vecchia.

Although nobody ever took responsibility for the paintings it was no secret that the artist Keane has been working since 2005 on a series of paintings based around the Nuns of Barga and so most people assumed it was a continuation of that work.

What people were not prepared for was when one of the painted figures then just disappeared during the night when no witnesses were around. Was it painted over ? First there were two, then one.

As it turned out they were not painted directly onto the walls but instead were painted on paper that was then glued to the wall with flour paste.

Last night the second nun vanished like the first. The image being cleanly ripped off the wall whole … no clues as to just who was responsible … is there somebody out there collecting images of nuns or did somebody dislike the images so much that that felt they had to remove them?

They have gone but strangely enough they have left behind a a nun like outline on the wall where they once were .. a ghostly nun after- image.

It kind of fits with the work that Keane has been doing somehow ……. this is what he said in May of last year –

The work is based around a small group of people who have been living and working in Barga for generations, but now as a group are close to extinction – the nuns of Barga.

Their numbers can be counted on one hand, and they always seemed to move around in a group. Just what is the collective noun for a group of nuns .. a flock of nuns, a gaggle .. a pride maybe ? Very rarely is it possible to spot a single nun in the streets of the city.

The main group comprising of three very aged women, all diminutive in stature, and all three of formidable character.

Local residents, describe these three nuns, as always appearing aged. It would seem that nobody can remember them as young women. And there lies the problem, the young Italian women are no longer becoming nuns.

It is very difficult to find recent data on the precise number of nuns living and working in Italy but their numbers are decreasing rapidly and even the new novices coming in from Africa and Asia can no longer fill the gap.

Shortly, this compact group of dark clad women moving ghost like through the streets of Barga will be just that – ghostly memories


Work in progress 2008 – 2009 – more here

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