Artistic Discoveries in European Schoolyards

I have an absent-minded nature

ILARIA ARIEMME Set- and Costume Designer, Italy

I have an absent-minded nature. I lose anything. Even memories.
I don‘t remember much of my school childhood, only some details: the best loved teacher, the poems by heart, the drawings to be traced on the bottom of each page of the copybook, the scientific tests, the noisy and chaotic canteen, the trainings in the gymnasium and the bell ringing.
But I remember quite well the large yard, where we spent the breaks playing with the classmates, quarreling and making peace and, during the last year of the primary school, looking with the nose on the gate the ‘elders’ of the adjacent secondary school, longing to be soon like them.
I remember a strange game I played with my best girlfriend Chiara.
We had formed a „gang“, and as the members were only she and I, we had named it „the Lonely ones“.
After many researches we chose as a seat a somewhat isolated tree; the great tree at the end of the yard had been better, but it was always too crowded – and the “Lonely ones” needed peace in order to perform their important activities. We had even composed a hymn, its text was just about so: “I am Lonely one number 1 and I sing the Dewista… I am Lonely one number 2 and I sing the Dewista”.
Of course, Dewista was the title.
Essentially, the Lonely ones spent the whole time of the break in running round and round the seat, singing the hymn.
And that was all.
But it became something longed-for, so that one day a girl asked to be accepted in the ‘gang’. We were astonished by the request, and somewhat annoyed, it seemed a cheeky request: it was not so simple, just to come, ask and HOP! Become a Lonely one. Now, not so!
In order to become a Lonely one, there were very difficult tests to be endured.
I remember only one of these tests: the applicant had to jump over the whole length of the sand basin in the yard.
I must point out that my primary school was an old building of the early twentieth century: probably the pupils of those years liked playing bowls, so the build- ing contractor decided to provide the yard with a practical sand bowling ground to practice their beloved sport.
The sand ground still existed during my school years, and it was transformed in a place of physical torment for the brave but too ambitious applicants who wished to join the ‘gang’. Of course, the girl did not stand the test; nobody can jump over about ten meters of sand ground. So the Lonely ones remained lonely.
Consistency first of all.
Thank goodness, growing up makes us less unmerciful.