I took a photograph of my shadow recently while in Ostia, the local beach near to Rome.

I started to think about what shadows mean and wondered how I could develop a narrative around shadows and fabric, the reason why I was in Italy. I began with the following notes:

‘Am on an early train to Como to visit fabric mills. The sun has just risen as the Freccia Rossa train heads from Rome to Como via Milan. I’m excited as I love visiting the Carnet mill to touch fabrics, to feel textures and assess weights.’

However little did I expect my day to unfold in the way that it did. I arrived at Como San Giovanni station and was met by Daniela, my wonderfully gifted and patient Italian language teacher. I noticed a few policemen on the platform and at the exits but thought nothing of it. 

At Carnet we explored a range of silk and wool fabrics and I had three main considerations for my choices. Was the fabric available in block colours, was it pure with no synthetics and did it crease? If the fabrics passed this test, I bought them. The buying was complete within 45 minutes. So far so good.

After a simple lunch by Lago Como, Daniela drove me back to the station and she explained the police presence. Just a few days previously, a camp of hundreds of migrants settled around the station, had been dispersed. They were trying to board the train at Como to travel to Switzerland to get to Germany but Switzerland had closed its border. I saw eight men waiting for the train and the police spoke to them gently to leave the station. For me they left their shadows because as soon as the train left they were back waiting for the next one.

Shadows can scare, shadows can be magical, shadows always return.

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