Nigel Lembo. Poems, Marionette and ‘Mariviento’.

Let me introduce you to an artist who works to revalue the Cilento area and to spread its traditions.
Not long time ago the RAI TV dedicated a report to him.
This was a very important thing for him, for his area and also for his restaurant that was doing great until before the pandemic.

His name is Nigel Lembo and he began to make himself known by creating installations in the small uninhabited villages of the wonderful Cilento. Then, a few years ago, he gave life to a multi-art cultural context aimed at the conservation and enhancement of Cilento traditions and customs.

NL: “In Cilento there are many talented artists but many of them are shy and don’t show their art, that’s why I founded the association.

An artist for artists who embraces the cause of art and communication; of culture and beauty; tries to give voice to the territory.
Before being called “Tana della Sirena”, it was born as a home for artists where they could show their artworks. Later it became a cultural association for which he coordinated the art gallery and also enjoyed cooking typical delicacies.
In Summer 2019 two women were having dinner at the “Tana della Sirena” to taste typical specialties and to admire the art gallery. Nigel’s exhibited works, his “marionette”, and “marionette di mare”, caught the eyes of the ladies who Nigel later knew were two journalists. Shortly after that episode, the RAI journalist Anna Testa, from Napoli, interviewed him as an artist, dedicating a report to him that was broadcasted on TG3 (regional news).
More recently Nigel has created another point of artistic and cultural exchange that he has called the “Casetta d’Arte”. He is also active in Sicily where he organizes workshops with a cooperative that welcomes immigrants.
Nigel Lembo is first a poet. His latest book is entitled “Stracquature: storie di mari lune e funamboli (Stracquature: stories of seas, moons and tightrope walkers) published by L’Argolibro. The title refers to everything that the storm or the tide leave on the beach, basically everything that comes out of the water is an “overflow” that he expresses through poetry the same way he does with other art forms that he experiences. The illustrations are made by the painter Cristina Sodano with whom he often collaborates. But there are also other publications, such as “L’Eleganza delle Cose Mai Fatte” (The Elegance of Things Never Made), by the same publisher, and “Mare Acerbo”(Sour Sea), which you can find on Kindle. Through the poems you will discover the kind and communicative soul of an artist at 360 degrees. Poet, marionettista, theater actor and street artist, writer, creative of artistic recycling, he is simply, as he defines himself, a human being who loves human beings. His poetry, his art and, with these, his message have the ability to get anywhere.
In fact, they have also arrived in the educational contexts of the Cilento area, where he creates workshops for children to encourage creativity and the stimulation of imagination.

Nigel creates installations for festivals, performs marionette shows and currently, alongside his success as a poet, he is gaining much acclaim as a street artist.
He has also participated in numerous solo and collective exhibitions. He has performed festivals such as the Mojoca Festival and Giovivendo Festival, and at the events of ‘A Madonna d’ ‘and Rrose already mentioned in our previous edition. He did not miss performances and shows in the evocative historical buildings and in the beautiful medieval residences of Campania. He is a member of the theater troupe “Dentro la scena”(Inside the scene) and as a theater author he wrote, and also performed, “Sogni di Marionetta” (Marionetta’s Dreams), a work enriched with original music by Raffaele Amenta.

When I met him I thought I was talking to a fantastic character. Nigel Lembo is a poet who loves the sea in all its expressions. He listens to it, he experience it and he collects everything that the sea gives him.

When he was a boy he was already interested in sculpting with recycled materials. Today he creates “beached wood” art and he builds fantastic marionette to which he gives life and personality through equally fantastic stories.

His ideas have no boundaries and he has come to combine poetry with the creation of his installations as well as with short marionette shows guided by the thread.

Attending a performance of him is healthy, and gives you the same result as a therapy. And in fact, the therapeutic action takes place above all in the paths that the artist takes through his workshops and his initiatives.

Nigel has created the “Mariviento” a project that also works to help all children to develop their personality, character, and helps them grow up in a healthy way. All this through art and by educating to beauty.
The Mariviento project is particularly suitable for children who have communication issues. In fact, through the construction, the characterization, the staging and the interaction with the marionette of the sea (which becomes an alter ego through which to bring personal and collective expressions outside of themselves), children with the aforementioned difficulties will find more suitable languages and other elements that will help them gain self-confidence.

The Mariviento experience allows children to acquire awareness, to get closer to nature. It helps the process of self-recognition and of interaction with the outside world which, sometimes, is not understandable and which can be scary.
The program is exciting and features the soundtrack offered by the sea. In fact, it includes pleasant walks on the beach, in order to collect the materials which be used for the creations. A piece of wood, a cork or a sponge, but also plastic objects, and everything that the sea has left on the shore is used in the construction of the marionette di mare. The characterization of the marionette follows: the face, the character and then it comes the invention of a story and its representation. The project is completed by also including creative writing, music, imagination and social interaction.

The strength of Mariviento is that it is a flexible project-event that can be adapted to any location. In fact, if you want to host the Mariviento Project but your location is far from the sea, there are no problems. The artist himself will provide all the necessary materials, so as to carry out only the construction, the characterization, the staging and then the manipulation of the sea marionetta

An important concept that Mariviento tries to convey starting from children is that abandoned things can take on new life, find a second home, so as to have another chance in the world, because no one should be abandoned to him/herself. .
In addition to creative recycling, it is important for Nigel to teach children not to throw things away and to find ways to reuse them.

Humanly and artistically, it is important for the artist to confront and to contaminate himself with others. Comparison and contamination are good ways to grow healthy, to open up to knowledge and, above all, to remain human. Nigel has traveled extensively. He has lived in Turin, then in Rome, where for a long time he organized exhibitions combined with ethnic cuisine. Then it came the Parisian experience. Nigel speaks French well, and in Paris his poems, which he sold at the subway station at a cost of one euro each, allowed him to live there for two years. Then he moved to Burgundy and then to London. London is even colder and not so bohemian. Nigel is a Mediterranean and he prefers a milder climate. His nomadic spirit moves him wherever the universe asks for him and also it moves him towards any form of art.

One Christmas he decided not to buy the gifts but to make them with his own hands using recycled materials. He liked the idea of spending time creating special objects.

He says that the marionette are present in almost all countries of the world, even if with different shades. In the Czech Republic, for example, that of the marionette is an important tradition, also in England, but especially in Central and South America. In the Italian tradition, puppets are more common. In fact, it is also difficult to find texts, scripts and literary material in Italian relating to marionette. The point of reference for the artist is Paraguayan Harry V. Tozer who left something written in Spanish about it.

The marionetta is a very personal thing as it is the method of construction.

Nigel uses the vertical slingbar.
The crossbar, the one usually seen on TV, is widely used in the United Kingdom. His marionette are built with wasted material that he reuses, and the pieces are assembled without any glue or chemical substance. He builds the sling bars himself.

NL: “… Maybe the fact that I’m a fisherman also has something to do with it. As a fisherman I know that everyone has their own method. Even if a friend’s method is an infallible one, everyone works according to their needs, according to their instincts and invents the method that best suits them. Doing the things that others do does not belongs to you. It’s a unique thing and you build the sling bar according to your movement. ”

For Nigel, the sea is always the driving force behind everything.
When a marionetta is born, he doesn’t know why. This he finds out later, after getting to know it/him/her. His marionette are small parts of him that he then lets go.
Nigel gives birth to his marionette starting from the head. Once he has found the head, the rest comes by itself.

Marionette are fascinating objects. I don’t even know if it’s correct to call them objects.
They are little souls who manage to unleash the imagination of even the oldest. Sometimes, classic marionette can also be creepy. This is a thought of mine that I share with the artist who then tells the story of a marionettista who had a marionette workshop at home. This guy used to lock his bedroom at night for fear that his own marionette would kill him. This is a classic thrilling story. But the Marionette of the Sea built by Nigel and also those built by children are special and they would never hurt anyone. Indeed, every time Nigel shows Marionette of the Sea, all the children enter a fantasy world full of poetry and talk to the marionette, they hug them, they listen to them, they fall in love with them.

NL: “The memory is important because it is your baggage, it is what you are.

The pieces of history told and the traditions handed down to him, above all, by the old people, whom he calls the memory bank, it is important that they are still maintained and transmitted.

The anecdotes, the memories, the stories people tells him sometimes he represents them with his marionette.
An old man from his hometown told him that when he was young he had a cinem-cart with which he reached neighboring towns and screened films.
The social function of the cinema-cart was important, because at that time there were no cinemas in Cilento and otherwise the villagers would not have been able to see the films remaining even more out of the world.

The old people are the guardians of an immense heritage that unfortunately is difficult to be spreaded out, especially when they are from small towns. This is the reason why Nigel spends a lot of time with the old people and he captures the past stories shared by those who have personally experienced the events.

Through his marionette Nigel represented the processing of the libano, a vegetable fiber whose production and processing has carried forward and maintained a large part of the Cilento economy throughout the last century. Until before the arrival of synthetic fiber with the libani they produced from the ropes for the cultivation, to the baskets for mussels, to the ropes for boats and more. The libani are leaves. They are a sort of very long and sharp leaves that were first intertwined, then were beated, then were put to macerate and then they were hung up to dry in the sun.

The cultivation of the libani was almost always done by women who left on foot, from the area of the sea to reach the mountain where they collected them in the baskets that the next day they loaded up to the town. It was a very tiring job.
Then there was a loom that was used to spin the libani. In order to do this, the libani had to be holded with the feet, that caused many cuts to the toes.

 It took Nigel more than a year and a half to convince an old lady, a former libani weaver, to demonstrate the old method.
After the demonstration at the “Tana delle Sirene” association, the woman donated some intertwined libani to Nigel that he jealously keeps as memory of this tradition and of this beautiful experience.

Going back to the memory. For Nigel to find his own identity it is important to listen to the stories of the past to achieve certain things and to see where we come from and what we have done in the past. For example, about the libani these are no longer used but the method for weaving synthetic fibers is still the same today.

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