Apiece Apart Woman: Camilla Ginevra Bo
Photos by Ashley Helvey
Often the most interesting, inspiring, and refreshing women in our world come into our lives through the recommendations of friends. Introductions to these women—whoever they are and wherever they are—are reminders that we’re all writing our stories as we go, and that life’s twists and turns are ever-unfolding. Such was the case with Camilla Ginevra Bo, a former London gallerist who left the city to live with her partner and young son in the countryside in the south of France…
Born in Italy, Camilla spent her childhood near Rome “with five shepherd dogs, forever scratched knees, and spending summers barefoot on my parents’ tiny boat.” Studying architecture first in Rome and then in Paris, after school she wrote for the Italian Association of Art and Critics before beginning a career in art galleries in London. After her father passed away, a two week cavaliering trek ended in an expected change of life direction: She met and fell in love with her partner while traveling, abandoning her life in the city to move to a small wine-making village east of Marseille.
Today, she is working a new curatorial project, Scalzo, which brings together a selection of artworks, garments, and everyday objects intended to invite the viewer to reconsider notions of value while supporting sustainability, traditional craft, and independent makers. Below, a visit to Camilla’s home and a conversation on life in the countryside.
Your life in France feels like what many daydream of! I am wondering about — as someone who has lived around the world and moved to the country — what your perspective is on what attributes most to quality of life?
I remember once a friend called me from London and, after telling me about all the different lectures, exhibitions, shows she is attending and things she is doing at the same time, she asked me, "and what about you?" My response was, “I’m going to town to sharpen my knives!” I still laugh when I think about it — the disconnection and the connection of it all.
When you live in London your calendar is mostly full; to schedule a dinner with a friend you need to make your plans a month in advance. Here, when you want to have dinner with someone you call him in the morning and at 6pm he’s at your place. There is a clear statement behind this way of living which is a praise of slowness against the crazy acceleration generated by the urban system. It gives you the space for the unpredictable to happen.
Emerging after a time in quarantine, can you share more about your relationship to impermanence and change?
I hope that this time of quarantine prompted people to question the way we live, the choices we make, and how much these choices influence our environment.
Seeing whales swimming by the coast, looking up at clear skies with thousand of stars, and witnessing the positive impacts the reduction of “business as usual” had on the environment should be a moment of recalibration, to reconsider the way we travel, what we eat, where we put our money.
To me this epidemic was clearly a shout from the planet, awakening us to the sad reality of how far we’ve strayed from moral evolution and a sense of connection with the natural world. We don’t talk much about the fact that in some places we are running out of natural resources faster than nature can replenish them, all alongside a growing population…This moment has also illuminated the need to reduce poverty in a drastic way, to give people the ability to choose what they eat, to know what steps were involved in the process…We have the choice of how impact the world we live in.
When do you feel the most centered or beautiful? When do you feel the most uncentered or removed from your true self?
I feel centered while folding dumplings or doing any meticulous manual work that you can accomplish by the end of the day. Breastfeeding makes me feel centered too; my partner keeps teasing me: Italian mothers breastfeed their child until they’re 18.
I feel uncentered whenever the Mistral winds blow for three days in a row.
5 books I love deeply (or perhaps that you’ve given as gifts?)
* Zen in the art of archery / Herrigel
* In Praise if shadows / Tanizaki
* The man who planted trees / Giono
* The Master and Margarita / Bulgakov
* Perfume / Süskind
My go-to, easy dinner / meal I make for myself…
I’ve been cooking since I was very young — my best memories of food come from my father’s delicious dishes and the renaissance-like dinners that he would throw at least once a week for all his friends.
Cooking in my home has always been taken seriously: Every April my father would disappear for a couple of nights to go at a friend’s restaurant to use his professional oven in order to cook the 20 Pastiera (a traditional cake from Naples) for Easter Sunday. He managed to cook sumptuous dinners even from the tiniest kitchen. I have inherited his love and respect for food but I keep it simple.
In my kitchen there a few ingredients all year long: Mullet roe that my two-year-old son loves to sip as a lollipop, smelly rove goat cheese from a farm nearby, lemons, tons of garlic, good olive oil, and Pastis. Since we have a kitchen garden the biggest pleasure comes from eating bitter radishes and beetroots straight from the ground along with a plate of local cheese and a very good bottle of Bandol, otherwise a favorite meal is always consumed around a fire with Les Cavaliers de Saint Georges.