Thank you Domenico for reducing me to tears

Imagine being born in the Italian Alps in a tiny town in the mountains. Imagine being an artist. Imagine a fascist government uniting with the Nazis and sending you to war far from your home and family to fight in the heat of North Africa. Imagine being captured by the British and sent with hundreds of your comrades to a tiny remote island in the flat, featureless, cold and damp islands of Orkney. Imagine being a prisoner of war far from home set to breaking rocks in a quarry or making concrete blocks for submarine barriers. Imagine having none of the family you love, none of the scenery you love and none of the food and comforts you love. Imagine not being able to express yourself through the art you love. That was the life of Domenico Chiocchetti.

Years of that would break most people, but not Domenico. Through sheer force of will he and his comrades created one of the most beautiful tiny chapels to have ever existed, out of Nissen huts, scrap metal, bully beef cans, cardboard and watercolours.

The Italian Chapel, Lamb Holm, Orkney - photograph (c) 2016 David Bailey (not the)

Long after all trace of the prisoner of war Camp 60 has disappeared, the Italian Chapel is still there. It’s a symbol of hope and peace. It’s a masterpiece. Thank you Domenico for reducing me to tears.

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