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.

More on Orkney's Italian Chapel

The Italian Chapel - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey (not the) Peace to you Orkney's Italian Chapel is a jewel, a relic, a prayer and a tiny beacon of hope. It's also a spectacular… read more
St George - The Italian Chapel - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey (not the) St George at the Italian Chapel There's time for us to visit the Italian Chapel on Orkney's tiny Lamb Holm island. It's connected to other islands… read more
Ugo Pizzi - The Hall of Einar An Italian Prisoner of War, beachcombing, 75 years ago Orkney had a substantial Italian Prisoner of War population in the Second World War. They were specially commandeered for building… read more
The Italian Chapel - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey (not the) The Italian Chapel has twins Orkney's Italian Chapel was once part of a large complex of Nissen huts with tracks and gardens. For many years… read more
Antonella Papa- restorer of The Italian Chapel - photograph (c) 2016 David Bailey (not the) Restoration of The Italian Chapel Antonella Papa spent a month last year as restorer of Orkney's Italian Chapel Antonella says: "The Italian Chapel now is… read more
The Orcadian - "Italy visit for chapel committee members" Published in The Orcadian – “Italy visit for chapel committee members” I was delighted to see my photographs used in The Orcadian's article about the Italian Chapel Preservation Committee's trip to… read more
Round the back of the Italian Chapel - photograph (c) 2016 David Bailey (not the) Round the back of The Italian Chapel I love the view around the back of the Italian Chapel. read more
Fragile and Immortal - The Italian Chapel on Orkney - photograph (c) 2016 David Bailey (not the) Fragile and immortal The Italian Chapel on Orkney's tiny island of Lamb Holm is so fragile. These are not bricks; this is not… read more
The Madonna painted by Domenico Chiocchetti - photograph (c) 2016 David Bailey (not the) The words in his pocket Oh let men, overcoming individual and national egoisms, recognise themselves as brothers, may they refrain from discord, may they love… read more

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