19 May Anne Conway Photographer
Occasionally you come across English speaking foreigners who have chosen to permanently call the Monferrato their home. Renowned photographer, Anne Conway (originally from Guildford, UK) has lived and worked in Grazzano Badoglio for 26 years.
The hill where she still lives with her giant puppy Balu; surrounded by vineyards, overlooking majestic Moncalvo, the horizon lined by the snow-capped Alps has its own name: “It’s called the Madonna dei Monti” she tells me with a muted pride.
Anne’s first trip to Venice as a fledgeling photographer saw her fall in love with the Italian language and way of living, and this passion remained with her through her years in Paris, where she established her career before seeking work in Milan. The popular Italian ecologist magazine Airone snapped her up and gave her an assignment in Sicily.
After 3 years in Milan and planning to start a family, Anne and her French husband were drawn to the countryside. With heads full of images of the deliciousness of country living: fresh air, plenty of space and an area rich in culture and history, they found a ‘renovator’s dream’ cascina with a million dollar view and moved in with their 3-week old daughter.
With no friends or family, a makeshift outdoor bathroom but more than enough determination, their first winter brought waist-high snowfall and memories of groups of hunters, thinking the property still vacant, using their front doorstep as shooting range, but they eventually settled in.
Finding herself a single mum Anne didn’t want to move her daughter who had established friends, routine and schooling. Anne could also see the benefits of her daughter growing up in an area with such a family orientated culture and still considers Monferrato “a great place to start a family”. Her daughter attended local schools with small classes, was able to speak 3 languages and could boast a friend on every hill. “We could almost communicate with our neighbours and friends by shouting across the valley” Anne tells me.
Now Anne finds herself in the same Cascina, living comfortably and still deeply passionate about Monferrato. “You wake up every day to a different scene. The view changes daily, and dramatically from season to season. Many older people from here have never travelled and maybe that’s why: maybe they don’t feel the need to”.
Producing an annual calendar of magnificent views and the characters who live in Monferrato, she also holds exhibitions, is looking forward to publishing a book later this year, and runs workshops for aspiring professional photographers: and what better location!
Anne Conway Photographer
Written by Fiona Scull | Photo courtesy of Anne Conway