Pavement artists who for centuries have provided gaudy flagstone decoration around the world have, of late, been disappearing from the major cities.
GV: Top view artists working in Piazza surrounded by tourists
SV: Three students on knees drawing Madonna
SV: Drawing of anguished Christ pan to african head and mountain drawing
SV: Onlookers behind artists
SV: Pan from bottles to copy of Michelangelo's God and Adam
SV: Tourists, pan to artist drawing study of Baptism (TWO SHOTS)
CU: Loom out to woman artist filling in female figure
CU: Pan from portrait of Christ in frame to child artist copying in chalk.
CU: Pan Huge painting of Christ on cross to drawing of group
SV: Judges considering drawings PAN DOWN to drawing of nun (TWO SHOTS)
SV: Woman judge selecting winner Madonna and Child copied from Raphael
CU: Winning artist receiving plague award in box
SV: Tourists look on
SV: Winner with plague pan down to winning drawing
Second place winner stands by huge portrait of Christ
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Background: Pavement artists who for centuries have provided gaudy flagstone decoration around the world have, of late, been disappearing from the major cities. In Italy, they're trying to save their impromptu art form.
SYNOPSIS: In the Northern Italian town of Mantova, the pavement artist can still daub away knowing he won't be moved on. This delights the tourists, who love to stand and watch vivid pictures take shape.
All manner of sources inspire the artists. Not surprisingly, many are faithful copies of old masters like Giotto and Rapheal. Others come from memories of visits to distant lands.
A quenched thirst provided stamina to complete a famous Michelangelo work.
The Piazza is in front of the Church of Graces, which was perhaps and inspiration for the profusion of saints, smiling and angry, of Madonnas and portraits of a suffering Christ. The entire Piazza has been turned into a kind of religious calendar.
The local authorities have specially organised this exhibition, which is also a competition.
There's no restriction on age, as proved by this junior artist rendering his version of Christ. Or on size of works, which can range from miniatures to immense, sprawling competitions as large and alive with rich colours as medieval tapestries.
As wanderers will, these artists drifted in from everywhere. From early morning they've crouched and knelt on the hard stones shaping their drawings for a panel of judges.
After much deliberation the best drawing is chosen. It's a vivid copy of a famous work by Raphael: Madonna and child.
And here's the man who drew it, proudly displaying his award: a boxed plaque with bas relief decoration and called the Golden Chalk.
The second place winner received a silver chalk for his fine effort.