‘We Serve’ is the inspiring motto that has been characterising Lions Club International since its establishment in 1917 by the American philanthropist Melvin Jones, developer of charitable and philanthropic principles at the service of others. The Lions Club de Monaco organized on Saturday evening, the 14th September 2019, a charity Grand Gala gathering cultural and benevolent values, in the best tradition at the prestigious ‘Salle Belle Époque’ of the Hermitage Hotel.
A unique convivial occasion, under the High Patronage of H.S.H. Prince Albert II of Monaco, in the presence of illustrious guests among which H.E. Cristiano Gallo, Ambassador of Italy in the Principality, Jacques Pasteur, 4th Municipal Assessor for Heritage and Traditions, Karyn Ardisson Salopek, 10th Municipal Assessor, and Régine Vardon-West, founder of Amitié Sans Frontières international humanitarian association. ‘Saisir la lumière, fixer la mémoire’ (Embracing light, setting memory) was the common thread of a charming vintage photo exhibition, part of the ‘Archives du Palais Princier’ (Archives of the Prince’s Palace), that depicted the evolution over time of the Monegasque urban fabric.
A precious piece of Monegasque photographic history to the discovery of stunning photo experiments was provided by Sylvie Ruau Detaille, responsible for the inventory of the Prince’s Palace and heiress of the renowned Detaille family, whose great grand-father Georges revolutionised the world of professional photography in the Principality with innovative techniques.
“The Prince’s Palace Archive Photo Collection gives us the opportunity and the pleasure to revise the photography development through the metamorphosis of the Principality, in a period of two-hundred years”, pointed out Svend Albertsen, president of Monaco Lions Club International.
But what makes this event so remarkable? HelloMonaco asked Victor Messeca (V.M.), chief protocol officer at Lions Club de Monaco.
HelloMonaco: Mr Messeca, how does this synergic mix of ideas come from?
V.M.: The idea just came up, as it often happens. Recently, an extraordinary exhibit of photographs has been inaugurated with the visit of the Prince Sovereign and our friend, Isidoro Miele, Vice-President of Monaco Lions Club was attending the opening. He decided then to speak with Sylvie Ruau, exhibition curator, proposing her a joint initiative and she was excited by the idea. Faithful to our mission to serve others, by this event we wanted to combine culture and solidarity in favour of those children who need heart surgery which they can’t afford since medical treatments are very expensive. We achieve our goal every time a single child is saved. The outcome is reached showing about twenty old visuals which are the setting of the “Welcoming Cocktail” followed by a slideshow lecture by Ms Ruau on the history of photographic techniques. This unprecedented and interesting side of Monaco is meant to arouse the residents’ and non-residents’ interest. A final raffle is held with some exclusive pieces of art, paintings, sculptures and a piece of jewellery, kindly offered by popular artists. As a result, we aim at putting together human generosity, the pleasure of togetherness and a gourmet dinner in a topical environment.
HelloMonaco: The bingo income will be used for helping a young patient hospitalized at Monaco Cardiothoracic Centre, can you tell us something more about it?
V.M.: This medical centre is in constant contact with several associations, operating primarily in Africa but not only, to help kids with severe heart pathologies to have a normal life expectancy through a targeted surgery. Lions Club de Monaco is honoured to take an active part to the entire project, recovery included, doing its best in the hope of collecting at least 30,000 euros. This is our first engagement in this respect and we are looking forward to publishing soon a press release to confirm the success of this endeavour.
So, what pushed artists to donate their creations to this noble cause? HelloMonaco asked Alberto Domenico Vitale (A-D.V.), refined ocean friendly jeweller based in Monaco, engaged in the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation and witness of a family tradition dating back to 1913 when his ancestor, Felice, chose to move from the Principality to Valenza (Italy), world capital of jewellery at that time.
HelloMonaco: Mr Vitale, you have conceived especially for this occasion a treasured necklace, what inspired you?
A-D.V.: I do believe that this evening is very special since simultaneously we are referring to the past as well as we are trying to save a child’s life who represents the future. Hence, I decided to combine Burmese rubies, coming from a currently shut-done mine, diamonds and a shell-shaped ammonite fossil symbol of life.
HelloMonaco: Strength and courage are Lions Club guiding principles, how do you feel being here today?
A-D.V.: When I was a child, every Christmas there was a Lions Club gift under the Christmas tree since my father was a founding member and soon after I became myself. I consider this association a school of life and a tool to help people.
Marcos Marin (M.M.), the Brazilian award-winning artist and also the author of Princess Grace’s magnificent portrait currently kept at the new Museum of Monaco, put up for bingo a limited-edition red sculpture devoted to Grace Kelly in her best Hollywood style.
HelloMonaco: Mr Marin, what about your choice to offer such a memorial work of art?
M.M.: This gala dinner coincides with a sad memory of Princess Grace’s death, thirty-seven years ago, within the happiest 90th Anniversary from her birth that we have just celebrated this year. I feel very close to her figure and I strongly wanted that a piece of art based on her would be part of this charitable mission. Therefore, I was delighted to accept the invitation by Lions Club de Monaco for such a worthwhile cause that I consider one of my artistic and human missions.
HelloMonaco: Where did you find inspiration to conceive this sculpture?
M.M.: This artwork has a peculiar story being the miniature of a larger size version shown at Yacht Club de Monaco to celebrate the first meeting between H.S.H. Prince Rainier III and Grace Kelly. There is also a 4-meter high reproduction at the Café de Paris in Macau Galaxy Hotel Resort. Inspired by an iconic photo shot just before she left Hollywood, it represents the shift towards her new Princely identity.