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Literary success for Ilkley resident

Gianluca Wagstaff Pignanelli and father Luigi Pignanelli

Ilkley resident, Gianluca Wagstaff Pignanelli, is celebrating after his debut photobook, Picking Apples Outside Paris, is to be sold in The Grove Bookshop in time for the Christmas period.

Mr Wagstaff Pignanelli, son of Luigi Pignanelli who runs the popular Italian restaurant Emporio Italia on Railway Road in Ilkley, is a fine art documentary photographer and graduate from the Leeds University of Art.

His documentary book features a collection of photographs that visually depicts the journey that his father made in the early 1970s hitchhiking across Europe from his native Italy to Manchester in search of a better life.

Retracing his father’s steps, Gianluca Wagstaff Pignanelli documents the landscape and landmarks that his father passed through exactly 50 years ago as a way of exploring and understanding his own family heritage and creating a timeline and lasting legacy for future generations of the Pignanelli family.

Over the course of three separate trips spanning three months, he revisited all the significant locations on his father’s journey, documenting the places he had visited and using photography to piece the journey together.

The result is a stunning body of work featuring a unique and enigmatic collection of photographs which he submitted as his final art project for his photography degree at the Leeds University of Art.

The photographs and accompanying ephemera tell his father’s story and are paced in a way so the reader can accompany him on the route. But they also exist as age-less stand-alone pieces of art which are open to the reader’s own depiction and interpretation. And there is also the parallel narrative of his own journey from Italy to Manchester.

Mr Wagstaff Pignanelli said: “This book took three years in total to complete and was a real labour of love. A lot of my work is introspective and I use photographs as my tool to help me understand my family history, as photographs, especially photos in a family archive, have sentimental stories to tell.

“This collection is a homage to my dad and it’s fair to say that he was completely blown away when he saw it. We had an exhibition and book signing at the restaurant on 16th September which was a very proud moment for all of us. All the copies we had published sold out so I’m delighted that there is demand for more and that my book will be featured in my local bookstore.”

To follow Gianluca on Instagram where he regularly shares photographs and insights into his work, search for @gianvluca.

To pre-order Picking Apples Outside Paris, please email: or call 07802 665610.


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