Friday, 28 April 2017

People of the Book. Ancestors.

Brief historical note:

Between the 9th century and the 1400's, Muslims rulers in Spain not only tolerated Jews, but gave them many privileges.  They became known as 'The People of the Book.'  During many centuries great interchange of learning took place especially in Cordoba, Andalucía, until 1492 , when the  Jews were brutally expelled from the country they knew as home, unless they converted to Christianity.

Here, today in usually sunny Andalucia, it's a cold wet morning. So unusual.  The plants, the trees, and the thirsty land effortlessly absorb the colourless  rain.

I would light the fire if I had any kindling or  if I had a rain jacket, I'd go looking for wood.

 On the other side of the river, there are  lots of sticks and bark and hollow bamboo, but the only  bridge is narrow, made just for visiting sheep and goats .


Dare I try it with one crutch, and no handrail?

Question.  How to make the best of today?

 How can I be helpful or encourageing to anybody today, and disabled at the same time ?

And what can I learn without leaving my little house?

EASY answer.   The Internet.

Organic coffee in hand, wrapped up in a purple Peruvian blanket on the magenta sofa, I feel a blog coming on !!!

As Mary Oliver invites us to:

Pay attention, be alert, tell about it.’

I will, I want to , I’m trying!

People of the book, ancestors, yours and mine?

People of the Book. Ist version.

Finished 1st version.Very hard to photgraph.  Poor colour.

2nd version beginning...

Early morning thoughts tap dance as the sky turns different shades of grey. Does the rain silence the nightingales?

10.30. More rain.  Good.
Will my chickens lay eggs in this downpour?

Thinking about - Friendship? Trust?  Patience?

Remembering to expect the best not the worst. Another operation looming close now.

Noticing how my heart closes and freezes when opening certain emails. The mind goes white.  Love this Spanish expression. Like a whiteout! Si señor!

So, how best to harvest the wisdom that surrounds us, despite the state of the world?

Creer es crear -to believe is to grow. Gracias Arbol Rojo.

I want to always believe in goodness.

Belalcazar monastery studio.

 A wonderful John O’Donohue’s poem about mornings comes via  FB.

It comes with the same joy of receiving an old-fashioned letter under the front door.
Remember the pleasure of recognising a friends handwriting?  Thank you Benita.

The poem starts:

‘May this be a morning of innocent beginning,
When the gift within you slips clear…’

Golden years in Spain, when Muslims, Jews, and Chrstians lived harmoniously side by side in Andalucia.

I teasure this gift which slips out easily, but I'm shy and bold to share it. !  Much more shy than bold usually.

So love that Irish expression.. she's bold !  
She's frikken bold ye know! 
Ah no.  
Not often. 
Not unless it's necessary !

The new ' Jewish ' drawings boldly communicate  in their own nonverbal way, timeless, title-less stories of  Spanish Jewish history.   Beloved ancestors. 

By way of contrast, these four images below (made between 1998-2000)  arrived long before cancer knocked on my door in 2014.

Skellig Michael Monks 1999

Inuit Elder, Newfoundland 1999.
Aids in orphanges in Bulgaria.

My unmet father.

When cancer moved into my life, the artist in me came out of the cupboard!  Big time!

The journey was  truly mysterious and truly miraculous.  It involved losing the self I used to know, losing my home , losing my identity...

It's like I don't remember  who I used to be,  and I don't know now who I'm becoming. But my soul is completely at home in these drawings,  it rests here, and it recharges.

Is that what I want to say?
Yes I believe it is !

Belalcazar Monastery 2015

Pen and ink drawing, damaged and remade.  2015.

 I’m sharing  the new  pink version of  People of the Book (below), chosing to be bold on this grey wet day. 

 Drawings numbers 2 -6 show how it began two years ago.

The theme of the  drawing is The Conviencia in Spain in the 14th century. In 2015, I spent two months painting at Belalcazar monastery  near Cordoba, exploring this period with a varity of materials.

Splashes of black ink were thrown onto thick white paper driven by intense feelings related to the brutal expulsion of the Jews in 1492.  The People of the Book were robbed of everything they possessed, their homes, their homeland , their work, the lives they had created.

Abandoned for two years, the drawing has now evolved into a pink reincarnation, thanks to the upcoming Pink Exhibition in Velez Benadaulla, Andalucia.

So it's kind of like these three characters  have finally found their new homeland, as I have, literally across the river from where my  Spanish life stared, 21 years ago.

I've found a brand new life, and a new home - with chickens - post chemo!

Two years now in remisssion.

Thank you God/Goddess /All That Is.

And so the day ends with with finding firewod, feeling warm, finishing the drawing, and sharing the story.

And your day?  Did it surprise you?

“Colour hides a power still unknown but real, which acts on every part of the human body.”
Thank you Robyn.

Impossible to photograph well, the finished drawing, with me in the picture ! LOL!

Exhibition details to follow.


  1. Just read your article. Good one. I liked it. Keep going. you are a best writer your site is very useful and informative thanks for sharing!
    My blog: best small tactical backpack