A Cuban Writer

Carpentier book

The radio was on and a song took me back to another time. (I never knew love like this before) A sunny morning, walking into university. Well, not walking, dancing, floating on air. A song in my head and love in my heart. A joyful love song whose lyrics echoed exactly how in love I was and hearing it today, I remembered that feeling. I was in love and knew I was loved back. Words and music can do that.

Next week, I’m going to Cuba. And I realised that the author of a book, The Lost Steps, had also written words that had struck my heart. Alejo Carpentier, born in Havana in 1904, lived in Paris and Venezuela, returning to Cuba after the revolution and dying in Paris in 1980.

There is a moment in The Lost Steps that highlights Life. It is about the moment that is perfect, a life that is perfect, but we can be so busy trying to get back to what is familiar and what we think, better, that we don’t realise until too late what we have thrown away. It is a ‘No! You fool! Don’t do that’ moment.

I can’t remember much about the book except a few images and this revolutionary moment. So, I have taken the book out of the bookshelf and I’ll be re-reading it. Good books – ones you read again and again. And funny how things reappear, coming together with a common link. The Lost Steps. Alejo Carpentier. Cuba.

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Talk you round till dusk by Rebecca Tantony

I heard Rebecca Tantony perform her poem, This City is a Garden last year at The Tribe of Doris Festival. Her passion and use of words drew everyone in.Rebecca Tantony's bookNow, her book, Talk you round till dusk, has been published by Burning Eye Books, with illustrations by Anna Higgie. The two mould perfectly together. Rebecca’s imagery stays with you. Her ideas stay with you and those nuggets of hope you feel turning in your heart are gently prised open. Short, short stories and poems and what you feel are honest parts of Rebecca stay with you. And most of all, a desire to live, exploring the vastness of the world, of people and of ourselves. Wonderful.

Sun Plus Rain Equals Rainbow

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Woohoo, number four, cracking on.


Monet for SPRER

Self Portraits

Today, Rachael came to paint a self-portrait. Frieda Kahlo and Giuseppe Arcimboldo were our inspiration. I had ideas that we would create about six different types of self-portrait today, but we have only touched the surface – we created two types.

Firstly, we made lists of what is important to us, events, people, passions, work, whatever we felt was important.

And then the paper came out. Rachael wanted the big sheets.

Frieda Kahlo often painted aspects of herself and world in her paintings. This was the aim. Interestingly, Rachael felt the aspects of herself all belonged on different sheets and so found it difficult to put them on one sheet. An interesting series arose, the common thread being a sense of movement. Colour also stood out.

I painted trees, a colourful dress, Genevieve and Miranda’s (my daughters’ hair – to represent them) Mum on her last day, waves, an eye and my freckles.

And then Giuseppe Arcimboldo, an early caricaturist, who painted the seasons like leafy, woody old men. Not saying we’re that….we took inspiration. Rachael didn’t have a favourite season, but likes the sea, so she drew a seaweed necklace, shells, seahorses, snails and a seagull, to show this aspect of herself that is drawn to the sea. And her face was in profile, a three-quarters profile.

I could see her in this picture.

I painted straight on, with autumn leaves, green, browns, oranges, reds and yellow in my hair. My favourite season.

When Rachael left at the end of the day, I felt energised. Now, I’m shattered!DSC03536DSC03537DSC03540

Thank you for painting today, Rachael, and for so much more.