Writings from the Sand Volume 2: the collected works of Isabelle Eberhardt, edited by Marie-Odile Delacour and Jean-Rene Huleu
Book review of volume 2 of Eberhardt’s travels and life in North Africa at the turn of the twentieth-century. Available from Taylor and Francis online. For a free copy email me here.
Documenting Black Women’s Political Activism
This article published in the The London LGBT Almanac 2nd Edition. traces the development of black LBT women’s political consciousness from 1980s Britain to the present. The London LGBT Almanac 2nd Edition is a uniquely designed print publication with new research findings and original creative essays, visual art, photography, and poetry from acclaimed photographers and diverse contributors. The London LGBT Almanac 2nd Edition has made headlines and received excellent reviews –Just £34.99 or £24.99 concession, with all proceeds going to support the charity centred. Just email firstname.lastname@example.org
“The historic Italian capital of Rome provides the backdrop to this short film featuring Orwell Prize-winning writer, academic and broadcaster Delia Jarrett-Macauley and Rome-based Italian writer and illustrator Roberto Recchioni.
Exploring the city, they talk about the effect location has on their writing, and how Rome was utilised in Shakespeare’s works Antony and Cleopatra, Titus Andronicus, Coriolanus and Julius Caesar to explore themes of love, people, power and the city”. This is part of 8 short films by the British Council to celebrate their Shakespeare Lives programme.
I am posted this not just because Delia is a good friend but also because it reminds me of my many walks in Mexican cities particularly Queretaro!
Amelia Murray was so enthralled by the horizon on board the Halifax on her way to Canada that she turned to art to enliven her reactions. Women travellers were often very knowledgeable about art and artists. Some women sketched and painted whilst abroad and some even travelled specifically to pursue their love of art. Marianne North’s botantical drawings, which are held at Kew, are one example of art merged with extensive travel. Below I’d like to share my experiences of an art holiday I took in France last year. On this holiday it gradually dawned on me why women felt that, whilst abroad, they could explore and expand their artistic talents. Having the space and time to draw, paint and sketch was amazing and I found myself doing the same thing. I returned to London after a week with chalk drawings, collage, sketches and a half filled sketch book! A true lady traveller!
“Last summer I travelled from Poitiers by train to Angouleme a town famous for its annual comic festival. On the way to Chateauneuf-sur-Charent, the small town where I would spend 7 days on a painting course, I saw fields of sunflowers and miles of vines. The natural light was startling, and I immediately understood why so many French artists painted the landscape.
Firstly we experimented with water colour by making nebulous colour wheels; then we used collage to make sketches and paintings. Overall, we used the wonderful nineteenth-century painted house as inspiration.
The most challenging task for me was finding a composition showing a door through a door. I couldn’t get the dimensions right and swapping between spectacles wasn’t working – I became frustrated. That I cannot always see detail frustrates me but in my art it’s not important there’s always a solution. Eventually I relaxed and looked for the blocks of colour and the dark and light tones. So as I shaded in the darkest objects, I made a whole drawing.
Making wet on wet was also interesting – I wetted thick water colour paper and drew on top with watercolour paint and pencils. An elderly lady passer-by said of my paintings “yes they pass the time don’t they?” Although I like to think I did more than just ‘pass the time’ it was in some ways true. My holiday went by quickly, the brilliant light came and went and before I knew it I was back at Poitiers airport with my symbol cane which saw nothing of France for 7 days.”
Interested in reading more about my experiences of travelling with a visual impairment in London and beyond? Check out my regular blog posts on Living Paintings Blog
The Honourable Amelia Murray, the subject of my talk on Monday night at Paddington library, reminded me of something important – when is it too late to go travelling?
Murray travelled at age 59, as my research has shown travelling over 40 was unusual for women. Travelling alone, as she did, was even rarer. So I am reminded as someone who is not so far off from that grand age that it is never too late to go wandering. As Tolkien said ‘Not all those who wander are lost’. This conjures up images of us all wandering aimlessly but I don’t think this is what Tolkien meant or what I propose. Murray’s journey was certainly not aimless – it was a well thought out trip to Canada, the United States and Cuba by steam ship in 1854. But whilst reading her letters, I did question why she waited so late in life to take such a big trip was she searching for something more than her life at Queen Victoria’s court? When I travelled at 39 to Mexico, I thought I was having an early mid life crisis, but it was there I decided my interest in travel was more than just that..it was an unquenchable obsession! Perhaps in travelling, writing and publishing her letters, Murray realised the same thing.
Today I had a sharp reminder about my process of writing on the history of travel -how formulaic it is, even predictable. I was stressing about completing a piece of work then after looking at all I had written I thought, I am there. When writing, I am constantly trying to fit pieces in at random, almost in the dark. then I get stuck – quite a few times, throw pieces in and more often than not, get lost completely. I liken the end piece to a huge scaffold or a building covered with scaffold – lots inside. This process was a familiar feeling. I remember when I was writing my thesis, I got to a stage when I thought I would never stop writing draft after draft. Would it ever be right? Now after several more drafts and articles I am aware that I know when I am there in other words when to stop! I feel writing about travel is like gathering materials for my building covered in scaffold. Often when I am writing about a person who has travelled somewhere there is so much to consider where they are from, where they went, what’s the historical backdrop – as my history teacher used to say.