2 March 2014

sombre times

I have sacrificed blogging in the interests of Legato lately. There is so much to do, particularly with the extra exhibition at Ortona this year. I am about to email my text for the Ortona catalogue to be translated into Italian, and then I can (almost) give my attention to my own projects. But there are another couple of deadlines to meet, commitments to honour first. 

Yesterday I exhibited my own paintings (that makes a nice change!) in Cassino at an immigrants festival. It was mostly a joyous occasion, with dancing, singing, live music and a lot of colour. Immigrants do bring colour to the uniform black of an Italian winter wardrobe. 

But there were two very tragic notes to the festival. The organisers included representatives from the group "Se Non Ora, Quando?" (If not now, when?) At the table by the entrance to the festivities was a chair with a poster on it, proclaiming that the chair was occupied. I didn't take a lot of notice of it as I set up my paintings. And then I read the poster. 

Posto Occupato.   (Click for link). 

You don't need to read Italian to understand the message here. The figures for domestic violence and violence against women are high. I try to write only positive things about Italy, but this is a bigger issue than my loyalty to my adopted country. It is not unusual to hear (here) that "if there is no jealousy it is not real love". I maintain that if it is real love there is no need for jealousy. Jealousy always has a negative form, and love is joyous and positive. 

That was not the only pause for thought. Many of the immigrants living in Cassino are from the Ukraine. Their costumes were colourful, their needlework and crafts lovely. But when it was their turn to speak they called first for a minute of silence to reflect on what is happening in their country and to honour the victims of a recent siege. One of the women amongst us lost her brother two weeks ago, killed because he was thought to be a fascist. I couldn't keep back my tears. 

The Ukraine women spoke so fervently, and so passionately, about how grateful they are to Italy for giving them safe harbour and work. It made me feel very removed from reality. I live here because I choose to, not because I need to. I also felt very small, and when it was my turn to talk about myself I found that I had very little to say. How very privileged we are, in New Zealand, to be safe from invasion, to be free from the kind of violence that my friends with families still in Venezuela and the Ukraine have to fear.

My next exhibition is also in Cassino, at the festival for women. Again it should be a joyous occasion, but this year is being marked in a different way. Seventy years ago the women in this region were suffering hardships in an occupied and devastated land. The art works I take with me next week are so very different from those I took yesterday. We are discussing the effects of the war on women in a three day event. It will be very sobering and sad. I will try to focus on friendships and positives, because there is only so much sadness I can endure. 

In June I am looking forward very much to visits from happy friends, and Legato will be behind me. Laughter and pleasure will be the order of the day. 

But there are still many weeks until June, and this blog will fall casualty again. 

Thank you for patiently returning even when I haven't been posting, and forgive me for not taking many photos for you these days. 

Today I am grateful for women who are not afraid to speak out. 

1 comment:

Sarah said...

It's a wicked world, but it's the one we have.

My love to you.