I've been in France for the last week - it's been beautiful, joyful, tearful, educational, and full of past, present, and future. I've visited the towns of Montaigu and Clisson, and the city of Nantes. I've spent time with wonderful people, and sketched in the amazing galleries. I've visited the beautiful palace grounds and eaten incredible crepes, tarts, croissants, and ice creams. I've also walked a ton and drunk a lot of coffee. The cherry on top of it all is that I visited the Paris College of Art and realized that this is definitely one of the places I want to go for my graduate degree. And now I head back to Paris to visit more museums, more churches, and become even more inspired to create beautiful work.
Rooted on the coast between the cities of Naples and Rome lies a holiday town of 50 000 people. Currently the town has bloomed to hold about a quarter million people. Terracina is a lovely place full of gelaterias cafes and a myriad of restaurants. Of course the highlights are the historic town centre on the hill close to the ancient temple of Jupiter, and, the boardwalk along the sea. The star of the town, however, is the sea - the Mediterranean Sea. Warm with nice gentle waves that can be played in and incredibly salty, it reminds me of Mombasa in the 90's. The sand is soft and hot, the air, hot and humid. People everywhere. And the sea - Warm, gentle, rolling, wavy - I could quite literally spend all day in it. It's really really lovely. Feeling blessed.
Today I visited Pompeii. I was warned by my lovely friend to wear sunscreen, to wear a hat, and "are you sure you want to go today?". I did of course. And wow that heat is killer, but I just had to see the famed city frozen in time. Armed with a sketchbook, my purse, and a skimpy tank top and short shorts I was already dripping sweat by the time I got to the Garabaldi station. From there I took the circumvisuviana train to Pompeii Scavi. The train was incredibly packed and I was glad to have my water with me. Arriving a half hour later at Pompeii I was excited. I passed a myriad of people selling tours from 12-150 euros. These tours do not include the entrance fee. Of course me being me and thinking well I've studied this quite a lot - I should be fine - decided no tour - just get in, wander, figure it out. After entering the park I was sooo lost, the only drawbacks of Pompeii the site is that there is only one cafeteria selling food and water, line ups are an hour long, and that the signage within the site is the poorest I've ever witnessed. So I followed the tour groups which low and behold led me out of the site only to have to explain to security that I'd been in the site for only 10 minutes and after taking pity on this "stupid" girl - they let me back in. So finally I am within Pompeii walls and I begin to wander - the site is massive - a full city, it goes on for winding stretches, thankfully there are water fountains about and I keep having to refill my bottle. As I weave in and out of streets and buildings I am even more fascinated and lost. It's a completely different society frozen in time - even children and pets have been frozen in time in otherworldly casts. The disturbing natural casts show people in their final moments - there is a man in prayer, a child laying down looking helpless, also a dog. There are bits of murals and colours decorating certain walls within some buildings, and mosaics on the floor. With mountains surrounding Pompeii,as well as the volcano, one begins to understand how the people must have just thought the Vesuvius was an angry god or mountain and carried on with their lives while smoke rose out the top of the volcano. What is fascinating is that Vesuvius is still active, in fact it's closed today because of fires on its sides. And that considered one would think that there would be no one now living close to the volcano but many small towns and cities have popped up along its base, and like long ago, people go about their daily lives. As archeologists continue to excavate the site they find even more ancient ruins under the city frozen in time. They begin to learn even more about the peoples of long ago in Italy. An amazing place to visit, take heed for the heat which is very strong, but enjoy and make a day of it. At the end of my day I am exhausted but happy, feet filled with blisters and skin sore, but also filled with a new understanding and a new wonder of this incredible place.
I am back in Naples for the first time in almost 10 years. It has become a safe city. And so for the first time I feel as though I am truly experiencing all its wonders. The day was gorgeous. The sun high, zero clouds, extreme heat and humidity and I am thrilled. I walk through the narrow winding roads, sampling grantias - Italian slurpees or snow cones that are quite delicious and gelatos - Italian ice cream. I take in sites of the sea with Mount Vesuvius in the backdrop people out sailing and swimming and a lot of people tanning on the rocks along the boardwalk tracing the seaside. I take in the opulent architecture of the city seeing some splendid churches and statues amongst the tall closely knit buildings in an array of Mediterranean colours. It is lunch time an I can choose between fresh pasta, mozzarella sandwiches, or pizza, I choose pasta. After lunch I take a coffee in a cafeteria. I walk more, I rest, I walk more. People are friendly - they smile and start conversations. Naples is a great place to visit!
So today was fantastic! Met up with an old friend from junior high whose currently finishing up her Masters degree in London and got lots of tips! We also went out for an amazing cafe! Later I headed back to Goldsmiths to find out more about the Masters of Children's Literature and Illustration. The administration there is really lovely! They graciously led me to both the education department and media department where the double degree takes place, and at which time I met some more wonderful people who were more than willing to answer questions and the likes. I got a peak at the illustration and animation departments and chilled in the new media building which overlooks the green and the old reception building of old weathered but pristinely maintained brick covered in ivy. Chilling meant sketching away and then running into another children's book illustrator and chatting away 😊! Now I am getting ready to meet another wonderful person before jetting of to Italy where I am so fortunate to be able to stay with even more wonderful people!! Feeling very grateful!
I arrived in London on Friday, and although it's been a short visit to London, it's been a great time so far... visiting family, amazing cousins, amazing nieces and nephews, eating a ton, and then today, also visiting Goldsmiths University! It's one of the places I am considering for grad school and so I thought it best to visit and find out more - get a vibe for the school, it's administration and profs and for the area. The programs I am looking into there are the MFA and the Masters in Children's Literature and Illustration. Today I made it out to the final day of the MFA exhibit and most definitely saw some interesting stuff. The highlights of the exhibit, for myself, were the pieces dealing with identity and pluralism... and also a performance artist singing and dancing in a room covered in graffiti- made my day 🤗 and wishing I had taken a video. The campus itself is almost village-like, the views are great, it's close to central London, the area is cute and they do offer housing on campus. Studios are a good size too! Tomorrow I'll be talking in greater detail with someone about the 2 specific programs, and then... Italy... here I come!
Willka is on for 4 more days at the ArtPoint Gallery in Ramsey, Calgary. Today, and then on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday next week from 1-5 pm.
Thanks to everyone who's come out so far!!
Currently I've received 6 rejection letters :) from publishers in regard to my children's book. The kindest rejection letter was actually personal - Yay! - and telling me that I should pursue getting the book printed on my own as it's pretty much ready to go, is strong in writing and concept, and is visually appealing - so at least that's good news! Anyhow, I am now pursuing getting the book ready for print and in the talks with a printing house. Learning so much about publishing, layout, getting ISBN numbers, etc. The next area of learning in regard to this project will be marketing and promo! So all in all, things are moving ahead!
Based on the flow of water - oil on canvas - 2/8 in series - drop and splash
Tahira Nusrat Karim