Friday, 11 April 2014

Trippy London: Naomi Blake, Gandhi and Andres Bello

“Do stuff. be clenched, curious. Not waiting for inspiration's shove or society's kiss on your forehead. Pay attention. It's all about paying attention. attention is vitality. It connects you with others. It makes you eager. stay eager.” 
― Susan Sontag

I met Jeff from St Ethelburga's Centre for Reconciliation and Peace the other evening. We went to a private view of Naomi Blake's: Retrospective at the Curwen Gallery. It was quite surreal being in a small space filled with immaculately dressed old people. I met a reverend and a map maker and watched Naomi Blake somewhat in awe, ninety years old, so frail yet so gracious and strong, an Auschwitz survivor, a visionary and an artist. The crowd went silent as her son, also quite an otherworldly character, humorous and upright, and daughter talked about her life and her achievements. It was like being at a private party, a close knit family gathering, and to watch as an outsider, to peer in with no knowledge, and little understanding- to peer through the curtains into another world, another time- incredible. Before Jeff and I went in to the small gallery, he relayed to me the story of Naomi Blake, it was one of epic courage and pain but also inspiration and optimism. Naomi's daughter, Anita is currently finishing off her mother's biography. Read here to find out more Naomi's sculptures were really evocative and beautiful....

Afterwards Jeff and I went to the Indian YMCA, which was equally bizarre, it was incredibly fascinating to see Gandhi's pictures everywhere, another visionary, another change maker! The interior, the plaques and indian art, the prayer request box, the strong indian accents and the heat heat... it was quite like being back in Lahore. And so we sat outside in the courtyard amongst the palm trees and reflections on glass talking about near death experiences and life and connections and being and when its hard to be- when you spend so much time 'being' someone else or a small part of yourself, the nights, the early mornings are yours-to get it back, to share, to understand. So after dinner and tea, we walked again...

We went to Bolivar Hall, and passed the place where Andres Bello lived. Inside the hall there was a TV playing Venezuelan news and lots of Venezuelan people and a film had just ended. Strange- three hours, three people, all connected, all within the same area; the night sort of epitomised everything I love about London, culture, diversity, place and people. Didn't take any pictures I liked, so won't post, but check out these places for yourself!