Light of Andalucía

Sally and I have just heard from some friends who are holidaying in Spain; currently in Granada to be precise. They’re finding the time as happy and as inspiring as we did some six years ago.

It will soon become more so with their planned visit to la Alhambra, the magnificent Moorish palace overlooking the Albayzin. Here is a magical maze of ridiculously narrow streets, buildings, tumbling and fragrant gardens, ancient walls and stairs and blind alleys formed over centuries of habitation; of building and destruction and building again.

There over the ages Jews, Christians and Moslems lived peacefully together in a co-operative acceptance of one another’s beliefs, which inevitably broke down sometimes, overwhelmed by disruptive influences mostly from the outside. During its tumultuous history the Albayzin became a despised ruin, gradually crumbling away, from around 1570 until its rescue in 1994 by Unesco. The Albayzin was declared a World Heritage Site and now it shines and captures the imagination of the residents and visitors once again.

I’m telling you this because I have just finished reading a fascinating book called ‘Granada – The Light of Andalucía’ by Steven Nightingale. If you too are an Espagniofile, to coin a phrase, I recommend it to you. It’s an absorbing story; one of unfolding and unprecedented intellectual blossoming during the centuries after the post-Roman period and leading up to 1492. Few realise the debt the Western world owes to Spain’s scholars, artists and philosophers.

But with the calamitous advent of Ferdinand and Isabella, that Golden age came to an end and all that had been achieved was unforgivably wasted. Spain became an intellectual and cultural backwater instead of the shining light in scientific and philosophical discovery that it had been. And the rest of poor old us had to wait centuries to catch up with many of those forgotten discoveries.

As a simple artist there’s not much I can do about that. But I can dream; and I have photographs and strongly instilled memories of the atmosphere, the sky, the sounds and the silences – the overwhelming feeling that the past is ever present. Its influence is with me still. Perhaps I will be able to share with you a little of its magic.

I have done only a few SiPaddings and paintings inspired by our Spanish trip; there will be more to come.

But at the moment I’m a bit consumed with the unfamiliar involvement in this website. It presents challenges of a kind that I thought I’d left behind me when I grew up. I must be still waiting to do that; grow up i.e. Well, at least I don’t blame the Spanish for inventing the Internet.

(Although if it hadn’t been for Ferdie and Isabella, who knows?)

Posted By Simon Chilvers on July 5, 2016 at 9:04 am
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