Interior happiness

Dalì and Magritte


A day in Brussels.

Have you visited this exposition already? Were you impressed?

For me visiting a museum is a good way to relax. A good way to be inspired, set my mind on other things.

Dalì and Magritte are both phenomenal artists. All their works combined in one expo is fabulous. I loved it.

Surrealism is destructive, but it destroys only what it considers to be shackles limiting our vision.
Salvador Dalì

The works are hung together by connecting subjects, for instance “dream x hallucination,” “Georgette x Gala,” and “softness x desire.”

Afbeeldingsresultaat voor gala in Dali's paintingsImage result for photo gala and salvador"Gala was Dalì’s muse and lifelong partner after they met in 1929. Gala has long been considered equal part muse and monster. She was first married to the poet Paul Eluard. The couple had an open marriage, and Éluard took pleasure in introducing Gala to new lovers, including Max Ernst who left his wife to join the couple in a sometimes fraught ménage à trois (did you see the Netflix series You Me Her?  Well they must have been inspired by Gala). Over the decades Dalí painted her repeatedly – as a giant head smiling serenely in a barren landscape, with a lamb chop resting on her shoulder like a military epaulette, as a fractured Raphaelesque Madonna, or calmly opening her shirt to reveal her left breast.

Magritte’s muse was his wife Georgette, a middle-class catholic woman. They married in 1922. She appeared often in the paintings but is only occasionally named, mostly in private portraits.  Georgette was a far more modest woman than Gala.
Did you know Paul Simon wrote a song about René and Georgette Magritte?
Georgette et René .jpg
Image result for georgette magritte painting"
Above, René and Georgette, Georgette painted by René. Under ‘The Enigma of Desire’ by Dalì

My friend Leen and I talked about how much you can see in Dalì’s paintings. They are indeed often as an image of a dream, where people, places, memories and desires come together in a weird way.

The work of Sigmund Freud was profoundly influential for Surrealists, particularly his book, The Interpretation of Dreams (1899). Freud legitimized the importance of dreams and the unconscious as valid revelations of human emotion and desires; his exposure of the complex and repressed inner worlds of sexuality, desire, and violence provided a theoretical basis for much of Surrealism.

Dalì and Magritte met in the spring of 1929, in Paris. In the summer of that year, Magritte traveled to Spain, to Dalì’s house. Gala and Paul Éluard joined the party, and Dalí began an affair with Gala.

There sure was a rivalry between the two artists. Dalì was financially successful from the early years, in contrast to Magritte who needed to take commercial work to survive. Magritte only received a decent income from his art in the 50’s. They also were very different on a political level. Magritte followed the Belgian communist party and Dalì supported the facists and falangists. It was more a sentimental political favoritism than an ideological one.

If you want to know more, I found a deep analysis on this blog by Alexander Adams.

Image result for rene magritte graphic design"After having seen the expo, we also went to the permanent Magritte museum, which has many works of Magritte and also goes deeper into his personal life. Magritte did a lot of graphic design in the beginning.

But if you are intrigued, do visit this beautiful exhibition, it is open till February 9, 2020.

And if you have seen it, let me know how you felt!

Ciao, Sophie

 

 

 

 

Stories

Beyond Borders

Dutch version below

Hi There,

Beyond Borders  is the title of our new project. The opening was last week Tuesday in the Town Hall of my hometown.

So what does this new project is about?
Well, it won’t be a surprise. It combines two of my passions, photography and working with people. And these people are, of course, the inhabitants of the refugee center here. We – me and two very good photographers, Manu and Marie – made a portrait of seventeen people, focusing on their job, hobby or dream job.

Why?
Well, often people ask me if it is tough working at the center. And honestly, I usually feel happy when I am there. The people are all very kind, polite and grateful. I feel surrounded by warmth and appreciation. But when I am in the outside world, it becomes different.  I hear criticism, judgments, lies… It is easy to talk about a group of people, not knowing them. The criticism really shocks me by times, certainly because so many people from the center have shown their vulnerability by telling me what they had been through. Believe me, it is not something people here often encounter, not even in a lifetime. Most refugees who come here are still very young and have been through a lot.

Melany, Venezuela, Baker

Sanaz, Iran, mother

Our goal?
Taking off the label of  “refugee” and  showing these seventeen people as real people, with dreams, professions, children, hopes, diplomas, talents, ambitions.
A few people also wrote about having to flee from their own country.  Their words are heartbreaking.

I’m still stuck…

I’m still stuck between the past and the present… Between love and hate…

I’m still stuck between sadness and joy… Between my old and new country…

I’m still stuck in the hearts of dead and alive people… Am I dead or alive?

I’m still stuck… And I still have that idea that when I open my eyes every morning…

I’m starting to get used to this new country…

I tried hard to figure out the causes of these wars and revolutions and the wrong policies that have taken over the country. I’ve looked at the legends of history and between the geography papers. All I found were a few words about the greatness and authenticity of my country…

And now I have only found a wounded child screaming. And a mother looking for her children between destruction and blood. A daughter follows her, runs away from the enemy…

We didn’t know what homelessness meant until we became refugees. We go east, west, north, and south. We’re crossing seas and oceans with bags on our shoulders, but our eyes are looking behind us. We’re looking at a country where we’ve left all our dreams and memories.

Every day and with every sunshine, refugees pray to God in the language of hope. Wishing that he finishes wars worldwide. So that they can go back home.

By Mohamad, Syria, actor

How?
We tried to bring diversity in land of origin, profession, age and sex. Most of the people I asked to join the project I already knew from teaching. Everyone was very happy to work together. On one hot summer day in August, we built a photo studio in our house. It was a beautiful day, working and laughing and eating together. Our models behaved as professional models! And we are all very proud of the result.
Mourad, Palestine, Fisherman

Alexandra, Venezuela, make-up artist
Merhawit, Eritrea, baker

Where?
You can admire our photos on banners in Lommel, until the end of December. And please follow us on Instagram @portraits.beyondborders

Next?
This team of people is great, and we want to go on. In November the photo banners will be placed on the playground of the high schools. We would like to combine this with a talk with the students. We can talk about why certain countries are so dangerous and why people need to go away and how it feels to come to a new country, where you have to start all over.

Help?
For the photos we were supported by the local Rotary (Neerpelt) and the restaurant Nomad. But if we continue, we need more support. You can send me a personal message if you can help our team of wonderful people.

At the opening, these are the words I spoke:

Dear Alexander, Alexandra, Ana, Diego, Elvis, Gabriella, Ginger, Jakub, Luisa, Mahmoud, Mario, Mariam, Matta, Melany, Merhawit, Mohamad, Murad, Ninette, Patricia, Ricardo and Sanaz,

You are all amazing people and we feel very grateful for working together on this photo-project.

We have learned to know you
Little by little

You have showed us your openness
By telling us the stories
Of wars in your home countries
Of your struggle for human rights
Of your journey by plane, by boat, by foot,
during days, during months, during years
crossing many borders

All in your search for a better life,
far away from your home and your family

You showed us your strength,
By telling us the stories
Of your fight against hunger, cold and rejection
Of your desire to forget
Of your battle against dehumanization
Of your hope of being accepted for who you are

You taught us
To stay positive
To believe in the goodness of other human beings
To have faith
To fight for the future of your children
And to continue to live
No matter what

You were confronted with the limits
Of a new country, a new language and a new culture

You crossed borders
Between your past and your future
Between your homeland and our homeland

We only hope the best for you

May you know peace
May you find happiness
May you know love
May you find faith in a better future

We wish you well

All of you

Ninette, Burundi, model

 

Dag lieve lezers,

Nog even in mijn mooie moedertaal!

Ons nieuwe project ‘Beyond Borders’ staat nu aan het Huis van de Stad in Lommel. Wij – Manu, Marie en ik, hebben samengewerkt met zeventien modellen van het Parelstrand, het vluchtelingenopvangcentrum hier in Lommel.

Op het Hertog Janplein kan je vanaf 1 oktober de reizende foto-expo ‘Beyond Borders’ bewonderen. Initiatiefnemers zijn Sophie Tournier, Marie Bouly en Manu Bloemen. Zij kenden elkaar al langer en beslisten om een nieuw project op poten te zetten rond het tijdelijke opvangcentrum op het domein Parelstrand. Hun drijfveer? Een mengeling van engagement, naastenliefde en passie voor fotografie. Maar vooral de drang om mensen in beeld te brengen. Geen asielzoekers, geen vluchtelingen, geen transmigranten, geen labels, maar gewoon… mensen. Het resultaat is een boeiende fotoreeks van 17 portretten van bewoners met als thema ‘Beroepen’.

Al sinds de opening van het Parelstrand begin dit jaar, ben ik aan de slag gegaan als vrijwilliger: Nederlandse les, het project 945 in Beeld, wandelingen en bezoekjes organiseren. Ik kom er vaak.  Een aantal bewoners staat erg dicht bij me. Je kan niet met mensen werken, zonder betrokken te raken (ondanks de steeds goed bedoelde raad: waak over je grenzen!). Niemand vertelt zijn levensverhaal bij een eerste ontmoeting. Nadat het vertrouwen gewonnen is, gebeurt dat wel. Luisteren is meestal  voldoende, heb ik gemerkt. Soms kan je ook concreet helpen, maar vaak niet.
Patricia, El Salvador, Engineer

Mariam, Palestine-Ukraine, student-singer, 15

Hoe pijnlijk en hartverscheurend de verhalen van de bewoners ook zijn, het moeilijkste vind ik de commentaren van mensen van buitenaf. De kritiek, de oordelen zonder grond. Daarom ben ik heel blij met dit project, en om met fantastische mensen te kunnen werken, uit alle hoeken van de wereld.
Jakub, Ghana, carpenter

We hebben hier thuis de fotoshoot gedaan. Een hartverwarmende dag. Iedereen was blij en gemotiveerd, we hebben samen gegeten, gebabbeld, gelachen…

In november staan de fotobanners in de secundaire scholen. De mensen van ons team willen graag komen praten met de studenten, om zo rechtstreeks te kunnen praten over wat er in hun geboorteland en de wereld gebeurt. Directer en actueler kan je de jongeren niet aanspreken. Zo hopen we om bij de jeugd meer begrip en empathie te creëren.

Voor de foto’s zelf hebben we reeds sponsors, maar voor dit educatief project zijn we nog op zoek naar steun. Een persoonlijk berichtje graag indien jullie willen helpen.

Tolerance, inter-cultural dialogue and respect for diversity are more essential than ever in a world where peoples are becoming more and more closely interconnected.
Kofi Annan

Ik wens jullie allen een mooie dag, met weinig zorgen. Lieve groet, Sophie

From left: Merhawit & Abraham, Melany, me, Ninette et bébé Shanah, Mohamad, Matta, Ricardo

 

 

 

 

 

 

Puglia

Wine Tasting in Puglia

Yes, there will always be wine… That is a comforting thought. We did a wine tasting here in Puglia in July. But more on that later.

We are back here now, at Casa Vita. And it has been so relaxing so far. The weather is perfect. I really prefer this time of year. The days are not too hot, and in the evenings you still don’t need a sweater. The days have been slow and easy.

September is perfect because all the fruit has ripened: grapes, gorbezolli, figs, pomegranate…All the yuccas are in bloom.

The first week I was accompanied by my sweet friend Habiba. We visited some towns, went to the Ionic coast. I will bring you in the atmosphere with some photos.


In July we were here with the family,e and visited I Pastini. It is located in the Valle d’Itria (the Valley of the trulli) here in Puglia.

A very knowledgeable guide walked with us through the grapevines and explained about all the types of grapes and the wines that are made out of it. They make wine out of native grape varieties such as Verdeca, Bianco d’Allessano and Minutolo (white grapes), Susumaniello and Primitivo (red grapes) to get a typical and authentic wine.

At the end of each row of vines, there is a rosebush growing. By the state of the roses, the farmers can check whether there are damaging insects getting into the vineyard.

About twenty farmers are trained in the art of harvesting. The grapes are harvested by hand in the early hours of the morning and then placed in small boxes, after the best bunches are carefully selected.

In the buildings we could see the high technology that is used in the whole process of making wine from grapes.

After the tour–the sublime moment of wine tasting. We were welcome to taste a big range of wines, with Pastini’s Spumante Brut as a finale. This sparkling wine grown and processed locally from Verdeca grapes was conceived to stun the nose and the palate!

Cheers to lovely Puglia!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stories

About War

Hi there,

How are you?
You are brave, wanting to read my story after you have read the title.

In my childhood I was stalked by my father with stories about the Wars, one and two equally. He needed to watch all movies, series, documentaries. Not being able to watch something else on my own screen back then – I am that old 😉 – I developed an aversion to everything that had a connection with the war. So I missed big chunks of interesting history too.

Wars never stand in isolation.
It is almost as if they have roots
that grow invisibly underground,
before springing up somewhere else
to create a new conflict. We must not be blind
to the forces that set the machinery of destiny in motion
one hundred years ago.
To do so would rob us of the chance to discover
the patterns of the past that can help to teach us
the lessons we need for the present and the future.

By Erwin Mortier

Last year Belgium remembered the end of World War II. There were exhibitions, and old museums were renovated, among them ‘Flanders Fields‘ in Ypres. And that is where hubbie and I went to, last Saturday.

It was a rainy day, and I had been to Ypres once, but I couldn’t remember much of it. Ypres is a beautiful little town. And known for its history. We first had a coffee in the large cafeteria and then headed to the museum.

In the museum, you receive a poppy-bracelet which represents 4 identities of people who lived during WWI.

This poppy-bracelet can be used throughout the museum on a wide variety of interactive displays. Each display will show one of the aspects of living during the war of 1914-1918.

There are also testimonies, on videos, played by actors. But they looked real and were very touching. The movie of the Christmas night was the most moving, I thought, though I had heard the well-known story several times. In this testimony it was played by four soldiers, English, French, German and Belgian. How they, only for a short moment, ceased the war and sang together:

On a crisp, clear morning 100 years ago, thousands of British, Belgian and French soldiers put down their rifles, stepped out of their trenches and spent Christmas mingling with their German enemies along the Western front. In the hundred years since, the event has been seen as a kind of miracle, a rare moment of peace just a few months into a war that would eventually claim over 15 million lives. But what actually happened on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day of 1914 — and did they really play soccer on the battlefield?
Most accounts suggest the truce began with carol singing from the trenches on Christmas Eve, “a beautiful moonlit night, frost on the ground, white almost everywhere”, as Pvt. Albert Moren of the Second Queens Regiment recalled.
The next morning, in some places, German soldiers emerged from their trenches, calling out “Merry Christmas” in English. Allied soldiers came out warily to greet them. In others, Germans held up signs reading “You no shoot, we no shoot.” Over the course of the day, troops exchanged gifts of cigarettes, food, buttons and hats. The Christmas truce also allowed both sides to finally bury their dead comrades, whose bodies had lain for weeks on “no man’s land,” the ground between opposing trenches.
By Time

Facts, as to how many Belgians fled to other countries during the Great War, have their value in being remembered. There were over 600,000 Belgians that found a home abroad, about 8% of the population.


The museum is located in the Cloth Hall (Dutch: Lakenhal), one of the largest commercial buildings of the Middle Ages. It served as the main market and warehouse for the Flemish city’s prosperous cloth industry. The original structure, erected mainly in the 13th century and completed 1304, lay in ruins after artillery fire devastated Ypres in World War I. Between 1933 and 1967, the hall was meticulously reconstructed to its prewar condition.

We also climbed up the 70 meters high (230 feet) bell tower. Even if it was windy and grey, it gave us a beautiful wide view over the city and the surrounding hills.

And around Ypres you can not go anywhere without seeing the numerous graveyards of so many people of so many different nations. In their silence and in their death, these soldiers are left with only one mission: reminding us of the horrors of war, then and now.

In a country where war was fought, it lingers, even if that war is already a century behind us. For each of the more than 600,000 dead who fell here, for each of the more than 425,000 graves and names on memorials and for the hundreds of traces and relics in the front region, for each of the millions affected (physically or psychologically wounded, refugees and displaced persons) there is a story of suffering, pain and ordeal somewhere in the world.

And let this memory shake us awake, make us realize there are still so many wars going on, and still so many people trying to find a safer place elsewhere.

Take care,

Sophie

 

Puglia

Family time @ Casa Vita

Hello there,

Yes we are having quality time now. How wonderful it feels to be here all together.

Days are warm and slow. But we enjoy every bit of it.

Hubbie and I drove here, over Germany and Switzerland. We spent one day in Bologna. What a pretty university town! I loved all the galleries with their mixed stone floors (terrazzo before it became a hype).

And then from Bologna straight to Ostuni, another thousand kilometers. It was pretty hot back then, but the plants in the yard of Casa Vita were in great shape.

Wednesday we made a boat trip from Monopoli to Polignano a Mare. We went into some caves under the cliffs.

A walk through the streets of Monopoli.

Yesterday we went to the Ionic coast, on the other side of the heel in Puglia, south from Taranto.  You can find beautiful sandy beaches there. On this side, the Adriatic, we have a more rocky coastline, beautiful too. On our way up there, we stopped at Grottaglie, the city of the ceramics!


At the beach.

You know I always like to add little things to the house, to make it more cozy. This time we brought a rattan swing (no, that wasn’t a small thing). Hubbie hung it under the porch with some help from all of us 😉 It will surely become the most romantic spot of Casa Vita!

And do you want to know where I am writing right now? I am in my green corner in the living room–it was a bit rainy this afternoon–while I am getting a free refill of Gin Tonic by Daughter’s boyfriend (he is scoring!). Now it’s off to spread out the fresh pizza dough. Yes, pizza night! I will share the recipe again here.

Well, dolce far niente brings peace of mind, surely!

Ciao, Sophia