A Journal of Events

It’s not every day the door bell rings and your postman hands you an unexpected parcel through the rain. Once in a lifetime (if you’re lucky) I’m guessing, will you open the wrapping on such a find. In this case a 90 year old handwritten journal detailing a journey taken by sisters – one of whom was the extraordinary artist and anti-fascist Felicia Browne, who I got to know rather well through the Arts Council funded project Through An Artist’s Eye.

A Journal of Events – commencing January 31st 1927 is exactly that thing – and I am exactly in that place of awe and wonder. As I stroke the cover and marvel at the exquisite handwriting and animated stick drawings I’m simultaneously pinching myself.

The journal traces a trip to southern France, but the tone is set in the first pages by a quite hilarious declaration “Relating to Mutual Behaviour & Deportment” solemnly signed by Felicia and Helen.  Hungry glances further ahead confirm that it’s brimming with incident and reveals that while Felicia missed out on a visit to the Lourve in 1936 (en route to Barcelona) she was there in 1927. In 1936 she’d wandered the streets of Paris in a state of savage loneliness finding even the Lourve closed to her for Bastille celebrations. Her companion Dr Edith Bone had abandoned her for other friends and she was dizzied and alienated by Paris on this occasion.  Within weeks she would be shot dead by enemy fire near a railway bridge in Tardienta (Aragon). She was the only British woman to fight in the Spanish Civil War and the first British volunteer to die in combat. Her 1927 journey could not have been more of a contrast it seems. I’m so incredibly glad for her.

I’m somewhat busy on other projects these days, but it seemed fitting to blog about this extraordinary journal as a postscript to TAAE. There’s a whole new chapter of the story and the potential for more creative responses held in these pages.

My immense gratitude to Felicia’s nephew – the ever generous Peter Marshall – for sending it to me to read and scan before I return it. I think my first job is an email to all my TAAE collaborators with the news!

Through An Artist’s Eye at the Cañada Blanch Centre, LSE.

Thank you to Professor Paul Preston for inviting us to present our work at the LSE and for chairing the Seminar. Thanks also to Susana Grau for the photographs. felicia-browne-seminar-17-11-16-6felicia-browne-seminar-17-11-16-7felicia-browne-seminar-17-11-16-12felicia-browne-seminar-17-11-16-31

The Kingston Taster was more like a “three course meal”! #SpanishCivilWar

Photo credits: Philip King. Exhibition runs till 29th October. You can view entire gallery here.

 

Why Felicia Browne still matters: Video short featuring paintings by Sonia Boué

Exhibition runs until 29th October 2016 – venue All Saints Church (Weston Green), Chestnut Ave, Esher KT10 8JL

Project Launch at the Marx Memorial Library: Through An Artist’s Eye.

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(Photograph of Meirian Jump Library manager and archivist.)

SOME REVIEWS OF OUR CENTRAL LONDON LAUNCH LAST WEEK:

‘Through an Artist’s Eye’ is a brilliant use of visual arts and poetry to tell us more than can be read in conventional histories about the short but extraordinary life of Felicia Browne. Together, Sonia Boué and Jenny Rivarola demonstrate the power of art to fill those imaginative spaces and at the same time bring Felicia’s inspiring work and example to new audiences.”
Jim Jump, Journalist, Secretary of International Brigade Memorial Trust

“I should like to congratulate the instigators of this most inspiring evening. The film, the lecture by Professor Tom Buchanan, the works of art and the poems by Sonia Boue and Jenny Rivarola respectively did much to bring this heroic but largely unknown woman/artist to life. With the ghost of Lorca hovering in the background I had a most delightful experience. The final treat was the booklet of Sonia’s paintings and Jenny’s poems responding to the life of Felicia Browne to take home with me. I shall relish it.”
Joanna Graham

Through an Artist’s Eye: Felicia Browne and the Spanish Civil War, is a real eye-opener. Sonia Boué, visual artist and Jenny Rivarola, poet, both descendants of Spanish Republican exiles draw on their own personal experiences to bring back to life Felicia Browne, a woman ahead of her time who paid the ultimate price to stop fascism. Through a combination of paintings, poems and video, the two artists shed light on a remarkable life that for too long has been relegated to a footnote in history. This is vital work as relevant today as it was 80 years ago. I hope this is only the beginning of many more to come.
Ferran Nogueroles

 

THROUGH AN ARTIST´S EYE

The Rescue of Felicia Browne
Marx Memorial Library, Friday 30 September 2016

I had never heard of Felicia Browne, but the Instituto Cervantes´s newsletter advertised a series of events which grabbed my attention: who was this woman artist I had never heard of? why would two contemporary artists want to use her as a springboard for their own work? The mixture of the historic (the Spanish Civil War context, the International Brigades, the first foreign miliciana to die in combat just one month after the start of the war, in August 1936) and the contemporary (a collaborative visual and poetic project of two British artists both daughters of Republican exiles) was definitely the reason I went to the first event of the series, appropriately held at the Marx Memorial Library where the International Brigades Memorial Trust’s archives are based – I have not regretted it!

The historical Felicia, who turned out to be an artist of no great artistic importance per se, but whose short life (she died at 32), crisscrossed the private and public spaces, the personal and the group struggles of her time, allows and encourages a rich variety of readings. From an upper-middle class background, this Slade student evolved onto a committed Communist activist. It was extremely interesting to listen to Professor Tom Buchanan sketch of Browne’s life and the role of the archival material in Tate Britain and elsewhere which has rescued her from obscurity and is the backbone of the work produced by Sonia Boué and Jenny Rivarola.

During the evening, both artists gave a taste of their work in the form of a film and a reading of some of the poems, followed by a full Q&A session. They articulated clearly the aims and process of their collaborative project and I am now looking very much forward to reading the poems in front of the actual works which will be exhibited in Esher. I found particularly interesting how the work of Boué and Rivarola, by quoting directly from Browne, rescues and re-presents the dead woman´s life, art, and ideals (Boué makes striking use of some of her surviving charcoal drawings, placing them in an abstracted figurative landscape punctuated by objects which I am sure will be even more forceful in the flesh, whilst Rivarola lifts from Browne´s own words as found in her letters to construct a vital journey; she read some of the seven poems during the evening). In fact, the project seems like a triangular conjunction of realities, past and present, which I for one found intriguing and surprisingly resonant in our present historical moment: Felicia Browne resurfaces in the present through what appears to be a parallel artistic endeavour to her own, political and poetic, and where personal family memories are salvaged from all protagonists concerned.

Clarisa Rucabado Butler

OUR TASTER EVENT WILL BE ANOTHER CHANCE TO EXPERIENCE THIS PRESENTATION OF OUR WORK, AHEAD OF OUR EXHIBITION OPENING (see below)

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Exhibition news! From An Artist’s Eye.

Please watch this short video for all you need to know about our forthcoming events.

 

Through An Artist’s Eye: Felicia Browne and the Spanish Civil War – Events news!

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Studio shot by Philip King 2016

We’re nearing the finish line on the Artist’s Eye project. We’re delighted to announce that our free exhibition booklet will be available at all our events.

September 30th will see our  project LAUNCH  at the iconic Marx Memorial Library. An event rich in symbolism to open our tribute to Felicia Browne.

Programme: Welcome – Spanish wine & tentempié / Host – MML Archivist, Meirian Jump/ Origins of the project – Sonia Boué/ Talk – Prof Tom Buchanan (of Oxford University)/ Premier of our project film/ Short poetry reading – Jenny Rivarola

This will be followed by a introductory evening on October 6th at All Saints Kingston on Thames, i.e. TASTER EVENT  For local audiences and the wider public to learn more about the exhibition.

Programme: Welcome – Spanish wine  / Host – Historian, Liz Woolley – who will be in conversation with Prof Tom Buchanan (of Oxford University)/ Project film/ Short poetry reading – Jenny Rivarola/ Conclusion and thanks – Curator, Sarah Mossop

MAIN EVENT

Exhibition opens, October 8th, 12-2pm in All Saints Esher – PRIVATE VIEW – including refreshments and video installation.

The opportunity to see all works in situ – including 17 previously unseen drawings by Felicia Browne – and to meet artist and poet, Sonia Boué & Jenny Rivarola. 

 FREE ART & POETRY Workshops can be booked here.

All events are free but booking is especially recommended for the launch and for workshops as places are limited.

Our gratitude to Instituto Cervantes for hospitality.