An Impromptu Lecture by Richard Demarco, CBE OBE

DSC01880 - Richard Demarco - 3 July 2013 - THTT signed

 

I am extremely privileged to know the indomitable Professor Richard Demarco (pictured above explaining his Archive at Summerhall), having first come across him in Edinburgh during the early 1990s, and am honoured to call Richard a friend.

As is his wont and despite his advanced years, Richard Demarco continues to be immensely generous about sharing what he has with others, regardless of where he is or with whom, and he loves an audience with whom to engage.   Ever enthusiastic about disseminating his vast knowledge, conveying his passion in every word, and describing his many encounters with bright and brilliant minds, all of whom he recognises as artists, Richard thrives on speaking with anyone who is interested to hear what he has to teach, and speaks with brilliance and compelling emotion about the things most dear to his heart.

On one of my visits to Richard’s administration base in Edinburgh a couple of years ago, a small crowd had gathered, to whom Richard enthusiastically began to lecture. I switched on my camera to capture the moment in photograph, but hit the video setting, in error.  Thus, instead of photographing him, I found I was filming the exceptional moment, which turned out to be fortuitious.  Richard noticed that he was being filmed, but appeared not to mind the ‘intrusion’, so I kept the film running.  To be honest, I wish I had video or audio recordings of every meeting  and gathering at which we have met thus far, all of which have been fascinating, inspiring and intellectually vibrant.  Richard Demarco is a stellar human being and one who never fails to enliven the world around him, a world which I am so fortunate to be able to encounter him in.

I share this treasure of mine in good faith, the result of my impromptu filming of an impromptu lecture by Professor Richard Demarco, CBE OBE on 10 July 2013, at Summerhall in Edinburgh. The film clip contains mentions of the Edinburgh Festival, the climate and Nature, made poignant by the presence of a cherished portrait of the late Joseph Beuys, renowned artist and environmentalist, a much-treasured and missed friend of the great man.  There are also several ‘guest appearances’ through a creaky door, by those going about their business of managing the Demarco Archive at Summerhall.  I hope none will mind being featured in this little film.

 

 

As an aside before ending this post, mere mention of the fact that this was filmed a day after Richard Demarco’s 83rd birthday.  Richard has recently celebrated turning 85, and continues to travel widely to speak of Art, his great love, and many things related, inspiring all who come into his orbit.  What a remarkable man he is!

With blessings,

Holly x

 

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Note:  For more information about Professor Richard Demarco, please search this site for other post(s), where you will also find links to his website.

 

 

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NB.  The film clip featured is the property of and remains copyright to Holly Maxwell Boydell, with all rights reserved.  The film and this post may be shared, but not used elsewhere for gain without prior and appropriate agreement / permission.

 

 

 

 

Copyright ©  The Holly Tree Tales
All rights reserved.

Diferentes Coordenadas Diferentes Visões Do Nosso Mundo

A little story in pictures by my beautiful childhood friend, Adrienne Silva, exhibiting her artwork in Lisbon (earlier this year). Such talent, such beauty.

I am so honoured to call you my friend, Adrienne.

Holly x

Adrienne Silva

My Work Installed in Principe Real, Lisbon My Work Installed in Principe Real, Lisbon

Paula Cabral Galeria de Arte Paula Cabral Galeria de Arte

portugal June 2011 exhibition interviews 024

My Walk About with viewers were planned by Ana Paula. I loved it. A South African’s story told in Lisbon

portugal June 2011 453

Fellow artist, Nuno, Adelaide also came from Lyons France…flew to Lisbon in her Cessna, and I. The last time I saw Adelaide is when I met her at Mundial in Cape Town.

portugal June 2011 443

Friend and fellow painter from Sintra.

Early August Sesimbra 023

Jaya comes from Paris. We visit my work in Principe Real.

Ouportugal June 2011 exhibition interviews 015

The three painters Adrienne , Isabel and Jirina. A gathering in the gallery for our Walk Abouts. A few days after opening.

The Invitation to the show

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A Letter To My Brother

Little Holly & baby Rhett - sent to me by Rhett - cropped - THTT cropped

 

To my darling brother,

Whom I have known for fifty years today,

A message that is on my heart to share with you,

On your special birthday far away …

 

I am not sure how to write this, nor how to best begin, and so am going to pretend that we are in the same part of the world and this is my speech for you, as if standing before you, amongst a crowd of well-wishers. I wonder how many know how lucky we are to have you with us still?

When I woke this morning, unusually early at 5.50am, I immediately knew that today was your birthday and the enormity of this realisation hit me like a boat paddle across the head. Thoughts flooded my mind, memories of our childhood – sweet, adventurous, challenging and complex all at once – and tears tumbled out as I recalled how we so nearly lost you. I cannot tell you how grateful I am that you did not die … and that you survived each additional time that you heroically diced with death …

The fact that you are here today is, to me, nothing short of a miracle. Does anyone else know this, I wonder?

It was such a long time ago, and yet even today I cannot bear the smell of chemotherapy. I recall as if it were moments ago, visiting you in your hospital ward, climbing up onto your bed, and you handing me your beloved ‘real rabbit skin’ koala bear … which I took back to my convent boarding school with me, stuck my head into every single night, and cried into as if my heart would break.

You had no hair, your leukaemia treatment had been fierce and your battle was being lost … only one in ten children were able to survive back then, if that, and you were fast fading away. The smell of chemotherapy was powerful in the hospital, and it followed me powerfully everywhere, captured in the fur of the little koala bear. My pain at our separation was unbearable; our broken family disintegrating before my eyes, and the thought of losing you too was inutterably painful. I could not understand what all the words meant which described your health challenge and treatments, nor why I had to lose you, but I knew that I would not be able to go on if you went away forever. With my fervent little girl prayers, I prayed my heart out to the God that I knew and trusted, and I begged him to let you live … I can’t remember what I offered in return, but I begged for my brother not to leave me.

I was in a convent for two years from the age of seven, separated from you from when you became ill aged five, and cannot remember how long the treatment went on for, but every day was like forever. I know that we were hardly ever able to see one another in that time, and much about each other’s life then has been lost to both of us, but I remember the relief when I heard that you would live. You were dying. The doctors had done all that they could to save you. It was just a matter of time … and then one night, bruised and completely spent, you suddenly (miraculously) turned the corner, and your body began to heal. To this day, I believe that God granted the miracle so fervently sought, and that you were supernaturally healed. You were not strong physically, although clearly your spirit was phenomenal, and we had to take the utmost care with you … by then your and my childhood rough ‘n tumbles together had completely ceased. Your body had to be protected, and we were taking no chances with it.

How you got from there, aged five, to where you are today with a beautiful family of your own, amazes me. I am in awe of what you have survived, thrived despite all challenges to do so, overcome and risen above. The thing that I find truly astounding is that, not only did you stare the demon in the face and overwhelm it, but you then went on to tease the darkness several more times, coming out on top each time. Do you remember how, not long after surviving cancer, you climbed up into and then tumbled out of a huge fig tree … hitting your head on the concrete ground below? How did you walk away from that? Fervent prayers again, I wonder?

Do you remember the time, in about 1973, when we went on an adventure to find out where a swarm of honeybees had built their nest? We climbed up a narrow metal rung ladder in the garage, up to an attic space above … I remember clearly telling you to walk along the rafters (how did I know that, aged ten?) … but you disobeyed, and promptly fell through the roof. Your arrival into the living room was so dramatic: not only had you blasted through the ceiling like a super hero, but your steering skills went slightly awry … you took the brass candlesticks with you, as you flew past the stone mantel piece, thrashing your skull before you crash-landed onto the stone-flagged floor below. Why did you do that, my brother? Why did you have to go and crack your head open yet again, and on the day that we were due to travel in a group to Ifafa Beach? Do you know that, while your body was being put back together in hospital, yet again, none of the adults would speak to me? Do you know that they all thought I must have been trying to extinguish you? If only they’d known. What a sad, lonely time that beach ‘holiday’ was … but, thank the Lord, once again you survived.

We had so many adventures … did so many things that most children would not dream possible … our escapades colourful and inventive. I remember watching you, a tiny boy aged ten, swimming across the Vaal River in flood, to collect a dassie or mongoose that had been offered to us, so that we had something to cook on our fire. Our little African friends thought you were Superman, I’m sure. How did you survive that, my brother? Where do you hide your cloak?

You were such a brilliant companion and you have been such a clown all our lives, that I would not trade you for all the world. The times when our joking banter would bemuse others, and your dry humour infuriate them, are so innumerable that I have lost count of all the jests. Perhaps if people had known about your ability to overcome beasts and dragons, as I did, they would have shown you more compassion, as well as much-deserved respect? You certainly have mine.

As I think back over just those few incidents in the fifty years that I have known you, my brother, I see how much I have been blessed to be a part of your life. I have known for a long time that you stand head and shoulders above the crowd. What I did not anticipate, aged fourteen and you aged twelve, was how quickly you’d fall head-over-heels in love with all the Bob Marley music I played. Having rocked to the Reggae beat consistently for several years, disinterested in any other beat whatsoever, you finally gave in and increased your music collection, and yet to this day you remain an avid, loyal and dedicated fan. Rastaman vibration, yeah.

Happy Birthday, my brother. You are a truly bright, shining star and you have been my one rock, one constant, for a full half a century, through treacherous seas, through thick and thin. Here’s to the next half, and may you continue to be blessed.

Congratulations on reaching this fabulous milestone …
No … more than that … THANK YOU.
I do not know what I would have done had you left me behind.

With love, positive beats and admiration,

Your sister always,

Holly x

 

 

Holly & Rhett - matching outfits - enlarged - THTT signed

 

 

 

PS.

Holly & Rhett - Arundel Road (enlarged) - THTT signed

 

Trepidatious Booksteps

DSC08074 - A Shropshire Lad - rose open in kitchen today - 30.6.2015 - THTT signed


*****

When you have a huge story inside of you, waiting for its natural time to be carefully birthed, and then discover in a moment that part of your story has been written about and published by someone else …

I am feeling rather peculiar today, and am not at all sure how to process news of a just-released book.

Within me, known only to a very few, is a story that lasts over more than half a century and which few, if written down in full, would quite be able to believe. Perhaps that is one reason why it has not yet come fully into the light, but also I know that before it could be birthed, the story had to become one that was possible for me to fully face. I have stared a lot of frightening things fully in the face and have demonstrated extraordinary courage that not even I knew I had within me, over many, many years … but I have also been broken and have fallen down, unable to get myself back up again, and have had to start to find my way from scatch, time after time. I know what it means to completely snap, for the load to become too great to bear, and for endurance, adaptability, fluidity, fluency and strength to become instead utter exhaustion and sheer despair.

I believe that anything is possible, and I believe I have seen miracles take place, but I also know that there is such a word as “can’t” and that it is possible to push a human being too far. I have had the rug pulled out from underneath me from a very early age, and this pattern continued throughout my childhood, into adulthood, marriage … I know it full well. I know what it feels like to have one’s spirit completely broken by the mindless attitudes of others, and then to be expected to perform regardless. I came up with the phrase a while ago “You cannot break a person’s knees, and then expect them to dance!” Those words came from deep within, from a place inside me that knew the full truth of their meaning.

I have a story to tell. It is a big story. My story is too fantastical for words. I hesitate to share much of my story, for fear of hurting others in the revelation of the parts that they have played. There is another side too, and that is that the story hurts me. It hurts me when I remember certain parts of it, it makes my voice and body tremble when I speak of some of it, and the lion-hearted courage with which I do indeed speak out about certain things, comes from a place within me that is sometimes hanging on for dear life, clinging at many times to a “heavenly father”, God. I could not have walked this path had God not come into my life as a young child, nor survived it, to still be here today. The effort it has taken to keep upright has been immense, and I use no crutch. No drugs, no alcohol, no cigarettes, no harmful addictions … all dealt with and despatched a long time ago. Instead, sheer and utter determination to live in the light, for the light, guided by the light, is what has brought me through some bizarre and outrageous circumstances, throughout much of my life.

I have learnt to laugh and joke about all sorts of things … do you know that many clowns cry behind the stage curtain? I have developed the strength to speak out plainly and clearly, simply and authentically, about what really matters – to my own eyes … and yet, I did not expect to feature in someone else’s story, on someone else’s difficult journey, in someone else’s newly published book. It has come as a shock, although not completely unexpected, as I have known for some time that the process was happening.

So, today, with all sorts of plans for this week that I can now see I shall not be adhering to, I am trying to process the little knowledge I have about this new book, before even considering ordering or reading a copy. My friend who wrote the book I refer to, was an adult when she met me during my early teens, and came into our lives at a key time for my immediate family in the 1970s. Yesterday I learnt that her book was being launched, had been published, is available to buy … and then received a private note to let me know that I am one of the (renamed) characters in it. The book is a memoir, one that needed to be voiced, and I am aware that it carries a lot of pain in its own story for the author who wrote it … but, I am not sure that I am ready to read what someone else has written about a painful and confusing time in my and my family’s life, a time that completely and utterly shook my world. As a result of massive tragedy and trauma, I was thrown into a challenging situation that no child should have to witness, nor ought to have to explain, nor be forced to have to rise above. As children, barely in our teens, we suffered enormous grief and loss (not for the first time, by any means), while all the reeling adults around us considered my brother and myself too young to be aware of what was going on.

I know that the friend who has written this book needed to do so, and I am  proud of her for having achieved it. In her note, my friend told me that she holds me in “high regard” and yet, whilst grateful for this, I do not know how I will feel nor receive that head knowledge when I read the words that describe her experience of our shared story, at some later time.

Over the past few years, I have had a lot of reconnecting with people who have been out of my life, some for decades, due mainly to my various and huge life changes along the way. Every special reconnection (as most of them are) has brought with it big emotion, memories, renewal of some loyal bonds, and also a sadness that we were unable to maintain contact in the intervening years, which would have helped much along the way. At the same time, each reconnection has brought immense gratitude that we are now in touch, can easily find and communicate with one another again, and this has meant that pieces of my life’s broken jigsaw slowly, and sometimes speedily, gets put back into place. There is still a very long way to go, and a lot of healing to happen yet … and I am thoroughly exhausted by it all … but I know that the journey is far from over and I have to keep going on. Perhaps my friend’s book will act as validation, and maybe even a step towards revealing some of the most bizarre parts of what might one day come to light in my own story – who knows?

In the meantime, I sit here tinkling at my computer’s keys and wondering whether I ought to mention the name of the book … and wonder, too, today whether it is in fact time to fully reveal my own name, not leave it to the internet and chance discovery by online detection, to provide my full identity and authorship in several places.

Coming right into the present moment, I notice too that the sun has reappeared from behind the clouds, so I shall go out and sit with a lunch of salad, on a bench in my organic garden, and see what inspiration follows …

I have reached a stage where I honestly do not know how to proceed, nor how to think about anything any more. I am going to go quietly within and see what God shows me to do next.

With faith, hope, and no small amount of trepidation on a journey that, at times, feels as though it has only just begun.

Holly x

A remarkable man: Richard Demarco, CBE

On 22 March 2014 I wrote a short piece, in honour of a man I am proud to call a friend, which I ‘published’ onto the Facebook social media platform, in order that others might read it too. My short note was received with gratitude and favour by those who hold Richard in high esteem, as I do, and for that I was immensely grateful. These are the words and the image, which I had taken too, that was ‘published’ with them …


A remarkable man: Richard Demarco, CBE

I am writing this about and for Richard Demarco, to show him my appreciation and respect, a couple of days before a special event takes place for him, in a quiet way, in Edinburgh. I am incredibly proud to call myself a friend of Richard Demarco, a man who has had a profound effect on the lives of many and varied people in Britain, Europe, and around the world, through the world of Art, from his base in the ‘cultured’ city of Edinburgh.

On Monday 24 March 2014 Richard Demarco CBE will receive the highest award that his own city of birth has to offer. It has been a long time in coming, and I am one of the many who warmly applaud Professor Demarco in receiving this, the Edinburgh Award. He certainly has gone above and beyond boundaries or expectations and, unasked, has done more than most to foster links and goodwill between the United Kingdom and the rest of the world, using Art in all its forms as his medium and communication tool.

With family origins in Italy, and Scotland as his birth place, in his own right Richard Demarco is a most talented artist, his sketches and watercolours amongst some of the most beautiful, and informed, that I have ever seen, and for this alone he gets my recognition and respect. Richard Demarco is also one of the most passionate people I know, a true phenomenon, with the most incredible stamina and verve for life. Those who have been in his space have felt captivated by Richard and hearing him speak is an experience that few are left untouched by; he is, quite simply, a force to be reckoned with.

For many reasons, Richard Demarco’s own life deserves documenting, his own personality and grace applauded, and his own words heard – but always he thinks of others. Richard quickly sees where there is magic in people he meets, always seeks ways to put people and their given talents together, constantly looks for ways to better others’ lives. He has his own voice, undoubtedly clear and strategic, but he is always mindful of his fellow man… and, need I say, he is always mindful of his environment too. Richard is, without doubt, a thoughtful man, on every level.

Now in his 84th year, Richard Demarco has an archive that would take your breath away. The Demarco Foundation Archive contains immeasurably valuable historic records, incredible and inspiring artworks by others, many that will have to remain hidden, at least until a suitable place is found to safely house and make the entire collection available to the public, in perpetuity. Amongst the vast collection of international artworks, are records of deep and significant meaning, documented life witnessed and shared and expressed by others, which spans at least six decades, including information about and material from each and every Edinburgh Festival since its inception. Most profoundly, amongst the Demarco Archive are excruciatingly insightful, haunting and valuable records, giving glimpses into personal links with all sorts of artists and others in Europe and Britain during World War II. This part of the collection, alone, is worth national protection.

Many do not know this, but Richard Demarco has participated, in one significant way or another, in every single Edinburgh Festival, since it began in 1947. He remains committed to its original purpose, wishing to see it become once again the cultural and elegant festival which it used to be, where people’s spirits were lifted, lives enriched and elevated through Art in its many forms. Recently recognition for his positive role in humanity came from distant shores, when Richard Demarco was named European Citizen of the Year 2013. This is something that Edinburgh should be immensely proud of, and proves not only his commitment and loyalty to people everywhere, but his longevity of ambassadorial goodwill.

A passion that I share with Richard Demarco, besides a commitment to take care of our environment by planting trees (reference the oak trees planted by Joseph Beuys in Europe, as a symbolic gesture decades ago, with the expressed wish for this to continue, to protect the earth, the bees, and our lives), is to hear the voices and the hearts of children everywhere. Children, after all, will grow up to be the people who lead us, and it is for them that we ought to live well and decide our actions with wisdom now. Through Richard I learnt about “Room 13 International”, a movement that began in the West of Scotland about twenty years ago, which is now global, empowering the lives and minds of children around the world. I was especially touched to learn that “Room 13” exists in several areas of South Africa, the country where I was born and grew up, and that “Room 13” was one of the movements close to Nelson Mandela’s heart. He, too, cared deeply for children. Like Nelson Mandela, young people delight Richard Demarco; he never seems to tire of engaging them in elevating thought and suggesting opportunity. Like the artist Joseph Beuys, Richard believes that everyone is an artist – and that this is something to be nurtured young.

While he encourages Art, in its many and varied forms, most of all I get the impression that Richard Demarco responds to beauty, and to where he sees love present, wherever and however it is expressed – however deeply or otherwise – as long as it is truthfully expressed.

In some ways, Richard reminds me of Gandhi, who once said words to the effect that “it is expensive to be my friend …”, because Richard Demarco’s visions are enormous, his effect in the world he influences great, while his own means remain surprisingly humble. I love this man Demarco. I love that he is who he is and has done what he has done. He has annoyed some, he has delighted others. That matters little to me, because in him I see the truth lived out, and he is, like all of us, a mere mortal. I love Professor Richard Demarco’s passionate commitment to the human race and to elevating the minds of everyone he comes in contact with, whatever the means, regardless of age, background or creed. Richard Demarco is fearless in the pursuit of his passion: to stimulate consideration and thought, and to empower others. This I love and resonate with most of all.

As you prepare to receive your Edinburgh Award, so justly and rightly deserved, I want to say that I believe you are a shining star, Richard, and I am deeply humbled and grateful to know you as a friend, and a mentor in the journey of life. Bravo and congratulations on receiving The Edinburgh Award … not yet, perhaps, the greatest of your many ongoing achievements, but certainly a highly significant one, and the one that has been the most immediately deserved, yet has taken the longest to arrive.

Well done, our friend, well done.

Richard Demarco, CBE - in conversation via modern technology, with camera always at the ready - August 2013

Richard Demarco, CBE – in conversation via modern technology, with camera always at the ready – August 2013

 

 

FOR FURTHER INFO:

FB  https://www.facebook.com/richard.demarco.923/about
Bio  http://www.richarddemarco.org/documents/35.html
Digital Archive  http://www.demarco-archive.ac.uk/
Wikipedia  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_Demarco

 

 

 

 

 

 

Copyright ©  The Holly Tree Tales
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