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Een paars afwasteiltje

Zes uur vliegen en je staat op Sal, het meest noordelijke eiland van de Kaapverdische archipel. Santa Maria ligt er loom en slaperig bij. Lage huisjes omzomen aan beide zijden de Rua 1 de Junho, de hoofdstraat. De gevels zijn in allerlei pasteltinten beschilderd. Souvenirwinkeltjes puilen uit van het West-Afrikaanse houtsnijwerk. ‘De Todo um Pouco’ heet er een, van alles een beetje. De noordoostpassaat heeft een paar iele acacia’s flink uit het lood geblazen. Op een muurtje voor het clubhuis van plaatselijke voetbalclub Sport Clube Santa Maria kijken twee mannen verveeld de straat af. Er valt weinig te beleven. Een vrouw met een paars afwasteiltje op haar hoofd steekt bedelend haar hand uit.

João Moreira, mestre-baleeiro

The Azores and Madeira were the last places where sperm whales were commercially hunted in a traditional way, with hand harpoons from small, single-masted sailing smacks. The international moratorium of 1984 banned this type of sperm whale hunting.

In 1940 the whaling industry was new to these islands but not to the islanders who in the past had learned the catching techniques as crew members on Yankee whalers heading for the Pacific. The Second World War created a huge shortage of oil on the islands. Sperm whale oil could partly supply the islands' oil needs, even being used in diesel engines. 

The interesting Museu da Baleia in Caniçal on Madeira is a fund of information on Maderian whaling. In one of the photos, Eleuterio Reis hands over the last hand harpoon of Caniçal to the International Fund for Animal Welfare. Museum guide João Moreira, master-whaler, tells that in his long career he caught 3000 whales.


José explains: 'We tried to earn some extra money by scratching whaling scenes in ivory sperm whale teeth. it is called scrimshaw and is a simple engraving technique using Indian ink. Nobody knows the origin of the word scrimshaw. A whale's tail high above the water, threatening a fragile little boat, was the favorite image. Mão de Deus, The Hand of God our whalers called the huge whale's tail.'

Candlemaker Andreas Violaris

Candlemaker Andreas Violaris certainly doesn't look his age. Thanks to his full head of grey hair you would not give him his eighty-five years. Everyone in Cyprus knows he is their number one candlemaker. From far and near they come to the dusty side street around the corner from the Agios Lazaros church in Larnaca to buy his candles.

In the Greek-orthodox world one offers tamata, small tin, silver or golden plaques shaped as an eye, leg or heart. Or any other bodypart that can do with some divine help. However In every church or chapel on Cyprus you will also find arms, legs and baby bodies made from wax, a much cheaper material.

At his working desk he wraps up a stack of wax heads in old newspapers. 'It seems people nowadays often have headaches caused by stress. I can hardly keep up with production', he says with a smile.

From his sixty years experience he can dig up many examples of tamata that really did the trick. The most striking one he remembers is the kidney he cast for a woman a few days before her operation. 'The next morning she suddenly had no pain and decided not to go to the hospital. With both kidneys intact she reached the ripe, old age of 86. But you must really believe in it, otherwise it does not work', he said.

The role of great art is to enrich people’s lives

In 1962 slater/plasterer John Nelson had no art qualifications. He was accepted into Edinburgh College of Art that year purely on the strength of his portfolio.

During work breaks John was always sketching. An art teacher had seen this and helped him put the portfolio together. The following years John won a number of drawing and painting prizes which included an Andrew Grant Scholarship.

From 1971 to 1996 he was an art lecturer at Stevenson College, Edinburgh. This college was then leading the way in new ideas in adult and further education. John was one of their pioneering lecturers in arts and crafts. He also taught art to ‘lifers’ in Saughton Prison, Edinburgh.

As an Edinburgh man he was proud to be a member of The Glasgow League of Artists, organising exhibitions of their work at home and abroad. He was also chairman of Livingston Art Foundation and the first artistic director of the Craigmillar Festival Society.

Always finding time to sketch and paint, always developing his painting and his love of colour to his own exacting standards, he did not spend much time promoting his work. But it was discovered, exhibited and bought, because people really liked it.  

‘I make paintings which I hope encapsulate my natural joie de vivre and love of colour. Always suspicious of the archetypical, I work directly onto the canvas. Make  no preparatory drawings, follow and shape intuitively. Ideas for my paintings come from a variety of sources, but I am particularly drawn to the natural forms of land and sea’, John explained.

From 1996 he lived in the Scottish Borders. In 2012 he moved to Pittenweem in Fife where he sadly passed away a year later.

A selection of John’s paintings is now available as Giclée art prints on 100% cotton art paper. More information on:

Father Barnabas

The Minthis golf course near Paphos on Cyprus is built on land owned by the bishopry of Paphos. The bishop knew the value of the estate, but did not want a big Benidorm-like development on their grounds. Especially as he was planning to live in the monastery in the middle of the fields after his retirement. It had to be something of quality like a golf course, he decided.
So now there is a chapel and a small monastery between the sixth and seventh hole. Father Barnabas is in charge of the chapel. He is all smiles when the small bus arrives with British tourists. First he sells as many candles as possible. Then he takes a lighter from his leather jacket to help his guests to light their candles.
On a golf course you would expect most candles at the foot of the St Andrew icon, but father Barnabas gently guides everyone to the Virgin Mary icon.
Apart from the icons the chapel is rather bare for a Greek-orthodox church. So everyone is back in the bus ten minutes later. After a little wave to the leaving bus he quickly walks back to the Virgin Mary icon, blows out all the candles and puts them in an old cardboard box, ready to be melted down for new candles.

Having seen what he did I raise my eyebrows. He only shrugs his shoulders, spreads his arms and gives me a big, apologising smile

Nieuwe reacties

13.08 | 09:49

Goh, Els. Het was weer een genot om te lezen en te bekijken.

31.05 | 10:22

Flamenco: Pasado y Presente: Wat een prachtig virtuoos gitaarspel.

28.02 | 16:13

Proficiat op naar het milijoen

28.02 | 14:53

Proficiat! Op naar het miljoen!