Struggling through Sunday morning sleep, I blink into the weak rays of sun touching the outer walls of the courtyard and fingering their way into the chest cavity of our ground-floor apartment in Barcelona Spain. What is that noise? Ah, nothing more than a tour-bus-load of guests dragging their train of luggage up the pave-covered cobblestone street. They are likely on their way to the small hotel just around the corner. Stretching, I push back the blankets and step lightly into a day where dark coffee stings my nostrils as I prepare bread with butter and jam that still has lumps of tangy fruit and a few seeds. As an after thought, I add a small glass of orange juice and a couple of pieces of Gennaro Auricchio Collesardo Classico – a hard, delicate and nutty sheep cheese age between 45 and 60 days.
Padding in my still-bare feet and nightgown, sheltered by the privacy of my warn sweater, I tentatively slip into the courtyard and settle on the edge of a chair at the table in the covered area. What a pleasant morning I conclude. Then follow it up with sweeping the courtyard and the apartment, doing some hand-washing, have a shower and finish off by scrubbing and drying the dishes in the kitchen. It is my way of living in a place I am visiting – a way where I anchor the sounds of the birds, whose names I don’t know, singing in the trees overhead, and the size of the courtyard, the kitchen and bathroom are measured and remembered by the steps that I take around each. Possibly, this information isn’t necessary. But what comes with these solid knots of information is colours, forms and the quality of the light. These are important to a painter and a photographer. These must be remembered and recalled for later work.
Once the chores are completed, I begin to reminisce about Narbonne France and its 2,500 years of history yet again. Oh, not the medieval town itself so much but the rows of ruins stacked high in Our Lady of Lamourguier. Since 1868, the 11th century church has been used as a warehouse to hold various carved elements removed from Narbonne’s walls during demolition and it contains approximately 2000 ancient Roman lapidary blocks. Since cameras were allowed during my visit I can take us inside. Shall we go have a look?
The church completes her warehouse status with grit settled thickly on the grainy foundation and only an outer shell of her religious history remaining.
I am mesmerized by the pure abundance of carved blocks.
They are all numbered but not necessarily stack in order.
Possibly, they have even been moved for aesthetic pleasure.
Or maybe it is just my artist and photographer’s eye that is doing the organizing?
Sometimes my attention settles on individual blocks.
Other times, it is an oddity that catches my attention.
What are these over-sized clay pots doing in here amongst the blocks?
They seem out-of-place somehow.
Then there are the angels with their perfect child-like portioned bodies. If we watch closely they seem to move around and around the remains of this column, neither hurried nor stilled by time.
A guide book for a tour of the city states that the Romans arrived to Narbonne in 118 BC. The place called Narbo Martius has been known as Rome’s first daughter ever since.
Walking the rows I begin to ponder.
What from this century might survive for the same period of time into the future? What structure might it be housed in?
Who will visit and will they know who we are?
Will they wonder what we ate? Or what it was that woke us on a Sunday morning? Or who it was that we loved? Did we live to be old, die in childbirth or in a protest against our government or sacking another city? Will a sword that tore through your heart remain all those years later with your DNA still on its blade?
If you could whisper one thing in the ear of a visitor hundreds of years from now, as they walked pass an artifact that you had made or that you had used – what would you say to them?
No let’s not go out into the sunlight. Let’s stay here just a while longer….
© 2014 Terrill Welch, All rights reserved.
Liberal usage granted with written permission. See “About” for details.
Creative Potager – Visit with painter and photographer Terrill Welch
From Mayne Island, British Columbia, Canada
For gallery and purchase information about Terrill’s photographs and paintings go to http://terrillwelchartist.com