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An invincible summer – vessels of memory

An invincible summer – vessels of memory

A Letter From Isabel

After the wettest May on record – that’s 165 years, the daily gloom seems to be compounding and although the gardens and parks in Britain look wonderful, we all look like we need some natural vitamin D. I cant work out if it is also compounded by restrictions on travel that is making the forecast seem even more depressing.

An invincible summer – vessels of memory

So what I do now is look for sunshine in unexpected places… my friend Anya’s new café serving the best Rosé wine in town, the Cow Parsley shoulder high, and camouflaging our dogs on our wet walks; working on the palette for next summer’s collection, or just sitting in the yellow room at Connolly on the first floor of Clifford Street, which we created with paint specialist Pedro da Costa Felgueiras four years ago. Interesting to see how many retail spaces have followed suit and now incorporate a version of this yellow in their spaces.

For us it is like the warm heart of Connolly. I have a client who comes once every couple of weeks just to sit in this space to feel good; so when Pedro showed me three new pieces he has created, kings yellow pigment poured into the centre and burnished with gold and copper and bronze – it was like bringing the sunshine inside, burning brightly!

Each piece takes its name from the colour selected. Kings Yellow was a costly, arsenic based, pigment that was the brightest yellow in the eighteenth century. Now, arsenic free, the remarkable contrast between the bright colour and the deep black patinated bronze as well as the ‘gold drip’ makes these works a striking combination of colours and textures.

"These three ‘Kings Yellow’ vessels", Pedro writes, "were very much made with the colour in mind that I recreated for your room at Clifford Street. The colour started life as the same colour as the walls in your room and then I added extra pigments in order create a warmer more intense hue. With the pieces being smaller, jewellery like, I felt they needed a more intense colours that would also contrast better with the black bronze rim and the 24 Carat gold leaf highlights."

This decanting of sunshine into a smaller, more self contained, more portable moment, brought to mind the words of the Algeria born, French writer and philosopher, Albert Camus, in his short essay 'Return to Tipasa', which was published in the collection L'été (Summer) in 1954. And how the disappointment of his first return to the ruins of Tipasa, where had he spent endless summer days when he was young, altered. The ruins were still fenced off and a guardian was posted, which had destroyed the sense of being alone that the young Camus had enjoyed there. But on this second pilgrimage, he was more modest in his desire and sought only a moment. “I found exactly what I had come seeking.” He reflects on this moment when he’s at one with his surroundings – the moment became enough to discover what was always inside.

“For there is merely bad luck in not being loved; there is misfortune in not loving. All of us, today, are dying of this misfortune. For violence and hatred dry up the heart itself; the long fight for justice exhausts the love that nevertheless gave birth to it. In the clamor in which we live, love is impossible and justice does not suffice. This is why Europe hates daylight and is only able to set injustice up against injustice. But in order to keep justice from shrivelling up like a beautiful orange fruit containing nothing but a bitter, dry pulp, I discovered once more at Tipasa that one must keep intact in oneself a freshness, a cool wellspring of joy, love the day that escapes injustice, and return to combat having won that light. Here I recaptured the former beauty, a young sky, and I measured my luck, realizing at last that in the worst years of our madness the memory of that sky had never left me. This was what in the end had kept me from despairing. I had always known that the ruins of Tipasa were younger than our new constructions or our bomb damage. There the world began over again every day in an ever new light. O light! This is the cry of all the characters of ancient drama brought face to face with their fate. This last resort was ours, too, and I knew it now. In the middle of winter I at last discovered that there was in me an invincible summer.”― Albert Camus

It seems particularly resonant in this world at the moment and I am determined to try to keep alive that invincible summer, maybe just in the smallest of ways, delighting in a colour, a moment, or some June sunshine.

Visit Pedro da Costa Felgueiras' website