Tag Archives: peace not war

Before and after…

This morning on this cool, rainy ANZAC Day, I watched the Brisbane parade on TV and looked through old family photographs and military records. Over the past 120 years, four generations on both sides of my family have served and fought – in the Boer War, both World Wars and Vietnam, in Africa, Europe, Asia and Australia. Some volunteered, others were conscripted, it quietened a couple, others it unsettled. I also think of those not in uniform but affected by war – the widows, children who lost fathers, mothers who lost children, the loved ones of those men who returned with trauma, understandably changed. So many doing their best to ‘get on with it’ with little or no help.

In the past I’ve shared with you photographs of some in my family in uniform, but today as I looked through old photos, these two struck me. Left, is Granny Maddalena and her son, Elia in 1939, only months before WW2 began. Right, is a couple of years after the war ended, not long before they were to come to Australia to reunite with the rest of the family they’d been cut off from during the war. I’ve written some of what happened to them in Italy during WW2 in Joe’s, but recently I’ve been digging deeper, finding out more that I hope to write about in future.

I have great respect and care for those who elicited such courage as soldiers in my family – I’m also proud of those who got caught up in war as civilians. Granny is older in the photograph after the war, of course, yet compared to before, I can’t help but feel there is something else in her face – a knowing, of atrocity seen that won’t be spoken of, and I see it in her stance too. Also I notice, in the first photo, Maddalena has her hand on Elia’s shoulder, and later on, he has his hand on hers.

I’ve been discovering some parallels to what occurred for them in Italy then with what’s currently happening in Ukraine and it really hits home. As horrible as it is to see, I look, because in a way it’s up to all of us to see, to know, to do, even something small, and to remember. Because it is in peacetimes that our earth and life on it is most beautiful and can thrive with all those things that war curtails – beauty, art, cooking, music and dance, storytelling, laughter, creating. Peace gives us the space to be. Zoë xx


Filed under inspiration + history

a dove has spread her wings…

Last Friday, I discovered this beautiful artwork by Ukrainian artist, Mariya Prymachenko (1909-1997) titled, ‘A Dove Has Spread Her Wings and Asks for Peace’, 1982. I’ve just found out that on Sunday, invading Russian forces burned down the museum that was home to dozens of Mariya’s paintings.

Mariya was from a poor family and could only receive 4 years of schooling. She got polio as a child that left her with physical impairment. Unable to work in the fields she began to draw as she watched the geese. She and her partner Vasyl had a son but didn’t manage to get married before Vasyl was sent to fight in WW2 and was killed. Mariya kept on painting and became renowned for her work. Her son and two grandsons also became artists.

Mariya painted these paintings when she was in her 70s. This one is titled, ‘Our Army, Our Protectors’, 1978. I can’t tell you how distressed I feel at what is happening in Ukraine and other parts of the world where aggression and injustice is being put above people, animals, nature, art, music, culture, food, peace – everything that makes our world such a beautiful place.

I stand in solidarity with the people of Ukraine. May they continue to stand tall, bright and independent like the sunflowers that are their national flower.

(Following the destroying of the museum that contained Mariya’s artworks and many other important cultural items, Ukraine has called for UNESCO to strip Russia of its membership in its organisation.)

Голубка распустила крила, хоче на землі мира. 💛💙🌻


Filed under art + photographs, inspiration + history