Tag Archives: peace


My House, My Truth, 1989 by Mariya Prymachenko (1909-1997). “My house, my truth… my mother did it all and gave me. She sewed, spun, baked bread and pounded millet.” Mariya Prymachenko.

Family. The older generation, having lived life, passes on their experience to their children. Prymachenko’s mother passed on her love for art and taught her to embroider and be herself. – From the Odessa Journal, 2022.

Recently at the charity auction ‘Benefit for Ukraine’s People and Culture’ in Venice, this artwork sold for 110,000 euros to become the most expensive of Prymachenko’s paintings. The entire cost has been donated.

(In the first few weeks of Russia’s war on Ukraine, invading Russian forces burned down the museum that was home to 25 of Mariya’s paintings. The war has now been ongoing for five months with tens of thousands of casualties.) 💛💙🌻 памьятаюші

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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


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Speranza e pace…

Clockwise from top left… folk painting, ‘A Dove Has Spread Her Wings and Asks for Peace’, 1982 by Ukrainian artist, Mariya Prymachenko (1909-1997).
A southern Italian tradition this time of year of putting in the window a handmade figure of a woman with fruit, feathers and spinning tools to represent transformation and encourage perseverance until the full arrival of spring.
Beautiful eggshells intricately hand-carved by Tasmanian artist, Bryan Wickens, a Vietnam war veteran who finds peace and distraction from bad war memories by carving eggs, that happen to symbolise new life.
An Italian Colomba cake, baked in a dove-shape (and me! – from a previous magazine article about different Easter traditions).
And finally, bottom left, a Pizza di Pasqua, the Abruzzese saffron, bread-cake, the type Granny Maddalena was making when 15-year-old Nonno Anni happened to be leaving Italy for Australia on Good Friday of all days – the two of them not knowing when, or if, they’d see each other again.
Some days, especially festive ones, times can seem hard but all around, in our traditions, our art, our cooking, it seems there is always hope and always hope for peace. Wishing you all much of both this Easter – whatever your beliefs may be. Tanti bei auguri! ❤️ Zoe x

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Remembrance and peace…

“Maddalena strode down the hill to the valley, feeling every step in her knees. Since turning fifty-three, she occasionally had to rub warm olive oil into her joints. She was inwardly cursing having to kneel to weed the immature poppy plants among the sugar beets when she caught sight of an abandoned hillside covered with poppies in full bloom. Her steps slowed, the flowers holding her gaze, a sea of red and green rippling in the spring breeze. She’d never considered them beautiful before. There seemed to be so many, thousands upon thousands, and yet it if each one represented a person lost in the war, the number didn’t come even close.” From, Joe’s Fruit Shop and Milk Bar.


(Poppy field near Monticchio in Abruzzo.
Took this when I was staying at the family house in nearby Fossa in 2005.)


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