Cordoba impressed me because it celebrated its multi- religious heritage. Around the corner from the statue of Jewish scholar Maimonides, was this statue to Muslim scholar Averroes.
Averroes was a Muslim lawyer rather than a Jewish physician but, otherwise, the two men were similar. Averroes was an authority on Aristotle and wrote a significant work called ‘The Incoherence of the Incoherence’. He, too, was exiled from Cordoba when the Berber dynasty took power and his books were burned. He died in Marrakesh in Morocco.
It is heartening that the city of Cordoba pays tribute to significant figures from different religious backgrounds.
I was struck, when in Cordoba, Spain, by the way three religions lived peacefully together several centuries ago; Jewish, Muslim and Christian believers managed to co-exist without compromising their own beliefs.
The statue to Maimonides in the old Jewish quarter of the city is the perfect reminder that we can learn from the past. He was born in Cordoba in 1125 and found fame as a philosopher and author of the Mishneh Torah. He was also interested in the sciences and in Greek philosophy and Islamic teachings. He lived in Spain at a time when the enlightened rule of the Moors might be considered a golden age but left when a Berber dynasty conquered the city in 1148. The status of Christians and Jews was threatened and Maimonides, being Jewish, went into exile with his family, moving around Andalucia before travelling to Morocco and Egypt.
My recent visit to London to hunt down another David Wynne sculpture reminded me that, last Summer, I did a similar thing in Newcastle Upon Tyne. I wanted to see his 1968 sculpture ‘Swans in Flight’ at the Civic Centre. One very quite Sunday morning, I walked to the area to see it and had the whole area to myself. I imagine, being council offices, that they are very busy in the working week but on this Sunday the area was deserted.
The swans represent Norway, Finland, Sweden, Denmark and Iceland as recognition of the links between this north-eastern city and Scandanavia. Wynne’s inspiration came from a poem by Hans Hartvig Seedorff Pederson called ‘The Swans of the North’.
In London, so off to find the David Wynne sculpture from 1971 called ‘The Dancers’. I have walked along Sloane Street many times and I knew the piece could be seen in Cadogan Square Gardens but I was not sure how public or private it would be.
I was pleased to see it easily from the street.
The sculpture of David Wynne is in my hinterland. What’s in yours?
In London, so I walked along the Albert Embankment in search of a statue that was installed in 2015. It is of the Indian social reformer and philosopher, Basaveshwara. My knowledge of Indian history being restricted to the period when British interests intersected (clashed?) with those of India, I knew nothing of this person. I am always on the look out for new sculpture in London so I was keen to see it. Later, I looked up information about him.
Basaveshwara pioneered the idea of democracy in 12th century India, so long before anything like it on these islands. He also campaigned against the caste system and slavery and was in favour of gender equality. It is fitting that he looks out over the Thames nt far from the Houses of Parliament.
In London and off to find a work of art by one of my favourite sculptors, Antony Gormley. This work is called ‘Reflection’ and is found on the Euston Road at the Regents Place development. It is a typical Gormley work in that the body is important and, I imagine but do not know for sure, cast from his own body.
One naked life size figure stands outside staring at a mirror image figure on the inside.
It is always a pleasure to see an Antony Gormley work and it was worth the walk across London to see this piece.
Antony Gormley sculpture is in my hinterland. What’s in yours?
In London and visiting Soho so I went along to Carnaby Street were it meets Berwick Street to see the Soho Mural. This work of art dates back to the 90s but it was restored in 2006. It was created by community members who wanted to celebrate the district and its unique place in London history.
On the mural are people who lived, worked and played in Soho. The Chinese influence is recognised as are local venues such as the London Palladium and Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club. Liberty’s distinctive Tudor style shop is also depicted. The dominant figure is Saint Anne; the local church is named after her. Her wide skirt forms the background on which the Soho personalities are painted. Karl Marx, Dylan Thomas, George Melly, Casanova and William Blake have all made it onto the mural.
The dogs and hares are there to remind us that this used to be a hunting area.