Friday 22 October 2010

Maryam Hashemi - Exhibition at the Broadway Theatre, Barking.

Last week I went to see an exhibition of paintings by the artist Maryam Hashemi at the Broadway Theatre. I first saw her recite some Ghazals with great passion and feeling, by the fourteenth Century Persian poet, Hafez at the event organised in his honour by Poet in the City on National Poetry Day. I have attended quite a few of their events in the past (I was at the Poetry Breakfast with Jo Shapcott that very morning) and this was one of their best.

Maryam Hashemi has a wonderful command of subject in her artwork, blending mythology with current every-day things that people of all ages can relate to in their own lives. I was particularly taken by the striking variety of colours. The strong projection of national heritage in her work is carefully constructed as well as sublimely universal and evokes an exceptional sense of place. Her paintings give a powerful message but they do so gently and with a remarkable clarity of vision. Do check out her website.

Monday 11 October 2010

'Colonel Mordaunt's Cock Match' by Johann Zoffany, (1788)

Zoffany accompanied Warren Hastings to Lucknow in 1784.
It was at such a cockfight that Mir's first meeting with Nawab Asafud Daulah took place.  He wrote in his autobiography:
After 4 or 5 days, it so happened that the Nawab came to the mansion [of Salar Jang] to enjoy a round of cock fights.  I was present there and paid my respects.  He intuitively recognised me and said, 'You must be Mir Mohammad Taqi.'  He then embraced me with utmost kindness, took me with him to where he was to sit and addressing me, recited some of his own verses.  I said, 'Praise be to Allah.  'A king's verse is the king of verses.' '  Out of extreme kindness, he then pressed me to recite some verses too.  That days I merely recited some couplets of a Ghazal.  At the time of the Nawab's departure, Salar Jang said to him, 'Now that Mir has come here at your excellency's command you are his master.  You may assign him a position and send for him to keep you company whenever you wish.'  The Nawab replied, 'I shall fix a salary and let you know.'  After a couple of days,  he sent for me.  I went and presented myself and read the panegyric I had written in his praise.  He listened to it and, with utmost graciousness, accepted me into his service.  And he showers on me such kindness and consideration. 
(Zikr  e  Mir. Mir Mohammad Taqi Mir. 1773.  Translated by C. M. Naim. Oxford University Press, 1999).  118, 119.

Friday 8 October 2010

From 'In the Mood for Love', (2000).

It is a restless moment.
She has kept her head lowered,
to give him a chance to come closer.
But he could not, for lack of courage.
She turns and walks away.

That era has passed.
Nothing that belonged to it exists any more.

He remembers those vanished years.
As though looking through a dusty window pane,
the past is something he could see, but not touch.
And everything he sees is blurred and indistinct.