Chapter 4 The English Garden

Years go by, and Valentina embraces life in England, growing roses in her English garden. Millais’ painting is full of coded messages – the Victorian concept of ‘the language of flowers’. Red roses symbolise passion. In Millais’ painting of the lovers standing by the wall the young woman is trying to make her lover wear the white scarf that would protect him from persecution and possibly death, and he, despite his love for her refuses to renounce his faith. Here Canterbury Bells signify faith; and Nasturtiums, patriotism.

A Huguenot by John Everett Millais
A Huguenot by John Everett Millais

Valentina settles in the East Coast of England, she marries and has a family. But she never did forget Raoul.

I work the land here, I rise each morning
I thank the Lord and reap what I have sown.
I left my homeland, but kept my God-fear
I looked up to him when I set off alone.

I’m long since married; I have three daughters,
I love them dearly and we are family
And my garden is full of roses
I give them water and feed them tenderly.

My husband loves me; we work together
And spend the evenings until the fire burns low.
But when my candle is pale and smoky
I think back to you, I never let you go.
Our last embrace by the wall,
You kept your faith, you would not lie
The broken bell signalled your fall,
I never knew if you would live or die

In the darkness we lay down in the heather
One kiss to last forever, before I went to sea.
My eldest daughter, she looks so like you.
But home is here now, what is and what will be.
I made my life here; I rise each morning
I thank the Lord and reap what I have sown
I left my homeland but kept my God-fear
I looked up to Him when I set off alone
I made my life here; I rise each morning
I thank the Lord and reap what I have sown
And in my garden, my English garden
I tend my roses, and water them…alone.

Chapter 3 The Same Sky

Following Valentina’s tale is Raoul’s story.

Raoul stands by his faith and stays behind. It’s a sad song now that his lover has gone. He looks up at the heavens and feels comfort in knowing that wherever she is, she’ll look up and see the same moon, the same stars…

…The Same Sky

The Transit of Venus

I don’t know where you are
But I guess where you’ll be
Under the same sky as me
Where you’ll be, well I guess
‘Cross the cold northern sea
Follow the same star as me

Now you’re gone

In a strange land you are
But not alone refugee
Under the same moon as me
Where you’ll be, well I guess
But I know what you’ll see
See the same sky as me

Now you’re gone

I don’t know where you are
But I guess where you’ll be
Under the same sky as me
Where you’ll be, well I guess
Growing flowers for me…

I feel the same sun!

Under the same sky

© 2012 Duffy-Howard

Chapter 2 Into the Sun

My Ancestors were French…a tale inspired by the little alpine flower, the Primula auricula and the story of how it came to be grown and displayed on Auricula Theatres here in England. A fascinating folk tale of love, loss and new beginnings, exploring the significance of ancestry and identity, drawing on the influences of the first refugees to come to England in the 16th Century – the Huguenot people…

Fleet Street cropChapter Two – Into the Sun

Here begins Valentina’s tale. Young lovers, Valentina and Raoul separate when she escapes persecution and comes to England as a refugee. Valentina boards a boat for the East Coast of England, leaving her lover behind to an uncertain fate, possibly death. She brings Primula auricula flower seeds and the skills to grow the little flowers here as a reminder of home. The Huguenot people were skilled artisans and were well accepted in their new land. Although Valentina misses her loved ones she is relieved to be travelling over the sea into the unknown and a new life. Valentina says she’ll never forget Raoul…but as is often the case, madness and the wind are blowing over the sea…

Quentin and Dilzar started filming yesterday…

We have started work on a film of the evocative responses Rich and Dilzar gathered for Richard Lees’ ‘Seeking Asylum in Hull’ poster exhibition at Wilberforce House Museum (during Wilberforce 2007) and at The Lamp club in Hull.

Quentin filmed Dilzar talking about his experiences of what it feels like to be a stranger in a strange land, and how music can bring people of different cultures together, overcoming adversity and creating something good and new.

Richard documented the days filming; here are a couple of photos from the shoot…

Outdoor shooting begins
Outdoor shooting begins
In the bag
In the bag

Would you like to come to a workshop?

Would you like to come to a free, fun and engaging workshop as part of the Heritage Lottery Funded All Our Stories scheme, in support of BBC2’s ‘The Great British Story – A People’s History’

 Explore the significance of your ancestry using storytelling, music, art and poetry.

 Draw on the influences of the first refugees to come to England in the 16th Century – the Huguenot people.

Willerby Methodist Church Hall – East Riding of Yorkshire, UK
Sunday March 3rd 2013 2.00 pm – 4.00 pm

OR

U3A – St Barnabas’ Church Hall Swanland, East Riding of Yorkshire UK
Sunday March 10th 2013 2.00 pm – 4.00 pm

All welcome. Light refreshments will be provided.

Places are limited so please email loudhailer@duffyhoward.karoo.co.uk to book your place as soon as possible.

Work produced at these workshops, and Wolfreton School and illustration workshops will be displayed at a local event on May 4th 2013 which will celebrate the stories uncovered and work created for the ‘My Ancestors were French’ project.

Elements of the workshop will be filmed and will contribute to a digital archive of the Heritage Lottery Fund’s All Our Stories project, in support of the BBC’s The Great British Story – A People’s History.

Primula auricula Athene

 

My Ancestors were French… a tale inspired by the lovely little alpine flower, the Primula auricula and the story of how it came to be grown and displayed on Auricula Theatres here in England.

Chapter 1 Kings and Weavers

My Ancestors were French…a tale inspired by the lovely little alpine flower, the Primula auricula and the story of how it came to be grown and displayed on Auricula Theatres here in England – a fascinating folk tale of love, loss and new beginnings.

There are seven musical chapters to the story.

Chapter One – Kings and Weavers 
The Primula auricula is a little flower whose origins are in the Alps. Imagine how it will have been trampled underfoot by the Roman Legions travelling across the continent two thousand years ago. By the 16th century the auricula became a symbol of wealth and was grown in what is now France and Belgium by the first people to be known as ‘florists’ – The Huguenot people. They were also craftsmen and women, weavers and silk workers. It is believed to be the Huguenot people who made auricula growing popular in England when they came here as refugees from the French wars of religion in the 16th century.

‘Kings and Weavers’ introduces the young couple in our story, Valentina and Raoul. Although Valentina and Raoul are fictional, they represent many people fleeing persecution and making a new life in a new and strange land, even here, today. I imagine Valentina and Raoul are similar to the couple standing in the walled garden in Huguenot Victorian artist, John Everett Millais’ painting of a Huguenot on St Bartholomew’s Day.

A huguenot
A Huguenot on St Bartholomew’s Day

“They wrap each other up, but also pull in opposite directions” S.P Casteras

© 2012 Duffy-Howard