A story of love, loss and faith

Abby Wright has created this beautiful brand new contemporary illustration especially for our project. it is inspired by Millais’ painting, which we show and use at the MAWF workshops and events.

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Abby’s Illustration
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A Huguenot by John Everett Millais

A Huguenot, on St. Bartholomew’s Day, (1852) by John Everett Millais. Set in the French Wars of Religion, the young woman is trying to make her lover wear the white scarf which would protect him from persecution and possibly death. He, despite his love for her refuses to renounce his faith.

Painted in Victorian England, the picture uses The Language of Flowers, showing Canterbury Bells and Nasturtiums to express faith and patriotism.

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

Worth 6 minutes of anybody’s time…

My Ancestors were French Film – Stranger in a Strange Land

 “When I came to England, to Hull, it was a different language, culture and basically everything was like a big lock. And it was locked. The key to my life in Hull was music. If you take the music out of the world there would be nothing left to make a difference.”

Mike's Illustration
May the taxi driver’s cab be as empty as his soul

 “I had invited a couple of my friends from Bradford we were walking to town and they were saying we’ve heard Hull’s really bad and I was saying no not really, I’ve got some really good friends and it’s a really nice place to live, I’ve been to other cities but I think Hull is beautiful. Whilst I was talking a taxi passed us and the taxi driver leaned out of the window and started shouting ‘go back to your own country’, you know really shouting, really angry and my friend was saying well it must be really hard to live in Hull. I said ok there are some idiots but I have some really good friends here, don’t believe all the rumours. With that, the taxi got to the end of Spring Bank and turned around, he drove back just so he could hurl abuse at us for a second time. I was really mad; I was just telling my friends how beautiful Hull was.”

 “Once I went to one of the supermarkets in a shopping centre. I went to pay, I paid and I said thank you and the woman at the checkout smiled and said thank you too. The way she said it and looked at me she really meant it. This was the first time someone here had said thank you to me. I can’t explain how it made me feel but it made the rest of my day wonderful.”

 “I was waiting at a bus stop there was a woman with a child in a push-chair the bus came and she was struggling to get on and I said ‘do you want help with the push-chair?’ She said ‘no, but you can hold my baby’ and when she got off the bus and I said ‘do you want help with the push-chair’ and she said ‘no but you can hold my baby again’ and because in this country usually people would not trust someone like me, but she did, it made me feel good because she showed me that not everyone believes the lies some people tell about us.”

Another angle
Making the film

 “My friend, he’s Kurdish too, he can go to night clubs in town, pubs, anywhere, he has a great time and comes home feeling good. Nobody tells him to ‘go back to your own country’, but he doesn’t look like me. His skin is whiter and he’s got blue eyes.”

 “In my city, Howlare in Kurdistan, it is very flat just like Hull. Many years ago people built a hill in the middle of the city with their hands, so you could see it from miles around and know that you were close to home. When you see it after a long journey, it warms your heart and lifts your spirit. Here I travel with my band all over England to beautiful places with good people, playing at parties and gigs, but we know it’s not home and at the end of the night when we are really tired we know we have to go back. When we see the Humber Bridge, it’s like the hill in the middle of Howlare. We look at each other, smile and say ‘Yeah! Let’s go!’ “

 “My home in Kurdistan I shared with seven sisters, three brothers, my mum and my dad. There is a beautiful garden. We have two different orange trees, olive, pomegranate and a grapefruit tree which isn’t really grapefruit, it’s much more special. There are two grapevines in the garage, one black and one white. The roof of our house is flat; you can go to sleep up there watching the stars. And the stars are like nothing else. Everything is so clear you can navigate by them; you always know where you are. It is like being on a different planet. It is so beautiful. But I had to leave. I had no choice. I was seventeen. I have been looking for the stars since I’ve been in England but I can’t see them.”

 “Even though I have seen many horrors in my life, I still think I am lucky because I have brought good things from Kurdistan and I can see the good things in England.”

Quotes collected and translated by Dilzar Shanga and Richard Duffy-Howard

“What an incredibly powerful film. I hope you have many opportunities to share it. I will remember to smile!” CS

“I am so grateful for you forwarding the information regarding the video. I have just watched it and feel extremely moved.
Thank you again for your generosity and hope that such moving pieces touch the hearts of many.”

“I am so very touched by your film. It moves me to tears and to very broad smiles. It is so generous.
Thank you.
My very best wishes, GB”

“If people can clear their minds and watch this film and listen they may rethink and see the real picture for people who are sometimes just looking to be accepted, no matter where you are from. We all carry hidden sadness.” Ron Wilke

“Wow, what a beautiful film! It made me feel very emotional.” AW

“This is fantastic and a great piece of sociological reporting as well as art. Hull is, at long last, a diverse city and will become more so in the future. I’m excited and proud to see our city celebrating this and giving residents an insight into how life is for people when they arrive in this city. The global movement of people is a fact and is of benefit to all of us living in this world, be this out of choice or to flee persecution. The ignorant racist comments written here, as well as those I see so often written in response to other articles, just show the authors to be uneducated bigots. I suspect these people are happy to be called uneducated bigots, but I feel that someone should at least point it out.” Red Fraggle73 Hull Daily Mail 5th February 2013


Not alone, Refugee…

The lovers in our story, Valentina and Raoul, have been torn apart when Valentina escapes from persecution during the Reformation and comes to live in England, while Raoul stands by his faith and stays in France, facing an uncertain future, possibly death.

This song is Raoul’s story. He is so sad now that his lover has gone, but 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

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

The Transit of Venus

© 2012 Duffy-Howard

In the Greenwood

Valentina is in England. In folklore the full moons have evocative names which are connected to the season such as Wolf Moon & Sturgeon Moon. The spring moon, when the Auriculas are in bloom is known in as The Flower Moon, and sometimes the Full Corn Planting Moon. Moons come and go and Valentina finds solace in the nature and the English woodland; in the trees and animals in the wood. The seasons turn, the full flower moon comes around again, and the Greenwood is good.

The flower moon is rising
Deer startle up on the hill
It reminds me that I’m far from home
When the clear night air is still
And cool is the spring here
When the hare runs along the hedge
My pretty flowers still bloom for you
With a green and silver edge
And the flower moon is full

The flower moon looks bright tonight
And the flower moon is full

Now I sleep alone I lay down in the greenwood
Now I sleep alone I lay down in the green leaves

By the time the harvest moon comes around
And the fox hides down in the field
There’s fire in the air and there’s storm in the hills
But my heart is still not healed
And it hurts deep down inside
When I think of the love that we lost
Oh my broken heart is still not healed
I lost love’s battle without a shield
And the harvest moon is full

Yeah the harvest moon looks bright tonight
And the harvest moon is full

Now I sleep alone I lay down in the greenwood
Now I sleep alone I lay down in the brown leaves

When the planting moon comes round again
And the badger hunts in the wood
I remember the beautiful flowers of home
But life out here is good
And the planting moon is full
Yeah the planting moon looks bright tonight
And the planting moon is full
The flower moon is high tonight
The flower moon looks white tonight
The flower moon is bright tonight

And the greenwood is good! 

© Louise Duffy-Howard 2012
Auriculas grown and photographed by Richard Duffy-Howard

English Garden

The next chapter of our Auricula Suite tale…


In our next song, many years have passed 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. 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.

© 2012  Lou Duffy-Howard

Auriculas grown and photographed by Richard Duffy-Howard