Friday, 4 July 2014

Skin deep thoughts

Summer is at its fullest. I enjoyed taking a long stroll at lunchtime and catching the heat of the sun earlier. It was delicious. I also had to brush up on my Shakespeare knowledge, as it looks like I'll be devising a few Shakespearian sonnet-writing workshops over the next few weeks; I thought I ought to write some myself.

I stumbled across this one by plucking a number from the air:
Thus is his cheek the map of days outworn,When beauty liv'd and died as flowers do now,Before the bastard signs of fair were borne,Or durst inhabit on a living brow;Before the golden tresses of the dead,The right of sepulchres, were shorn away,To live a second life on second head;Ere beauty's dead fleece made another gay.In him those holy antique hours are seen,Without all ornament, itself and true,Making no summer of another's green,Robbing no old to dress his beauty new;   And him as for a map doth Nature store,   To show false Art what beauty was of yore. 
I showed this sonnet to a class of twelve year old children. Once the stumbling block of antiquated language is removed, there are quite a few remarkable things to discuss; there are issues which may chime with our present-day realities. Perhaps the idea of stealing hair from the dead is unappealing now, but try watching the documentary Good Hair without concluding that some of our own practices are not equally absurd; cosmetic extremes are by no means a new thing.

Dark times

I can't be specific about the time or the place but I can't get this image out of my head - a line of mostly black children waiting to be let into a school building on a hot summer's day, similar to the one we've just had. Some of them are using books/ the shades of each other's backs/ their jackets/ their bags to cover up the skin on their arms and faces, and I overhear one or two of them explain that if they stay much longer in the sun, they're going to get too "blick". I don't have time to challenge them.

But, if I did, I hope I'd get the chance to show them this video, by Indigo Williams, about colour prejudice.
It's a strange and difficult issue to deal with in a multicultural setting, but I want to see if I am able to devise a few workshops that do challenge the status quo, even if they're a little uncomfortable to deal with.

to be continued...


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