Dear INSCAPE Members and Friends,
I write with fresh news for those of you booked on our upcoming Mallorca and Menorca trip, Wednesday 5 to Monday 10 March. Forty years ago when I was a very young and shy assistant working in my first job at Dorchester Museum, I grew especially fond of a slight and intense retired librarian named Helen Cooke, who volunteered in the subscriptions department of the Museum. She introduced me to the poetry and prose of Robert Graves, with whom she was a keen correspondent. My response to her interest in Graves must have rather pleased her as when she died she left me his letters to her, written when he was living on Mallorca. In preparation for the Mallorca trip I spoke to Graves’ son William, who continues to live in his father’s house at Deia. He was most excited to hear about these letters; I shall be taking him copies for the Deia library and he will personally host our visit. It will be a privilege to visit this property; Robert Graves was one of the most important writers of the 20c. Making his reputation with ‘Goodbye to All That’, an often acid autobiography recounting his time at Charterhouse and in the trenches of the First World War, Graves cemented his reputation from his retreat on Mallorca with the ‘I, Claudius’ series of novels, beginning in 1934, listed in the top twenty novels of the 20c.
Also, last week I had tea with a former colleague, Baroness Dorothea von Friesen, a lecturer on Bhutan and Elizabeth of Bohemia, at her flat in Chelsea. She has lived in Molino de Cuxach, Mallorca for the past thirty years in a picturesque ancient mill house built against an ochre-and-pink Roman aqueduct on Mallorca. When she learned that INSCAPE was going to Mallorca, she arranged with her stepson Alexander, Baron von Friesen, to welcome us to the house. I am quite sure that her life of travelling with her diplomat husband, as well as her own passions in her professional life, will be well-reflected in the art and furnishings of this fine house.
Baroness von Friesen also put us in touch with the remarkable Fundación Yannick y Ben Jakober, an eclectic collection of contemporary art and sculpture featuring the work of artists Yannick and Ben Jakober themselves, housed in their wonderfully designed villa. We shall find there a rose garden of 200 varieties, wonderful buildings, as well as a brilliantly displayed and well-lit collection of portraits of children of European royalty and other historical figures from the sixteenth to the twentieth centuries. Housed in a converted ancient water reservoir, the portraits offer a glimpse of the mysterious world of childhood and provide a fabulous opportunity to follow the evolution of a certain way of depicting children, as well as the metamorphosis of clothing. Yannick Jacober himself says about this collection, “To a certain extent, this collection is a history of a family, a great European family, told through its unions and alliances.” We have asked Marie-Claire Yannick Jakober herself to introduce us to the collection.
Scheduled deliberately and carefully with many private exclusive visits BEFORE the onset of plagues of tourists, this trip will include a visit to Chopin’s Carthusian monastery where one can imagine him writing exquisite piano pieces in the still air, and another to the three unique buildings of Joan Miro’s studio, home and foundation in Cala Major. Miro, whose mother was Mallorcan, said that in Mallorca the direct contact he had with the earth allowed him to soak up energy as if he were a tree! Our Menorcan boat odyssey will allow us to explore astonishing Bronze Age architecture seen nowhere else.
It is not too late to jump on board as we have not yet quite closed the bookings list!
Those of you tempted by earlier descriptions of this particular trip may now have a bit more reason to succumb… we do hope so!
Best wishes to you all