Tag Archives: Guernica

Guernica Still Not Explained

I saw Picasso’s painting Guerncia when I visited the Renia Sofia Museum in Madrid and along with the high school students I was chaperoning tried to figure out what all the different images in the painting meant. 

I  knew the painting was done to protest the bombing of the town of Guernica during the Spanish Civil War. On an April day in 1937 German and Italian planes rained bombs down on the city killing thousands.  Picasso painted Guernica to commemorate that awful day but steadfastly refused to explain any of its imagery.  He said viewers could take their own meaning from his canvas.

I was hoping the play Guernica at the Winnipeg Fringe Festival would explain the painting in a way Picasso didn’t. I was disappointed. Although Picasso is the central figure in the drama you never actually see the painting, just a blank canvas and you don’t see him creating the painting as the advertising promises. 

The play takes us to Guernica on market day and in the city square we meet a young girl, a woman and her child, a prostitute, a vegetable seller and a  man waiting for the birth of his first child.  We get to know them during the course of the play and so when the bomb is dropped we feel bereft.

When I got home I looked at Picasso’s Guernica online and tried hard to see if the characters in the play were depicted in the painting. I could find a mother and child, and a woman who might have been the prostitute, but couldn’t make any other connections. A flower and a matador’s cape have a role in the play and are in the painting.  Those few connections were not enough to suit me. I wanted someone to tell me what the images in the painting meant, and why Picasso decided to paint the things he did, but I left the theatre with as many questions as I brought to the play. 

Other posts about the Winnipeg Fringe Festival…….

The Fringe Festival- Part 1

The Fringe Festival – Part 2


1 Comment

Filed under Art, Theatre

Planning Ahead Pays Dividends

It may seem ironic that in a blog titled What Next? in which I am trying to journal my attempts to live my first year of retirement more spontaneously, I am going to write this post about the importance of planning ahead. In the meditation I gave in church yesterday about being a pilgrim rather than a tourist in life, I talked about how planning ahead can enhance our life journeys and make them occasions for personal growth and learning.  

bullet holesIt took a great deal of planning and cutting through endless red tape to arrange a one day visit to a Palestinian refugee camp when I took twenty-four of my Hong Kong high school students to Israel.  It was thanks to the helpful MCC (Mennonite Central Committee) workers in Bethlehem that we were able to make the arrangements. When I read the students’ reflections after visiting the camp I knew that every minute spent planning the experience had been worth it. 


dave at daniel peters tombstone nikolaipolLearning about our families’ histories before we went to Ukraine made our trip there so much more meaningful. Here is Dave trying to read the German script on my great, great-grandfather Daniel Peters’ tombstone in the former Mennonite colony of Nikolaipol. I would never have even known that Daniel had lived there if I hadn’t prepared for our trip by reading the transcripts of the interviews one of my aunts did with my grandparents. 

A few years ago I had to help chaperone a  school trip to Spain. The art teacher who was leading the trip gave the students quite a number of pre-trip assignments.  I decided to do the assignments too.  I learned all about Picasso’s painting Guernica before I saw it at the Reina Sofia Museum in Madrid. Knowing why Picasso had painted this masterpiece and the message he was seeking to convey, made viewing the painting a powerful and moving experience for me. 

dave and shayliPhoning Shayli Patrick and arranging to meet her when we visited Australia added a delightful evening to our Sydney sojourn. Shayli was a former student of both Dave’s and mine, who had left her Manitoba home to work for a year as a nanny in Sydney. We were so glad we had contacted her ahead of time to arrange to get together. 


wayan eat pray loveReading the book Eat Pray Love before we went to Bali, allowed my friend Kathy and I to meet Wayan one of the characters in the book and have her make lunch for us at her restaurant. We simply followed the directions in the book and they led us down the right streets in Ubud. 

with jack and jon cambodiaBefore I, and two of my colleagues took 24 students to Cambodia in May, we met with the kids at least a half-dozen times. We played get to know you games, ate food together, planned for the service work we would do, talked about rules and the behavior we expected and learned about the history and culture of Cambodia.  The relationships established during those pre-trip planning meetings helped make the trip more fun and a breeze to chaperone. 
friends in fiji The planning for our trip to Fiji with our friends Alan and Simone and my sister Kaaren and her husband Ken began seven months ahead of time. Making arrangements so far in advance was the only way we could have coordinated all six of our schedules.

dave retired golfer new zealandSince we knew retirement was looming on our horizon we deliberately booked into bed and breakfasts in New Zealand that were run by retired people.  My husband Dave made all the arrangements and his careful planning resulted in us gleaning lots of great advice about how to approach our retirement years. 
dave and marylou with mustaqBefore we went on our trip to India we consulted with a number of our teaching colleagues who had traveled to India before. Through them we found Mustaq, the travel agent who arranged our private tour of northern India. He did a great job adding in all the ‘extras’ we wanted like a tiger safari and a tour with street kids in Delhi

In his book The Hero with a Thousand Faces Joseph Campbell says when on the threshold of a new adventure, we should consult allies like maps, music, artwork, books or people who point us in the right direction.  Planning ahead for a trip or for any experience in life can often make that experience richer and more meaningful. 

Leave a comment

Filed under New Experiences, Reflections