Re-entering my Childhood…

I went to downtown Dallas to enjoy fine art with a couple of friends.

We started at The Trammel and Margaret Crow collection of Asian Art.  A small space with permanent exhibits displaying some exquisite work like this Indian facade with balcony residing on the first floor (upstairs) with cushions in front of it for meditation.


Close up the detail was intricate with plenty of places to catch dust,

I caught myself thinking, I’m so glad I’m not in charge of cleaning all this woodwork.

One of the art ideas, in which two artists collaborate using photographs and traditional brush and ink painting,


Painter Arnold Chang & photographer Michael Cherney

was fascinating and I caught myself thinking,

if I was still homeschooling I would definitely try this technique with my children.

Then we went on to the DMA to view an exhibit called Mexic0 1900-1950:  Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo, Jose Clemente Orozco and the Avant-Gard.

The last time I visited the museum I had had four youngsters with me and we had gone early to beat the crowd and have a docent.  It had been a well attended homeschool field trip.  The museum staff were not children friendly and none of us stayed long which was a shame because mine were well behaved having visited England with us numerous times and been trailed through castles, galleries, museums and cathedrals absorbing a sense of artistic awareness from a very young age.

Obviously not well behaved enough for the testy staff that day.

This day, however, the atmosphere was quite different, there were strollers and toddlers and lots of young people around.  I was heartened.  There’s nothing like art to stimulate the imagination and get the senses activated.

After the Mexican exhibit we paused for a moment with a cup of coffee to take in all we’d seen so far and to talk, a little.

Then, since we were there, we visited the Keir Collection of Islamic Art Gallery …

And I took a step back in time.

From my first glimpse of the Quran to the glass ewer hewn out of rock crystal and the brilliant Shiraz blue (as I used to call it) I was transported to my childhood.  Not the early years but my formative years between the ages of 12 and 18 spent in the middle-east.

Something in the gallery unlocked a hidden chamber in my heart and released memories so powerful I gasped. I retraced my steps to examine the collection more deliberately and in so doing was cast into a time I had relegated to the more painful parts of my life.

Boarding school, separation from my parents, the anxiety of loss leading to the foundering of our family.

The few weeks I had spent at home in Lebanon or Iran were taken up with friends, parties, swimming, dancing to popular western music and carefree Embassy living.  The games were overshadowed by the end – date which marked the return to our respective institutions, in England, for the rest of the year.

The Keir collection offered a different perspective on that period, one I had not considered.

Gone were the cold stone walls, the abandonment, the sadness…

I breathed deeply and quietly hardly daring to move,

Here was the calligraphy,


the fabric, the pottery and jewelry, the tiles and carpets and colours that resonated from the culture that I had been steeped in without noticing.

I was entranced by an illustration from an ancient book,


stories of heroes and kings read from right to left reminding me of my first Tin-Tin comic book written in arabic, strange at first but after a few years leading to a lifelong habit of reading my magazines from right to left and sizing up books from the back cover first.

I recognized the arabic numerals; I’d learned them to use the telephone as a teenager and read house numbers when visiting.

I have a set of iron number plates from our car in Beirut, rescued from an abandoned suitcase in my parents’ garage.

The brilliant Shiraz blue found on etchings and small bowls taken from my mother’s curio when I sold her London flat had inspired my partiality towards the sapphires I prefer in my rings and necklaces.

Pewter vases and a small table grace the Snug where we watch Netflix and relax in the evenings.  They bear inscriptions in farsi, a language my parents’ learned when posted to Tehran.  I have examples of splendid penmanship in their distinctive handwriting despite the foreign alphabet.

Even the pages of the Quran kindled a sense of the familiar; I’d first seen it at school in the hills of Lebanon and was amazed that my friend could not only read it out loud to me but translate it into English (albeit with an American accent).

Peace and serenity spread through me as I wandered the gallery re-aquainting myself with a world I’d carelessly set aside.

And so blossomed a happier perspective.  This long forgotten Islamic culture, that had lingered in my soul for decades, arose unbidden to remind me of another facet of my childhood.

A brief yet beautiful time shared with my parents.

I felt completely at home among the Arabic and Persian artifacts that brought them to my mind’s eye.

Quite an awakening.

Share this:

No comments so far!

Leave a Comment