Feria and a Visitor

I really can’t recommend Christian Dior red nail polish enough. It’s lasting pretty well, though requiring a second coat after a few hours of painting and clanging things and digging for old tubes of paint. I try to be more careful. I try to clean the pots without touching anything with them. Just want them to last a little longer. It’s my birthday and you shouldn’t really have to clean pots on your birthday.

To celebrate the reign of red nail polish, I watched the entire 1984 mini series of Lace on Sunday morning, while everyone else was asleep (“Incidentally, which one of you bitches is my mother?”). Fantastic. Glorious. Wouldn’t recommend Lace II though.

So, why the red nail polish?

Well, because the La Feria de Sevilla took place last week, and you can’t wear a flouncy, polka dot dress with frills on the sleeves so wide you have to have your hands permanently on your hip, without serious nail polish. It goes with the oversized hoop earrings and massive red rose in your hair. Why else would I be wearing it? And come to think of it, where else would I be wearing such get up? At the A& P show? Not bloody likely.

Actually, Feria is more like the A&P show than you would imagine. I adored the A&P Show. I used to get entry tickets from granddad, A&P Show member and sheep judge (naturally). I’d agree to meet up with friends and wander around in a group of giggling girls, eating deep fried sausages, looking at which rides to go on and which boys were there.

Feria has its roots in the annual sale of cattle and horses, mixed in with socialising and spring festivals that date back thousands of years. Everyone would set up tents, talk shop and drink Manzanilla, a very dry white sherry and acquired taste. The ladies decked themselves out in their best dresses, no two were the same with embroidered shawls, frills, tassels, hair combs, flowers and lace. Spain ‘s finest equine culture would be on display in the city and the bull fighters would torear in the Maestranza. Fairground attractions and even a circus set up on the edge of the city and the party would go on 24 hours a day for a week.

The only thing that has changed is that the sale has gone. The party remains. Seville forgets its economic woes for a week. The lights go on, the dresses come out and music starts. And there are serious economic woes. Unemployment is now 21% of the working population. The local Andalusian government can’t pay its bills and the banks won’t loan them money. Now that can’t be good. There will be an election next year and regardless of the outcome, life in Spain is set to get a lot harder. If tougher economic measures don’t come in soon, the country will go down the tubes.

Ah, but forget the woes, distract yourself! You should have seen me. It’s a rite of passage to get your first flamenco dress. The day Clara and I got dressed up, the three of us went to visit La Tata, Javier’s old nanny. She is too old to go to Feria, so we popped in to her house.

“Ah Emma, ya no eres de por allí, no eres de por allí.”

Emma, you’re no longer from there, you’re not from there.

Well, not entirely Tata. I had the pleasure of a visit from an old friend just a couple of weeks ago. While she finally got to see my Andalusian world, I relished long talks about another place. She brought wetlands, and rivers. I smelt the salt and walked on grass. I went to inspect some cows. I felt the rain, the cold easterly wind on my face and saw it shape the trees leaning into the coastal hills. Then as soon as she arrived, we were hugging each other goodbye at the airport, Clara grinning at her Auntie Huhana.

“You should hug people for at least 8 seconds to get the full effect” She said.

I could hang on much longer than that my friend. Haere ra e hoa.

Back out in the Andaluz light, in another time and place, I climb up with some kids onto a horse drawn cart to go to Feria. A tourist asks to take photos of us. I think of many years ago, when, as a tourist, I took photos of people doing exactly this, never realising that I would be sitting here many years later with my Spanish nephew on my lap.

Emma you’re no longer from there.

Little does Tata know that while the outside may be covered in polka dots and red nail polish, my pounamu, my ahi kaa is ablaze on the inside.


About the author Emma Louise Pratt

Emma Louise Pratt studied at Ilam School of Fine Art, Canterbury University, New Zealand. She has been the runner up in the Molly Morpeth Canaday Award (2005), and a finalist in the Norsewear Award (2007) in New Zealand and finalist in the Focus Abengoa International Painting Prize, Spain in 2014. Emma is known for her landscape based work where she explores specific landscapes that convey significance to her either for their historical or personal importance, serving as they always have, as a personal travel map.

All posts by Emma Louise Pratt →

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