I just found this old article that I wrote back in 2006 for Art All Magazine. Today I popped in to Drogueria Osario to buy some brushes. Big painting plans are afoot and I’ll be going back to talk about linen being cut and stretched to order.
Over time, Julio and his wife Refugio have become part of my world here as this world has become more a part of me than I could ever imagine. Julio and I have chatted while my child and his grandchild played in the local park and they have always taken an interest in my work. Last year Julio sadly passed away and I post this article again in memory of him.
PATIENCE: Outside, the shop is a kind of faded surgeon gown green with a dusty window display of various goods including domestic cleaning products, deoderant, a very faded tampax box and an assortment of painting brushes. Working out where necessary items can be found was one of the first hurdles I encountered (and still do) when I first arrived in Seville. I mean, tampons and paint brushes? Despite its faded looks and odd window display, the little “Drogueria Osario” as it calls itself, is doing a roaring trade.
There is barely enough room for three people to stand inside in front of the shop-length wooden counter, so on Mondays when students from the Fine Art Faculty are fresh from the weekend home and with money in their pockets, there is a queue outside. The existence of the queue is further explained by the fact that 100% of the merchandise is stored behind the counter and about 25 % of it in view of the customer. The proprietors, a man and his wife, wear light brown overcoats and deal patiently with each customer as they request, inspect, discuss each product’s benefits and select. All is put down on a scrap of paper and in honour of the large counter upon which all transactions are made, everything is then counted up by hand. The cash register being tucked out of the way and difficult to get to, the final tally is put in at the end.
Now this all may sound quaint and amusing to you. An anecdote of life for a New Zealander living overseas in an old Andalucian city, the whole senario coloured with a faint sepia warmth and the sounds of Cinema Paradiso flowing over you, or perhaps a little out-dated Franco-esque Flamenco (we are in Spain please) but I spent an hour and a half in there last week buying art supplies desperate to get moving and frankly I’m over it.
Having queued for almost everything else that morning, perhaps it was a bad day, but really, why aren’t these people thinking of moving somewhere bigger? Why can’t I just browse and pick up what I want supermarket style? Must I ask for every bloody thing and discuss it then be interupted and wait while she attends another person (cheeky little queue jumper!). It was one of those “comparing” moments I promised I wouldn’t do. Comparing your home country with the new one never does anyone any good and you just sound like a whinger.
In Seville at least, “paciencia” (patience) is an often quoted word, meant to soothe in the face of things you cannot change and usually uttered with a shrug. But “paciencia” isn’t what I have, because time isn’t what I have. We have been waiting for weeks for the boxes to finally get here from New Zealand (delays), I am living out of a suitcase making do with summer clothes in the late Sevillian winter (yes it does get cold) and I can’t help this feeling at times that I am moving through molasses. I’m worried about not getting my work done.
Now, I don’t want to conjure up the typical ideas of everyone living a life of lazy siestas over here. Seville is full of cars racing to get someone somewhere or caught in a traffic jam, horns a-tooting. People are working longer hours to keep up with increasingly competitive markets, for less income while house prices and rents rise beyond anyone’s reach (it all sounds very familiar).
The orange blossom, known as the azahar is starting to come out in the orange trees that famously line the streets of this city. It is the herald of spring, a small triumphant budded branch that people often walk about with in their hand. But in my quick walk from A to B, I look up at them and smell nothing but exhaust fumes. (Pause to think) Having observed that, perhaps I ought to see that suspended world of Drogueria Osario and its faded window display in another light.