I met Melissa Muys in Damme near Bruges in Belgium. She was exhibiting her paintings in a small gallery and we got to talking. I was very fascinated by her paintings. They depicted creatures with animal and human features. At the same time, they were painted in such detail that they came to life before my eyes. And each of Melissa’s creatures had its own little story. This made the exhibition all the more interesting.
No wonder Melissa is now working on her first children’s book. Her concept is great, and I’m sure the new work will also be a success. Good luck, Melissa!
Preface by Melissa Muys:
How kings butter their buns, where priests get their holy water or which wine the prime minister preferred with his piece of game, is certainly mentioned somewhere in the chronicles.
But what about common people? What do we know about them? How did they live the past centuries? That knowledge has often been lost. This heritage cell will change that in the future.
You can read these stories divergently; enjoying the banality of everyday life. You can marvel at the openness of a people. You can laugh at their foolishness, be amazed at their survival instinct and watch them wallow in their situation and continue to wallow, how they struggle with life, adapt to circumstances just to stay afloat and be part of the society we live in.
You can also search for a deeper insight. After all, history is viewed here for the first time from a completely different point of view. These are no longer the scientists or the politicians to tell how society works. No, this is the people, ordinary simple people who are in the middle of life and share their experiences with you.
A vision is never rigid, everything is coloured, there are always different angles from which to illuminate. Life, history, society is made up of puzzled pieces. All those pieces click together, complement each other. It just comes down to finding the right click.
Culture grows and flourishes, where all the pieces touch, where one complements the other.
These stories reflect the society and generation in which we live.
Culture is the foundation of our identity.
The matter that is close to my heart as a professor is not unequivocal and evokes a lot of friction. For many years I was an absolute advocate in preserving traditional cultures. That is how this heritage cell came about. Yet I would like to emphasize that the quest for balance is the key to succes. Culture of all kinds are the foundation of our identity. That is precisely why evolution and change of that culture is inevitable and necessary.
Together with my father I crossed the Amazon. We visited village after village. Every community had its own knowledge, own rites and beliefs. The outside world scoffed these cultures and depicted it as retarded. Those who did not disappear into the shadow of the Amazon forest, westernized and lost the knowledge that was passed on from generation to generation and what remained in the end? Now more than ever before social media swallows every piece of personality and waltzes over us in unity march. Popular songs, photos and movies supplant any form of folklore.
Until recently I was deeply convinced that individuality was of the utmost importance. But what about the problem of integration in the case of large population movements due to war or poverty? To what extend does culture play an important role here? Should folklore be preserved at all costs? Tie-up may not be an option after all. Culture evolves.
When it doesn’t, we alienate from society. Remember the Mormons, the shaker community, communities of conservative faith. Changes are part of life. You cannot freeze time and the once that are not able to change opinions come to a death end at one time. Insight teaches that the quest for balance is vital.
You should agree that these comments are something to think about?
About my mom Sorina
Although I am very grateful that she fled her homeland and made our lives much easier, I can only say that my mother was a tyrant. She was actually a perfect publicity board for the state in which she was raised; the land she spit out all her life.
She fled at night. On a freezing winter night she waded through the cold glacial waters of the river right there where the river is at its widest and the chances of survival of a crossing were considered nil. But my mother pulled it off, all on her own. She undressed on the other side, took dry clothes from the bag she had tied on top of her head, and stepped into a new life.
I was her oldest child and only daughter. After me came Christopher and Samuel. But all she really cared about was making money, getting out of the pit of poverty.
And it must be said, she succeeded.
Our mother founded „Sorina ways“, a transport company, with the help of our father. She conducted and our father delivered, in the most impossible places. Sometimes he was on the road for days.
I had two brothers. Christopher and Samuel. Both had a difficult childhood. Christopher is a gorgeous guy, he loves beauty but suffers from social anxiety disorder.
„Samuel knows no fear but resolutely turned away from society and lives in isolation.“
Professor D. Kabriç
„At night, devoid of all light
awakens my soul.
She frees herself from the lumpy flesh
and dances across the room.
Silky fabric wraps around my arms
as if the silk itself seeks security
It sticks to my spine
and tickles my legs.
A dreamy pirouette,
a breath of wind
The dust blows up
and embraces me again, and again, and again.
Devoid of all light, I feel the tangible existence of my body.“
My name is Sam, short for Samuel.
I am a fisherman. The raging sea is what I adore: to feel the struggle between life and death in all your limbs. Back then I didn’t care if I had a good catch. The thinning, the tossing, the being washed over by high cold waves, the feeling of being alive! Ooh, how I miss this, now being old!
Women and booze have never appealed to me. I loved the silence, the whispering winds, the far-reaching views, and certainly not the drunken talk or affection of searching women.
Then one day the lighthouse was for sale. I thought, this one is for me! Here I can spend my days in seclusion. I will enjoy the foggy nights, when the clouds embrace me and the wind sings to me….
But as I sit here and think back fondly on my time at sea, I wonder if I made the wrong choice. Maybe one day I should have just set sail to never return.
I’m Sorina, I’m from Transpartania, but I’ve lived here almost all my life. I fled. I had to leave, I wanted to live, I wanted adventure and I wasn’t going to find that in Transpartania.
My country is screaming stop! Don’t come any further traveller! This is the end, a little further and you will fall off!
Fleeing west, I couldn’t take much. All extra ballast was left behind. Three small perfume bottles was all I took. Two of them survived the journey. Perfume was the center of our existence for my family. We, women have a particularly well-developed nasal organ. From far and wide people came to buy my mother’s aroma blends.
Perfume was an important commodity in our region. A weekly bath was non existing. Overhere we would rather call it a summer bath. A dip in the river often had to suffice to maintain hygiene, then you understand that wrapping yourself in fresh aromas became not just a luxury, but of pure necessity. The whole village depended on my mother’s aroma sales. Some went into the mountains in search of special flowers, others were involved in drying flowers and herbs. In better times, the bottle industry itself flourished.
But our country is barbaric, and whenever our business was doing well, it would surely be destroyed by another conflict, a village war, a blockade of roads, destruction of buildings.
Again and again we had to start from scratch. That weighs and one day it’s too much.
Gaston De Meaurain
My name is Gaston De Meaurain. I was born in January 1908, in a completely different world!
When I was about ten years old, towards the end of the war, a French plane crashed near our village. We tended the pilot and hid him from the enemy.
In the early 1920s, I decided to visit that pilot in France. He was a cousin of René Caudron, the founder of the aircraft factory in Crotoy. In gratitude for my help during the war, I was given shelter in their home. I got a job in the factory, got to know René better and was given the possibility to join the flight school. It was a fantastic time. Pilots from all over the world came to Crotoy. They were prepared here as an elite corps of the flying fleet, and then there was me, a son of a West Flemish farmer, who for some reason got acces to everything.
I continued to work for René in Crotoy until he decided to withdraw from the Caudron-Reunault partnership in 1939.
When World War II started, all activity stopped in Crotoy. I secretly tinkered with a plane using pieces left behind in the old warehouse. When the war ended, my plane was ready. I said goodbye to René and took off with my first test flight. I was euphoric. No one thought I would get that old box up in the air!!!!
I ran out of petrol somewhere above Antwerp, so I landed on a field. Even before I had come to a good stop, Sorina stood there. She spoke Romanian, had fled Transpartania.
At flight school I learned a mouthful of Romanian. Meeting Sorina defined the rest of my life. We set up a transport company. With my plane I flew all over Europe, to the most remote places. The adventure I had dreamed of all my life became a reality thanks to the strength of my wife.
Oh God, My name is Basil. I spent my childhood in the States, but returned to my roots. My mother left here by boat to America in the late 1930s, in search of a better life. All my life I heard her tell about her life in Europe and her boat trip on the red star lines.
When I visited here, I felt like coming home. And of course meeting Christopher also helped. I never left.
Christopher needed me, so I had to stay …
I’ve been a costume designer for the theater all my life. A fantastic job! Very beautiful years … Christopher likes to dress up, especially in my feminine designs. I now also make them especially for him. He still doesn’t really wear them outside, but on special occasions, when the evening twilight blurs the contrasts, he ventures into the public eye. He walks so gracefully in high heels. You should see that! He chooses a dress and I get to do his make-up. Delicious!
More pictures by Melissa and her fascinating world:
Meet Melissa on Instagram!