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BATIK ART BY JONATHAN S. EVANS
Confessions of an Itinerant Batik Artist

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SCHOOLDAZE (A slight Reprise)

 

In one sense I realize that I wasn't ready yet to change my life too radically and had still kept one foot back in the real world. Before leaving England, I had written to an International school near Santa Eulalia on the island which was run by a Canadian woman called Felicity. I had described my four years experience in various progressive school systems and had immediately been offered a job starting in the Fall of 1970. So in September, I became a commuter, traveling across the island each day to teach art and art history throughout the school and all subjects to the very youngest children.

 

I tried hard to get involved in teaching again but almost from the first, it felt like a mistake to have taken this job at Felicity's. There were probably 60 pupils at the school and all were the children of immigrants like myself. They were a surprisingly precocious bunch, coming from a broad spectrum of backgrounds with all the neuroses and problems common to kids who have moved around a lot and who have artists and drop-outs as parents. Actually most of them were rather conventional although one 13 year old offered to sell me drugs on my first day in the classroom which I found a little shocking. At first I tried hard to create a stimulating atmosphere in my classroom and continued to teach using the open plan classroom system that the Oxfordshire Education Dept. had pioneered in England. But it was soon obvious that there were no clear overall policies operating at the school. One teacher used to continually shout at the children and even slap them around the head if things got out of hand. Another had her class reciting maths tables all day long and it was clear that art was given a low priority at the school. I started to have policy disagreements with Felicity almost straight away. To cap it all, my salary cheques kept bouncing due to the precarious finances of many of the children's parents. I actually got into quite a bit of trouble with local Ibiza stores when all of my cheques bounced as a result. But most importantly of all, I realized that my heart wasn't truly into teaching any longer. Privately I didn't believe that children should be taken out of their homes for eight hours every day and subjected to the random and varying whims of teachers. I even doubted my own ability to teach anyone, anything, anymore.

 

As if on cue, I fell in love and my life changed completely. A young attractive Spanish woman taught Spanish at the school. Her name was Guiomar and her young son was called Kikorro after his father Kike who, I was impressed to learn, had played the lead role in Pasolini's "St. John of the Cross" a few years before. I soon started hanging out with Guiomar because she was the first 'modern' Spaniard that I had met. She had enormous black mascared eyes and long straight hair. She had done some traveling and was interested in movies, books and politics and in staying up late and talking to all hours. But she wasn't in the slightest bit interested in getting romantically involved with me and made that quite clear. I liked her a lot and we often used to finish school at the same time and drive off in her ancient Citroen to cook food at her little apartment near the beach at Es Cana. One weekend, her friend Marie Luz came from Barcelona to stay with her. Marie Luz, who was to have a major impact on my life, was a small woman, 10 years older than I, with a despotic husband and seven children in Barcelona. In a very Catholic society, she had taken the extraordinarily brave step of leaving her husband the year before and now lived with a group of Chilean students. She lived in the same neighbourhood as her old house so that she could be near her kids. She was in the middle of a very bitter and emotional struggle with her husband and friends who were putting tremendous pressure on her to return to her husband or face the consequences of her act. By Spanish law, she could lose all rights over her children whom she absolutely adored. Marie Luz was a graphic artist who drew beautifully. She was also the possessor of one of those picture book classically Spanish faces. It was very symmetrical with high prominent cheekbones, dark angry eyes and a perfectly straight nose. She was barely 5 feet tall and it always amazed me that she had had so many children so early and so easily. Later, when I saw her playing with her children, she always looked like she was one of them, the oldest sister, and I realized that therein was the secret of her ease as a mother. In a week, I went from complaining and confiding to Marie Luz that I was getting nowhere with Guiomar, to being her lover. She spoke no English and I no Spanish yet so we communicated in a sort of pidgin French, substituting English or Spanish words for French words we didn't know. Soon we were communicating using our own private language. We sat together on the beach one sunset and watched the ferryboat leave without her for Barcelona. Finally she had to go back to Barcelona.

Saying good-bye was painful and I soon missed Marie Luz terribly. I tried to get back into my island life but it suddenly seemed hollow and meaningless. So I took the ferry myself to Barcelona in search of Marie Luz and we were lovingly reunited at the Port. We spent a wonderful week together but when we tried to return to the island, heavy storms delayed our ferry's departure. With no real place to be together, we moved into our cabin on the ferry while we waited several days for the weather to improve. When I finally got back to the School, Felicity had found a substitute teacher and sacked me.

 

 

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