Stories hidden in the stone

By March 2, 2016 Inspiration

Visiting the beautiful architectural sites of southern Italy or Spain, I love observing the small details engraved or carved into the stone. In Sicily it might be an Arabic inscription on the tomb of a Norman king or in Andalusia the name of a Jewish stonemason carved into the walls of the great mosque in Cordoba.
These details help us piece together an imaginary picture of life at that time. During my last visit to Sicily I made a lot of sketches of these fascinating details because they show that for a brief moment in history, that lasted less than a century, Sicily under the Norman kings was a blazing torch of religious tolerance in the medieval gloom. Multi-cultural and multi-racial societies are the hallmark of European civilisation today and yet we’re often led to believe that they are a modern phenomenon. But as medieval Spain and Sicily show, this multiculturalism was the founding stone of European civilisation and although these pockets of brilliance were often extinguished, they existed nonetheless – like trails of light in the night.