Lockdown in Spain has been…

…actually a time of nourishment for me in many ways. The world has literally been toxic with a virus but quarantining has been a time to detoxify, psychically, from other’s auric energy fields. It’s a relief. Okay, so lesson planning every day and teaching online has still consumed my time but it has been more wholesome. And my job I’ve come to value and enjoy, not least because I’m good at it, because it means I come into contact with some hilarious humans I’m delighted to have as students, but because it’s my bread and butter and supports my everyday needs. So the rest of my time can be spent seeking refuge in all the other art forms I’m obsessed with, that I need in my life to quite simply be my healthiest liberated self. Like photography. Trying to capture a beatific glimpse of the eternal.

View from my terrace with last week’s full moon, Digital Photograph © N. Nazir, 2020

I rent a roomy attic flat above a bookshop on the main plaza in Aranda de Duero. It’s airy and spacious and open plan with lovely light to write, read, draw, sew. It’s big enough for two but perfect for one, I love having all this space to myself, I revel in it, it allows me to think and clear my thoughts. It allows me mental replenishment, a great place to self-isolate.

Plaza Mayor, view from my terrace, Digital Photograph © N. Nazir, 2020

I’m lucky, I know. I enjoy solitude and the artistic life, it suits me fine. It’s freezing in winter and when the spring storms come a-blustering, the wind whistles through, the rain pelts a tattoo and leaks through in various parts of the flat, but now I know where so I always have strategically placed bowls here and there to catch it, and there they remain. The ceiling creaks and groans constantly, involuntarily, particularly in the dead of night, at times jolting me awake with the snapping sound of wood shrinking back to its former size. I find all these idiosyncrasies comforting. I’ll miss this place. It wormed its way into my heart. Sloping ceilings and wood, so much wood, huge terrace with a view of the plaza, just space everywhere. I’ve spent wonderful hours just lying on my bed and thinking, overthinking, realising, cogitating. It was perfect for the time it was mine. It nurtured my poetry and song and art. It’s still mine for a few more weeks.

Last week’s full Strawberry Moon, Digital Photograph, © N. Nazir, 2020

I’ll be leaving soon. I’ll be sad but glad to go. It’s been great but it’s time to move on. How many countless times have I been here in my life, another chapter finished. Part of me even enjoys leaving. The casting off, the removal of dead leaves, the pruning, the breath of new shoots, the excitement of it. The world suffers but brings fresh hope. I want to be part of its hopeful future.

Zoomed-in view of the back of Santa Maria Church from my kitchen window, Digital Photograph © N. Nazir, 2020
Santa Maria Church (a tiny stroll away), Digital Photograph © N. Nazir, 2020

© N Nazir 2020

On the Necessity of Art, Part IV: Off the Wall

Having resided in Bristol for the past year, I’ve had the good fortune to stumble across some stunning graffiti art, both incidental, famous and transient.  An art form I’ve never got involved with myself, I can’t help but admire the sheer artistry and accuracy of detail and proportion achieved in these works.  When I think of graffiti art, I see it as a rebellious art form, an act of marking one’s territory, making a political statement, working undercover.  The artist doesn’t seek permission, they demand their platform of expression and just take it.  (Although these days, graffiti art is revered because of pioneers like Banksy who gave this genre more kudos, hence it is now highly sought after and deemed uber-cool).  What amazes me is some of the hard to reach areas chosen for painting, totally out of the way spots – how on earth did they get up there, I always think.

It’s worth getting a record of some of these paintings because, especially when the annual Upfest Graffiti festival takes place, the wonderful artworks that grace the designated wall spaces are painted over with a new brilliant work (particularly in Southville, Bedminster and Stokes Croft).  Below are some photos I took of the better known graffiti art around Bristol, some of which now lie beneath a new painting.

Looking forward to the next Upfest…


Breakdancing Jesus
Stokes Croft
Cosmo Sarson


The Mild Mild West
Stokes Croft


Queen of Neon
Dan Kitchener
Upfest 2015


Stokes Croft


You Were My Sunshine

…now painted over with this…


Title not known by me but a nod to Alice in Wonderland
Martin Ron & Jiant
North Street, Southville
Upfest 2015


Title Unknown
My Dog Sighs
North Street, Southville
Upfest 2015


I Belong in the Jungle Not Your Cage
Louis Masai Michel
North Street, Southville
Upfest 2015


Unknown Artist
Central Bristol


Unknown Artist
Stokes Croft


Unknown Artist
North Street, Bedminster
Upfest 2015


Unknown Artist
North Street, Bedminster
Upfest 2015


Neon Nights
North Street, Bedminster
Dale Grimshaw & Dan Kitchener
Upfest 2014

…now painted over with this…


North Street, Bedminster
Upfest 2015

© N Nazir 2016

I trust because…

just because
there exists this mysterious thing called love
that melts the iciest grudge into a lake of forgiveness.
Sometimes you know things and you don’t know how you know
you just know.
The other day scientists made a blind woman see again.
No one can explain how we came to be here,
people expound theories but no one really knows
mystery is rife and history is our checking-in system
and we are still here, suffering though we are.
Beauty, hope, passion and art still make the world go round
so I trust because
just because.

© N Nazir 2016

On Being a Mother

Mother and Child (Central Bristol), Digital Photograph, El Mac, 2015

It seems there is a wave of pregnancies and births at the moment. Perhaps it’s a leap year thing.  It always seems to happen in cycles.  I like kids but I feel somewhat removed from this phenomenon, and it never awakens within me the instinct to have a child myself.  I used to think it was something I wanted but I realised that it was societal expectation that made me feel this way, not an innermost desire.

When I really think about it, I’ve never had the instinct to have my own child, not deep down.  I always thought I might eventually but I’m glad I haven’t and I still don’t.  I understand that, for couples, having a child is the ultimate gesture to express an extension of their love, though sometimes it comes as an unplanned surprise.  And then this being or beings become the next generation of their family tree, who they can pass their talents, knowledge and legacies onto.  I get that.  I think it’s lovely.  But I feel I can do this just as much in my role as teacher, friend, lover, psychic, artist, writer, traveller, with anyone I bond with in my life, child or not.  Also, I look at the straining overpopulation of the planet and I think, let’s just do away with this pressure of having kids when there’s so much else to worry about.

I never “get broody” over children, I find them endearing and fun to be around but that’s it.  My lust for life doesn’t include being a biological mother.  I’m happy enough being the crazy aunt.  Being a parent requires endless selflessness and I feel more inclined to be selfless towards the world at large then specific humans that happen to be my offspring.  Being a some-time teacher satisfies any need I have to enjoy the company of kids and then I can go back to my million creative pursuits.

And the thing is, I spend so much time mothering people in my life as it is that I already satisfy any need to be a mother spiritually.  (I don’t think this is limited to just women; there are plenty of men who are good at mothering others).

Having said this (total sidetone diversion) I do get very “broody” over animals, reptiles in particular.  Having volunteered part-time for a popular reptile company this past year, I have learned a great deal about a variety of species, snakes and lizards in the main, and I am surprised at how passionately protective I feel of them, even right down to the stick insects.  I’ve always loved snakes.  I am by no means an expert.  It’s only in the past year that I got to learn about them, how to handle and care for them, all the different genus’, their individual characteristics, etc.  I work with two incredibly talented reptile specialists who are a mine of information and never cease to impress me with their skills.  I just love animals.  So, no kids but a menagerie of animals will do me just fine.  I prefer them to humans to be honest.  I like humans, I just don’t want to make one.

I’ve decided that if I ever have the urge to have a child later on at a time when it’s not biologically feasible, then I’ll look to adopt.  There are plenty of children out there who are missing a mother, so I would prefer to take this avenue.  The child doesn’t have to be borne of my flesh for me to be its mother.

And like Einstein, I am so passionately curious about the universe and my potential as a human or superhuman, that this adventure is all-consuming  and wonderful enough.  And I just want to keep fulfilling it.

© N Nazir 2016

No. 13 Baby

I love the conversation between the bass and the guitar in this song.  The bass says, listen to me, I’m the voice of reason, I’m talking sense.  And the guitar says, you don’t know what you’re talking about, this is what I’m talking about.  And the bass replies, I hear what you’re saying but my way is still better, you need to be calm and steady like me.  And the guitar replies, NO, listen to this, I’m going to make your heart sing.  And the bass tries to argue but the guitar drowns it out and bellows fuck you, you’re wrong, I’ll make everyone listen to me and rebels and plays a heartaching riff and the bass is moved but pretends it isn’t and says fair enough, I get your point but you still need me.  But the guitar doesn’t listen and plays its relentless heartaching riff that goes on and on and off into the space-time continuum and the bass gives in and has no more words because the guitar has won.

© N Nazir 2016