Index of Posts: Slices of Shona's Life
Memories of Shona

From Montserrat Cabré

For Shona from I Tatti

Shona was my first experience of the I Tatti community, much earlier than I could join it personally, and I now have to face that, as myriad creative possibilities grow through I Tatti, I will not be able to develop Shona’s friendship further. Our very first contact was because of I Tatti but it took place before either of us had arrived here.

We had close intellectual concerns: I admired her work and she was interested in mine.  So it was out of the blue, last summer, when she wrote to me to share her happiness when she learnt that we would be ‘fellow fellows’. It was her passion and determination that created the space for our exchange. I sent her my current project, and she wrote back with enthusiasm and suggestions.

I treasure all the memories I have of her but there is one I feel most compelled to celebrate. During our April field trip, I remember her insistence upon showing us Bettina d’Andrea’s grave at San Antonio di Padova, and how Shona looked at me as she proposed the visit, asking with her eyes for my complicity and reassurance. Of course, we went there. How to resist her?

I was so touched to see in this memorial two pictures of Shona proudly standing at Bettina’s grave. Because I think she was then doing something it was very much her. After seeing all those magnificent works of art, I believe what Shona was passionately doing at an obscure woman’s grave was pointing us to the importance of embracing supposedly marginal, inexplicable traces that sculpt history and human life. And I think this is at the heart of my sorrow, for the way her death has affected me has not to do with the amount of time I spent with her nor with the obvious affinities we had but with something she gave me that is more precious, and frightening, because it lacks explanation and measure.

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