IN MEMORY OF:
JOSEPHINE POWELL – ETHNOGRAPHER, PHOTOGRAPHER AND KILIM SCHOLAR 1919-2007
EVA MONLEY – FILM PRODUCER 1924 – 2011
I had an email last week that an old friend Eva Monley had died in Nanyuki, Kenya of complications from a chest infection. Eva was 88 years old.
Five years ago another friend Josephine Powell died also at 87 years old from emphysema or COPD. The death of Eva has made me reflect on the loss of both these women from my life.
They never knew one another; lived and worked in different parts of the world; Josephine for a large portion of her life in Turkey and Central Asia and Eva often in Africa. Their shared characters imprinted on me when I first met them in my mid forties. Together they shaped my perception of who I am as a woman and what life holds for me as woman who holds life.
Eva was a film producer; Josephine an ethnographic photographer. Both women had backbones of iron, determination, fierce independence and a work ethic that would not end.
Early morning walks with Eva in Hyde Park in central London were our time to walk and talk as Eva was out early morning rain or shine enjoying the park. If I was in London I never wanted to miss a walk with Eva because it meant being fully engaged by a mind that was clear, focused and never still. Her memory was prodigious and life had brought her no end of experience, challenge and insight. She had loved fiercely and had a loyalty that was unwavering.
Eva’s flat was on the corner of Knightsbridge and Ovington Gardens looking towards the lighted outlines of Harrods – her ‘grocery store’. Valerie’s, a neighborhood bakery a few doors away from her flat was the source of her indulgence; croissants, but only the ones that were crisply browned.
Josephine on the other hand had a penchant for lemon meringue pie which I would pick up a piece (or two) for her en route to her flat in Cihangar, Istanbul. Our time together often were at her flat. Like Eva her work surfaces were stacked with piles of papers and images as she was never without several projects on the go at the same time. Josephine was strong minded, curious and
relentless when following a train of thought or developing a new idea.
Both women were recognized professionally in their fields with Eva receiving in 1988 the Lifetime Achievement award from the British Film Institute and Josephine receiving The George Hewitt Myers Award in 2006 in Washington D.C at the Textile Museum recognizing her exceptional contributions to the study and understanding of the textile arts. The honors were deserved but it was their lives that not only moved me but informed me about living fully.
Well, old friends, go well. I am deeply aware of the richness of my life that has been fed by both these women in attitude, deed and support.
Be it photography, kilims, film, LIFE these two women left their mark on me and I am grateful for our shared lives.