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Reliving those golden Deia Heydays with Oona Lind Napier and Jackie WaldrenAugust 17, 2018

Deia Heydays 1960-2000 is a recently published book that celebrates what its authors Oona Lind Napier and Jackie Waldren describe as ‘a Golden Age of art, poetry, prose and music’ in Deia. 

The book offers short, to the point, pen portraits of a whole host of artists, musicians and writers who lived and worked in Deia between 1960 and 2000, those Deia heydays. These are accompanied by photographs of them and, if they’re artists, examples of their work.

The book

Some, such as Daevid Allen, the writer Jakov Lind – Oona’s father – and Mati Klarwein are relatively well-known in the world outside Deia.  Other names will only be familiar to connoisseurs of the arts or people with a long-time connection to the village.

A short while ago, I spoke to Oona and Jackie about Deya Heydays and how the book came to be.

Incidentally, the ‘Jakov’s tower’ Oona mentions is the striking structure you’ll have probably noticed perched high above Cala Deia.

Oona, could you tell me your story of coming to Deia?

My father, Jakov Lind, arrived in Deia in 1967. He followed his girlfriend here. She was the painter Annie Truxell. Annie first came to the village because of her friendship with the poet Robert Lowell.

Annie will always be my favourite artist. She combined a mixture of fantasy, surrealism, humour and technique which has never failed to fascinate me.

I first came when I was seven years old. Growing up in dreary north-west London and going to a depressing school every day, the wonderful reward of a summer holiday in Deia was something I looked forward to no end, as you can probably imagine. It was a dreamy, colourful and warm world away from the reality of boring, damp London.

I was left to run around free and happy. I had all sorts of friends my age. It was a wonderful time to grow up. The little calas along the coast were free of people. We could walk to places like Llucalcari, swim and shower under the fountain there.

Can you remember what life was like here for your father and his friends?

The days of old in Deia at Jakov’s tower were idyllic. My Father had a knack for making parties.  He would buy a whole sheep and have Bill Waldren, Jackie’s husband, come over and do the roasting. Then he would invite the whole village, and everyone would bring something to drink and plates of food.

There was always live music, people playing guitars, drums, singing, dancing. Of course, the advantage was the location because the tower was at the top of Cala Deia, with the sea and the sound of the waves right down below. There was no one around apart from the fishermen across the way.

The revels of us foreigners definitely played a part in the way the locals integrated with incomers.  Eventually we would all belong to the same community and intermingle, having children and becoming friends for life.

How about you, Jackie?

I came to the village for the first time in 1959. It was so exciting for a 21-year-old recent college graduate to discover the world of Deia and all its diverse characters and cultures. I felt immersed in experiences I’d never even imagined before. I had what some might call an epiphany. I was overcome by the beauty and exuberance of nature, the dynamic personalities of the artists and their wildly stimulating company.

I met Bill Waldren, who swept me off my feet. He went on to share his life history, ambitions, hopes, dreams and frustrations with me and made me feel like a wise woman.

The ethos of Deia will always flow around Robert Graves’s mystic works and poetry, musicians’ sounds and vibrations, writers’ many forms and artists (struggling to succeed or masters of their crafts).

And Deia Heydays, Oona?

So, when my father died on 13 February 2007, I realised that if we don’t do something to celebrate the great artists that have lived in Deia, their memory will die. There’ll be nothing to perpetuate their existence, no information to pass on to the people who now live in this village and to future generations who’ll come and make their homes here. I realised it was up to me. But I couldn’t do it on my own.

I immediately thought of Jackie. I was sure her connection to Deia, knowledge of the village and friendship with the families who live here would be a huge help. Jackie’s also written a great book about the village – Insiders and Outsiders – as you know. Luckily, Jackie said yes.

Why did you say yes, Jackie?

 I knew it was a story that had to be told. It was an amazingly creative, productive exciting time for a generation of men and women who had just come out of WW2 and were seeking new horizons, free expression and community and who were challenging the previous generation’s values.

The current book is a second edition, right, Oona?

Yes. We produced a Deia Heydays festival in 2008, a multimedia event featuring all the artists, writers, poets and musicians from the period 1960 to 1980. There were artworks, photos, film footage and readings.  It was hugely successful and attracted an enormous crowd from all over the island. We attempted to show one example of the work of each of the artists who had come and gone from Deia. We didn’t succeed completely but we at least amassed an amazing amount of information and memories.

We realised then that we’d have to do a catalogue of some kind and so we edited it all together into the first Deia Heydays book, a beautiful orange thing with biographies and photos of the artists and a piece of their work.

The book sold out. But there were many errors, a lot of people missing and plenty of typos, so it made sense to republish and, this time, to add the new generation of artists that had arrived in the 80s.

With this second book, Belmond La Residencia was kind enough to put some money into printing. They’ve always strived to keep involved in the artistic life of this village and this is a wonderful thing.

Peeking inside

Is it possible to identify a Deia attitude in the work of the artists, writers and musicians, Jackie?

It would be reductionist to try to pull the various approaches together using common threads. I think they all probably shared a sense of freedom, which meant peeling away surfaces to get to one’s inner visions, sounds and feelings, regardless of the views of others.

Do you think people are increasingly interested in the cultural legacy of Deia?

The first book was extremely well received and the new one is selling out rapidly. The ethos of Deia will always flow around Robert Graves’s mystic works and poetry, musicians’ sounds and vibrations, writers’ many forms and artists (struggling to succeed or masters of their crafts).

How do you feel about the village now?

Jackie: Development is overwhelming the landscape and young creative people can no longer find accommodation in this dining, shining, luxury village. However, beneath the commercialisation and glitter there’s a deep history reflected in the local population, landmarks, nature, museums, expats and ever-changing politics that one hopes will keep feeding, protecting and advancing the cultural productivity of the village.

Oona: Things have changed so much since those days. Property prices have risen through the roof, no artists can afford to live here anymore, the town has become a millionaires’ playground. But the coast is still one of the most beautiful in the world, the mountains and views are still spectacular and there’s still a core group of old timers who make being here worthwhile.

And the current cultural life of the village, Jackie?

If quantity and production is indicative of cultural life, I guess one would say it’s thriving. There’s no space on the multiple bulletin boards, garage doors and bank windows for all the announcements of concerts, exhibitions, classes, treatments and diverse retreats. There are more activities than one can possibly take in. The nostalgia for the past is keeping the present fuelled, and we hope some miracle of conscience leads us into a future that has not been swallowed up by over-development but rather to an environmentally, sustainable, reciprocal community of caring residents and visitors.

What are your hopes for the future, Oona?

 The next step in this metamorphosis will be to work towards a real Cultural Centre for this town, a place for people to visit and learn the history of the Deia artists. This would also be a place to see performances, poetry readings, and find out about new Deia artists. Finding funding is the challenge so I’m looking for support and help.

Jackie and Oona

You’ve organised events at Can Quet and Belmond La Residencia to celebrate the new edition of Deia Heydays. What will these involve, Oona?

We’ll show people a little taste of the past, some photo montages and family film footage of the good old days will be shown. There will be a Q&A session, but we’ll keep things as informal as possible, in the true spirit of Deia.


I’ll be talking to Oona and Jackie about Deia Heydays, the book and the era, on Saturday 18 August at 7.30 pm at Restaurante Can Quet in Deia, where you’ll also be able to buy a copy of the book.

There will also be an event at Belmond La Residencia at 7pm on 21 August where the hotel’s weekly cocktail party will incorporate a celebration of the book.

I do recommend you pick up a copy of Deia Heydays. Like me, you might know some of the people in the book and enjoy imagining what the people you don’t know might have been like. If you have no idea who any of the people are, it doesn’t matter. The snapshots of their lives make fascinating reading and offer a real insight into Deia.

To find out more about the background to the book and watch film footage from those remarkable times, go here.

 

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