Shortly after I turned 30, I meet Jovan. He turned 8 that year. We met at the flat of our friend Charlotte. We were there to celebrate my farewell from Antwerp. It was the first time that I met him.
The best way to make new friends is to solve a riddle together.Jovan and I found a tangram in charlotte’s flat; a puzzle consisting of seven wooden shapes, called tans, which once put together can form silhouette shapes of different things.
While trying to form the cat (or the fox, as I called it that day), we decided to be friends.
My friends and I decided to celebrate with a fairytale dinner, where each guest was asked to prepare a dish from a children’s story. Mieke prepared porridge inspired by The Three Bears (of course in three different sized bowls), Hadas prepared some tasty beans from The Little House on the Prairie. I made some fake poisonous mushrooms along with plenty of other dishes. To compliment the dinner, we played old records of children songs, sung by the great Ella Jenkins.
My friend Charlotte prepared a dish from the book Danny the Champion of the World, by Roald Dahl.
“… I was about your age then, maybe a little older, and in those days we always had a hot tea in the kitchen at five o`clock. I can remember exactly what was on the table that evening. It was my favorite thing of all, toad-in-the-hole, and my mum could make toad-in-the-hole like nobody else in the world… “ Roald Dahl´s Danny the Champion of the World
Toad in the Hole
For the Toad:
8 sausages of your choice
2 onions : fried
garlic : fried
2 knobs of butter
6 tblsp balsamico
For the Hole:
285 ml milk
115 gr plain flour
a pinch of salt
Put a baking tray in the middle of the oven with a one centimetre layer of oil 240° Celsius when the oil is hot add the sausages and let them fry a little bit. Then put the HOLE over (including rosemary and fried garlic & onions), it will sizzle dangerously. Don’t open the oven for at least 20 minutes. Eat with onion gravy,
Jovans’ favourites were the forest berries from The Moomins and porridge from The Three Bears. That evening, he and I spoke about photography and he told me that he liked to take pictures. That evening he borrowed Mieke’s camera. He took a picture of me and it became one of my favourite portraits.
I wrote an email to Jovan’s mother, asking if Jovan could look at my work. Two weeks later I received his reply:
I was really wondering how did you made these pictures.
Because they don't look so real.
They look very impossible.
And very interesting.
I find them interesting because they don't show just a normal picture, but it is like imagination.
Sometimes they are a little bit like a drawing, and they can be very funny. Like the skeleton who is sitting on the chair!
I don't like when there are naked people.
Some pictures look very strange because they are very unreal and they make me feel like I am on carnival.
I see a lot of light and shadows in your pictures.
Sometimes they are scary.
I was also wondering what is that turtle doing on the head of that man?
There are things in your pictures, in the things in your picture.
see you next time.
Zmaj Jovan TatiĆ
“There are things in your pictures, in the things in your picture.”
As a farewell gift, my dear friend Hadas gave me a small notebook filled with little secrets and wishes. On the first page was a handwritten message:
“at last winter is finished
and, from the ground
where the seed has dropped
a vertical green shoots
grow. It is a tree, but
so small no one recognize