At a time of division, wise words from Nelson Mandela

“I am fundamentally an optimist.   Whether that comes from nature or nurture, I cannot say.   Part of being an optimist is keeping one’s head pointed towards the sun, one’s feet moving forward.     There were many moments when my faith in humanity was surely tested, but I would not and could not give myself up to despair.    That way lays defeat and death.”    Nelson Mandela – Long Walk to Freedom’

Portuguese woman – 201620-11-15 - 1 (199)As a portrait painter, I have been fortunate enough to work with people of all ages, nationality, faith and gender from around the world.

Quentin – Brittany, France – 1995P1150314

What I have learned is that we are intrinsically the same.    We have the same needs, hopes  and fears.

Young girl – Mission Hill School – Boston – 2013


When we look at life only through the lens of different cultures we tend to see the surface.    However, when we get past the veneer, we are able to learn and gain so much from different customs and ways of doing things…….and in doing this we also learn about our similarities.

Zebedee – Crickhowell, Wales – 1995

1077572_10151794329765396_713720459_oI wrote a blog recently about my childhood in England after WWII – when the powers that be were beginning to integrate the young people of Europe with the hope that it would prevent more terrible wars.       It was a time of hope and of bringing people together from many different cultures.

Peter James Redmond – USA – 2012

192175_10151147549835396_728758025_o Today we are seeing the UK and Europe suddenly divided – something that did not have to happen.     I personally feel that the British public have been made pawns in a political poker game, regardless of how they chose to vote.       

Akyaka, Turkey  – 2008


I am very clear that nothing is perfect and that throughout our world today there is much misery, hardship and danger  – and yet I am also clear that there are times in history when humankind has stepped backwards….and I fear that we in the UK have just taken such a step.

However, I will continue to hold onto my belief that the creative process in all its many forms, which in essence is all about communication….is one of the key elements which can lead us towards emotional, physically and spiritually wellbeing, regardless of our social identity.

Margarida – Portugal – 2016

20-11-15 - 1 (93)

And so I for one will keep heading towards the sun, keep moving forward…..and like a magical hummingbird endeavour through my work to soar above all the madness:)

976253_10151660779970396_1579837650_o-2 no sig


A bientôt


66 thoughts on “At a time of division, wise words from Nelson Mandela

  1. Jayanthi

    Thank you for your wise words and the wonderful portraits, Janet. Jane Austen is quintessentially English, yet her carefully observed characters and personalities can be seen anywhere in the world – I have certainly seen them in different parts of the world. Hope matters start calming down soon. Take care and hope you have a super weekend. Love, Jayanthi

  2. Bushka

    Absolutely superb post… can ‘feel’ the passion, sensitivity and poignancy…eloquently illustrated in your inimitable style.
    So True……. “Today we are seeing the UK and Europe suddenly divided – something that did not have to happen. I personally feel that the British public have been made pawns in a political poker game, regardless of how they chose to vote.”
    Deserves universal attention….Praying for our Country!!!! Hummingbird Hugs! ❤

    1. janetweightreed10 Post author

      Good morning dear Buska… are so right in saying that what has happened does deserve universal attention and yes we need to pray for our Country! To witness the ‘school boy antics’ in our Government is shocking!…To think that people who are steeped in self interest, and whose lives will probably not change too much, have completely divided this country and caused so much upheaval and distress, is appalling.
      Here’s to the magical hummingbirds….Janet:)xx

  3. memadtwo

    The world is already connected, as your art shows so beautifully. We can try to retreat from it, but that mythical problem-free world will never return. Hopefully our leaders will wake up…(K)

  4. Gareth Rees

    Thank you Janet, I needed to read that quote from Nelson Mandela. I have been feeling so powerless after the EU Referendum result. Who better than Nelson Mandela to remind us that patience and perseverance (and dare I say it – forgiveness) can see us through no matter how hopeless the situation appears.
    And what beautiful portraits – every one of those faces tells a story from Quentin in Brittany and the young girl in Boston, to the Portuguese lady and Zebedee from my home town Crickhowell.. We must hope that the young like Quentin find greater wisdom than the old who seem intent on destroying our World.

    1. janetweightreed10 Post author

      Good morning, Gareth….I understand completely what you mean about feeling powerless. At such times, we need to look towards the likes of Mandela to remind us that even in the darkest moments, there is always hope for new change…something we much now grab onto. I feel so sad for the young people of Britain and the greater world. Those young people who have grown up as part of the Union, now find it taken away from them. Division of a huge scale has been caused….all because of political egos!
      As I know you do, I look forward to continuing our relationships with our friends in Europe despite the madness of government. Janet.

  5. Teagan Geneviene

    Dear Janet, thank you for sharing this wonderful portrait collection to make your point about *communication* — well done.
    Your watercolor portraits always amaze me and these are no exception. I love the first one where your extraordinary gift let you clearly depict a hat with the barest of hints! Then the level of detail you achieved with Zebedee is so beautiful. Then you finished it with one of the most lovely hummingbirds yet — looking upward. Kudos my friend. Have a thriving Thursday. Mega hugs.

    1. janetweightreed10 Post author

      Good morning dear Teagan….thank you so much for this lovely comment. Communication is always key….whether between two people or two countries…..Following the wise words of Mandela…I walk towards the sun this day:) Wishing you a very creative weekend. Janet. xx

  6. Writing to Freedom

    Wonderful post Janet. I love how you wove your beautiful portraits together with bits of wisdom reminding us that fundamentally we are connected. May we learn to appreciate both the diversity and the universals as we dance the journey of life….

  7. atkokosplace

    I love your closing line…”And so I for one will keep heading towards the sun, keep moving forward…..and like a magical hummingbird endeavor through my work to soar above all the madness:)” and I agree…this is what I will do too! Beautiful artwork. So talented you are!

    1. janetweightreed10 Post author

      Thank you so much and yes, I am reminded at this time, how fortunate we artists are – to have a place within our work where we can escape the madness. Wishing you a beautiful weekend. Janet:)

  8. snowbird

    This is beautifully written and your astonishing portraits demonstrate that we are one world and one race, human. I loved your positivity, yes, we must all move on and look towards the

    1. janetweightreed10 Post author

      Good morning, Dina….In my mind, I have one choice and that is to move forward into the ‘light’ – I thank goodness that we as artists have our work to escape into….and also work that can bring some light into this rather baffled world. Wishing you and the furies a lovely weekend. Janet:)xx

  9. kathryningrid

    I couldn’t agree more. You can only imagine how horrified I am that the US seems bent on going further yet than Britain in this terrible direction. What lies ahead? The only hope, perhaps, is in the hearts, words, and deeds of those like you who see beyond the fences and walls, behind the masks, and to a humanely united humanity. May we all be so lifted!
    Much love,

    1. janetweightreed10 Post author

      Good morning dear Kathryn, Thank you for this beautiful comment. Sadly, our leaving the EC has brought out all the extreme right wingers in the world in favour of it – which sort of says it all. We have been watching your political situation very closely, not realising that we in Britain would be up to our necks in chaos ourselves.
      What lies ahead…none of us know, however, the hope is that there are millions of people around the world who feel the way we do…..Who are not driven by ego and self serving political gain and who more than anything, seek the truth, and will not tolerate being lied to.
      And so my dear friend, we move towards the sun…..Keep making beautiful music. Janet. xxx

    1. janetweightreed10 Post author

      Good morning, Carol Thank you so much. During the eight years of writing this blog, I have rarely written about politics….however, in this instance, I have to say my piece…
      Wishing you a lovely and creative weekend. At last I have some time this weekend to visit other people’s blogs:) Janet. x

  10. olganm

    Beautiful post and I couldn’t agree more. Personally, as a Spanish woman who has lived in the UK for 24 years I feel very disappointed. But perhaps it’s time for me to move on and I hope everything works out for the best. Thanks for the hummingbirds. They are needed more than ever. ♥

    1. janetweightreed10 Post author

      Good morning Olga….I am so sad and so very disappointed, and fear that Britain will lose so many important resources because of this, not the least of which are human resources. Thanks for the comment and yes here’s to the magical hummingbirds. Janet. x

  11. Katherine

    I was glad to see this after enduring the wrangling and hearing of the racist remarks and graffiti.And Gove and Johnson… it is really so appalling.I hope someone completely different will be the leader.They will have to be very brave.Who would have believed this a year ago? But I know something has beeen simmering since the riots in 2011.They did not heed people’s dissatisfaction and that the poorer people were getting badly treated.
    Alas,things may get worse for them.Revolutions can be dangerous.Despite this hope you have a good weekend with our strange weather… dash out when the sun shines and dash in again as the wind and rain return{ :)xxxxxx

  12. janetweightreed10 Post author

    Hi Dear Kathryn….I agree with all you say. The Likes of Boris Johnson and Gove should be ashamed of themselves….! To observe people with so much power squabbling like school boys is embarrassing and clearly very damaging . For the past seven years I have been writing to Number 10 on a regular basis – e mails and sometimes snail mail, primarily about care for the elderly, but also about the disconnect between big corporate business and the real world! I even sent Cameron a Magical Hummingbird card telling him that he desperately needed the magic:) I have also mentioned many times that people are not being listened to. If that isn’t bad enough, the lies that were told during the referendum will I know come back to haunt them…..On a better note,we have had some sunshine this weekend:) Hope you enjoyed yours….I had a good one, and am now ready for a busy week ahead. Thank you so much for your comment…sending love. Janet. xxx

      1. Mary

        My bucket list is to attend one of your classes – the spontaneity of it, let alone creativity and learning would be a memory to last a lifetime.

  13. coldhandswarmheartsblog

    I love your beatiful art and thoughts, you capture each person’s expressions so well and it is well matched to Mandela’ s sentiments flowing in his words. This is one of those quotes I shall be looking at often.

  14. Pingback: My Life as an Artist (2) | Smile! You’re at the best site ever | Mark Geoffrey Kirshner

  15. Timi Townsend

    Such lovely portraits and such a poignant and insightful post! I appreciate the way you strike a balance between calling out what you see as a step backwards (with which I agree) and calling for hope in our future. Brexit was something of a terrible omen for us liberals in the USA, because it is being likened to a possible (probable? I really *hope* not!) victory by Donald Trump in the upcoming Presidential election.

    1. janetweightreed10 Post author

      Thank you so much for your comment. It was an incredible shock to find that the majority had voted to leave Europe! My daughter lives in Cambridge, Mass….and said to me recently she is having nightmares that she will wake up after your election to find that Trump is the President. Just about everyone I know feels the same way….What a mess. We simply can’t give up….Janet:)

      1. Timi Townsend

        Yes, like your daughter, I do believe it would be a living nightmare for the whole world to have Donald Trump be the next American President. I just watched Hillary Clinton give her acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention tonight. What a wonderful leader she would make: I hope she gets the chance to prove it!

  16. tedgiffin

    The strength of Mandela, and all his associates, is that they chose forgiveness, compassion, and reconciliation than repeating the mistakes and brutality of those who had harmed them. That they understood, that if I am Free, then You are Free, that we all CAN BE LIBERATED. It is amazing to me that these people walked in such graceful strength and beauty. They walked it, not just talked it. We all can be quick as hummingbirds, so playful. Have a good weekend, Janet!

    1. janetweightreed10 Post author

      Good morning, Ted and thank you so much for this lovely comment. Mandela is an incredible example to us all of how a life can be lived when we rid ourselves of anger and resentment….an amazing person. Hope you enjoy a very creative weekend (I am sure you will) surrounded with magical hummers. Janet:)

  17. davidjrogersftw

    Thank you, Janet, for the profound, lovely, and moving post. I think of people like us, you and I, and your friends, and think that we will not lead nations or be heralded in the news. But we do our best to treat people kindly and respect them all, and we do our work, honest work, the best we can do. And sometimes–sometimes–it moves people. They sense that they are not alone–the world is beautiful to someone else too.

  18. Jet Eliot

    Oh Janet, this post is a work of art in so many ways. Thank you for the inspiring paintings, moving words, and Mandela’s words of wisdom. When we go through these trying times with love in our hearts and hope in our thoughts, we find others doing the same, and it does indeed help us keep moving forward and facing the sunshine. My best to you, dear friend~~

  19. Ka Malana -

    I love these portraits, Janet, as well as your aspiring words. I once visited Mandela’s jail cell in S. Africa on Robben Island. It gave me chills, and lifted my respect for his truth and reconciliation even more. What a gift to have all these people in your portrait collection. I love your energy. Also, recently my daughter and I had a hummingbird encounter which was significant and unique. It was sitting in the grass. We gave it healing Reiki energy and it wasn’t long before it was off and flying again with its mate, gleefully. Hummingbirds are definitely magical and make wonderful guides. My best wishes to you!

    1. janetweightreed10 Post author

      Thank you so much Ka for this lovely comment. What an experience it must have been to visit Mandela’s jail cell on Robben Island….Mandela taught the world so much and will continue to do so for those who are willing to listen and observe. For many years now I have painted people from around the world whose paths I have crossed. It’s been a wonderful experience one I plan to continue. I meet people when I make these painting in ways that I could never have done otherwise. People who might be a little nervous initially invariably open up to me. Language is no barrier….Like music painting is a universal language. As for the beautiful hummingbird, yes they are woderful guides and as you know for me they represent the ‘unseen’ energy in our world. Speaking of Reiki…a new centre has opened a four minute walk form my studio….If you ever come this way you might enjoy getting involved. Wishing you and your daughter a beautiful and peaceful day. Janet XX

  20. Robert Matthew Goldstein

    Reblogged this on Art by Rob Goldstein and commented:
    Great minds are always relevant:

    “I am fundamentally an optimist. Whether that comes from nature or nurture, I cannot say. Part of being an optimist is keeping one’s head pointed towards the sun, one’s feet moving forward. There were many moments when my faith in humanity was surely tested, but I would not and could not give myself up to despair. That way lays defeat and death.” Nelson Mandela – Long Walk to Freedom’

  21. Pingback: At a time of division, wise words from Nelson Mandela — My Life as an Artist (2) – How my heart sings

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