Do you have a dream? Most people do. Some believe it is too late to live their dreams and give up. Others hold them in their hearts, safe in the knowledge that it is never too late, so they must not give up, but instead take small steps and make their dream happen. Sometimes, a dream or desire is so deeply buried that it can take a long time for the dream to be dug out or resurface. It is never too late to start digging or to try something new.
Today, I want to share with you the story of Martha Grunenwaldt. I was lucky enough to visit Martha in the home where she lived with her daughter and family in Belgium whilst pursuing one of my very own dreams… touring France and beyond in a VW campervan, meeting many amazing and visionary artists en route and talking with them about their work. I hope you will enjoy Martha’s story story. It is enough to inspire anyone who thinks it may be too late to follow their heart.
Art and music, so often, go hand in hand. The painter Alan Davie, whose work I have long admired, was also a professional jazz musician and there is something very musical about his art. Martha Grunenwaldt (b.1910) learned the violin as a child and played popular tunes with her father at village dances. She did not attend school regularly.
Martha worked in factories and in 1933 she married a musician and gave birth to a daughter, Josine, soon after. She separated from her husband four years into their marriage and began a wandering life, taking her daughter Josine with her as she played violin at tables outside cafés. In 1940, her husband took back their daughter and Martha went to work as a servant on a chateau-farm. Here, there were strict rules and she was forbidden to play her beloved violin.
Martha was later reunited with her daughter and went to live with Josine in Mouscron, Belgium in 1968, but it was not until 1981 that she picked up her grandchildren’s colouring pencils and began to draw a brightly-coloured world the back of poster. A female figure was at the centre of the work, a violinist, birds, plants, buildings and flowers surrounding her. This was just the beginning of what was soon to become a regular pastime for Martha.
Josine was politically active and the backs of the posters she brought back from elections were perfect for her mother to use as a medium on which to create her visions of an ideal world. It was as though all of the creative energy that had been stored up during a childhood in which she was denied simple pleasures and whilst away from her violin on the farm, had been lying in wait and burst forth in her art. Five years after creating her first picture, Martha had her first exhibition at a small pub frequented by her daughter’s family. As her work evolved, interest grew and in 1991, the Musée de la Création Franche in Bègles, France, held a show of Martha’s work.
Martha Grunenwaldt became a prolific artist, filling the days of her later life with music and art. Her colourful paintings are now held in collections throughout the world and her art has been included in many exhibitions from London to Lausanne and beyond. She took great pleasure in both drawing and playing her violin well into old age.
It is my belief that having a passion and a purpose helps us live longer, happier lives. Martha Grünenwaldt died in 2008. She was 98 years old.
Do you have a dream? What have you always wanted to do? What would you pursue if you knew you couldn’t fail? On July 5, Diane Leigh and I will be guiding, teaching and inspiring a small group of people who are ready to take their dreams seriously and begin taking action! You could be one of them. By the end of this workshop, you will have your dream defined and you will have taken the first steps to making your dream a reality. You will have connected with other dreamers and be surrounded by a supportive team who want to see you do this! Are you ready? If so, just click here and grab your ticket at an early bird price.