Review | Monday 14 December 2009
Seville in the year 1616 is a place of betrayal and torture, with the spying eyes of the Inquisition everywhere. Moorish settlers are banished from Spain and their traumatised children are locked away in monasteries for religious conversion with even the most penitent locals conducting their true lives in secret. Paula Sanchez is a concubine famed for her beauty who does her best to avoid the attentions of her lecherous benefactor Bishop Rizi in order to sit as Mary for the ‘The Penitent Magdalen’. In the evenings she escapes the heat and uncertainty of her earthy existence and conflicting morality with the Ladder Man: a mute, almost-ethereal being who never sets foot upon the ground, preferring instead the rooftops of Seville. Young apprentice painter Diego Velasquez wanders freely about the city and watches over the progress of the painting and Paula’s involvement within it.
Muirden’s uniquely poetic writing reveals the strands of spirituality, longing and love emerging from behind the brush strokes and creates a hot, bustling city that emanates divine fantasy and escape.