In April of this year I was invited by the Primate of the Armenian Church in the UK , Bishop Vahan Hovhanessian, to make a presentation to the community in London; the subject I chose to present on was “An Englishman in Armenian Lands”. The talk drew upon many photographs which I’d taken over the six visits I’d made to Armenia in the last three years. The audience for the presentation was people from the Armenian Diaspora in the UK with a few who were originally from the Republic of Armenia.
I was invited again to make a follow up presentation on August 26th and this time I chose the title of “Recognising the Spirit of Artsakh” – subtitled “A very personal perspective on the Life and People of Artsakh”. The words were carefully chosen. “Recognising” has meanings on two different levels – one in the political context of “recognising” Artsakh as a legitimate country with a right to have a voice on the world stage, but also to use the term in a more routine sense of being familiar, and knowing the characteristics of something when seen. Similarly, “Spirit” has significance on two levels, one as a religious symbol, and the other a more humanitarian angle illustrative of life, liveliness and soul.
I wanted it to be clear that this was a Personal Perspective and not a balanced, academic or journalistic endeavour finishing with a concluding position. This was about sharing an experience of life in Artsakh, together with the emotions that I had felt which was faithful and respectful to those who had offered friendship.
Many of the events from my last trip were central to the theme which I wanted to describe, including the 20th Anniversary of the Liberation of Shushi walk, the Walk to the Cemetery , the Military Parade, music festivals, celebrations, and a number of conversations I had had with men who had been taken hostage during the war. This, I hope, gave the audience a rounded flavour of many aspects of life in Artsakh, that I had seen, as well as many real life stories of people living here.
I sensed that there was some expectation that I would be showing pictures of the wonderful Artsakhian landscape as many of the audience had not visited – perhaps this should be the subject of my next presentation? Or perhaps they should visit and see it for themselves.
As I get ready to embark on my next trip to Artsakh for 3 weeks, I hope that it is as successful as last time, and look forward to seeing more of the Life and People of Artsakh…and to re-experience that very recognisable spirit.
Categories: Life and People Artsakh