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Cover of one of Irma Stern’s journals

Page 2 - This book has been given to me with the intention of keeping reviews of my work - I don’t really need a book for that purpose any longer - reviews should not concern me so much. This book should free me from everyday life - a free and happy playing about in the realm of colourful imagination - an enjoyable ball game with colours and thoughts. Irma Stern, 1919, Christmas.

Page 3 - A piece of the sun was stolen by the Blue One and brought down to the huts where beings live - who are perhaps called human. The Blue One stole gold from the sun and forged it into an anklet and into studs for the breast and nose. Page 4 - The people strive to draw the light to themselves. This yearning turns their limbs to wax.

Page 5 - And the people wept over their weakness - the precious gift of golden light was too strong for them it brought them to their knees - thus they hated the Blue One and nailed it to the Cross. Page 6 - And the sweet strains of freedom struck into the hearts of those imprisoned in the cage of convention - like moonbeams into the heart.

Page 7 - And caused a thousand suns to shine and trees were turned into large flowers. Page 8 - And love breaks all bonds and forms bridges of (precious?) colours.

Page 9 - And when she was alone she saw an abyss and fear and turmoil entered her soul. Page 10 - Then the soul draped herself in robes of mourning and died in the flood tide.

Page 11 - And God spoke to the people through a burning thornbush. Page 12 - For Art drinks all thy heart’s blood and lonely shalt though be - in Eternity - Amen

Page 13 - And glances build bridges - violins add the flowing colours of bliss - no force can destroy them - no space is too wide for them - and all the worlds subside - space resounds - Eternity Page 14 - Vice walks the streets.

Page 15 - In the grass I lie dreaming and the lake glitters before me. The red sun flashes. Snow glistens on the mountains. Four boats circle in the wind. The snake coils its way in circles - how hot the sun burns Page 16 - Vision 1915 - The girl and I - we played and gambolled and yet we were deeply sad. And suddenly - as if brought up from the bowels of the earth - masses of people were descending on us - she prostrated herself before them - writhing in fits - a poisonous breath enveloped me - O God - the Plague - they are plague stricken. I was turned to stone -

Page 17 - My brain cries out - flee - flee - Plague - Plague - the heads are swathed in rags - gigantic - the Pestilence is killing my brain - and then an implacable force - and I go with them, yet I wanted to flee Page 18 - 1915 Zoppot The sea roars rhythmically - I stand at the open window - the beach shines white - tremblingly white - the moon is up in the air - a moon swallowed by heavy clouds - and here and there stand trees - the wind blows the open world into my house -

Page 19 - A sound float floats on the wind - wisterias sway fragrantly against the wall - and a thousand light fluttering images carry me away from here -

Page 21 - For everything is but a relative truth - and all cause lies in the womb. Page 22 - thus Nature wills it.

Page 23/24 - And sad was the Ball as never before. 1920

Page 25/26 - And all the blood flowed into her grave. 24 Febr. 1920.

Page 28 - And everything goes on as before - as if nothing had happened!

Page 29 - And fled from burning Europe into the land of strong colours.

Page 31 - And was lonely - so totally without love. Page 32 - And lamented my bitterness to the wind and the moon and the deep sea.

Page 35 - And images grew and hope flourished and joy. Page 36 - And all the terror came from the burning land of sorrow.

Page 39 - And painted pictures with my heart’s blood. Page 40 - And gave them to the people and stood alone - and all laughed and slung mud at me.

Page 42 - And am alone and the future is dark.

Page 43 - Searching I roamed the world - to arrive at the origin - at beauty - at truth - away from the lies of everyday - and my longing was burning hot - then the darkness opened up and I stood at the source of the Beginning. - Paradise -

Page 45 - Umgaba Page 46 - Brown people - peace.

Page 47 - How strange it was - that I had a white skin - how strange it was that one should be covered by clothes how strange it was that I had gone away with a thousand cases - but without burdens - only with my longing - which had found a kind of home. Page 48 - And took all this manifold beauty with me to Europe - to the poor and sun starved people.

Page 49 - And they thanked me for it.

Page 51 - And the sea roared through my dreams - and my tears sank into the sea - blood red and hot. Page 52 - Things happen as they must. 1924

Irma Stern Journal