Candombe by Diego Bianki
Introduced by Emma Balch
At home in Clyro (near Hay) we have a copy of this book, with a beautifully handwritten inscription by Diego Bianki. The book was a gift to Oliver from our former next-door neighbours in Buenos Aires and now great friends, Alfonso Morales Bustamante and Lilian Arena.
For the past 20 years Argentine artist, writer and publisher, Diego Bianki has lived between Buenos Aires and Colonia del Sacramento, small picturesque town on the other side of the River Plate.
When he is in Colonia, he joins the local ‘candombe’ musicians, playing the ‘chico’ and drawing and painting to beat of the drums. The tradition of candombe is a celebration of the culture of Afro-Uruguayans, whose ancestors were brought to Uruguay as slaves two hundred years ago.
The sounds of carnival season are familiar to me, having lived in Colonia for five months in 2013. Each evening, for a couple of hours, the rhythmic banging of the drums as troops of candombe musicians and dancers worked their way round the the cobbled streets.
The scenes in the book are familiar to me, having spent many hours with our two young boys, passing the hot summer days under the shade of the palms, or on the cool steps of the church watching the drummers and dancers.
Generously, Diego shares the whole book as pdf, so wherever you are, you can view the book in full here
. The illustrations and words (the book is bilingual – Spanish & English) give a fabulously vibrant feel for the spirit of candombe in Colonia.
It was a pleasure to meet Diego for the first time this past weekend, at a vernissage at Galeria Mar Dulce
in Buenos Aires (Diego second from the right in this photo).
I often look through the English-Spanish edition of Bianki’s book Candombe: Carnival Fever, the bright, striking images reminding me the sounds and sights of that little town.
Today though, I’m in Colonia, and I’m about to walk with my boys to the capilla, and step into this scene. It’s good to be back!
Diego Bianki is Creative Director at Pequeño Editor, winner of the 2015 Bologna Prize for Best Children’s Publisher (Central & South America category) at the Bologna Children’s Book Fair.
Some links (from You Tube) to candombe in Colonia:
Candombe for sale at ‘El Abrazo’ bookshop in Colonia.