Wednesday 2 December 2009

Life Goes On for life as an Artist and Mother

I suppose that is the theme of my work. That Life Goes On. Here is Steve well and happy. The photo is not very good, and when my photographer comes back with the good photo I shall put it up on the blog. Steve wears his blue slippers here, which appear in three other paintings. I wonder what happened to them. The writing at the top of this painting says "I am not going anywhere" which is what he kept saying. Sad, because he did go somewhere. Where exactly, would take a whole lifetime of discussion.

Today I want to say that sometimes, the oddest things make us sit up and take stock of ourselves. Here I am, having had the experience of loving a good man, and taking the journey to the end of his life with him. There I stopped, and he went on. There was never a cross word between us, and he posed happily for the photos I took of him as he declined. Further along the line, I have painted a whole exhibition of powerful and raw images of him as he was at the end of his life. All the time I was painting, I felt keenly aware that I was still living, and what was this thing called death that had happened to Steve? It was as if every time I started a new painting, I tried to get closer to an answer. I don't think this will ever happen, but I needed to try.

When I took the paintings to the Hospices, when I took them to other significant people, when those in religious organisations saw them, I was surprised at their reactions. It seemed that these paintings were a spring board for a discussion on how we die and what we all as a society do about it. Visitors to my studio ask to see the works and instead of being horrified, said Oh, That Happened To Me Too. Even a newspaper photographer who took some photos said That Was Like My Grandfather. It seems we all carry around an experience inside, of the loss of someone close. I get so many requests to see the paintings, even in my studio.

So I began to raise money for the Hospices through my publicity about the A Graceful Death Exhibition. Cheques come in here, and I send them off. I am asked about the two Hospices that I was working with, and I am glad to give as much information as possible. I have made some good contacts at St Barnabas House and St Wilfrids. We all understood the power of the paintings and the fact that they could touch so many who needed to talk and tell us their story.

The Quakers too were full of understanding; they have a sound and realistic attitude to death and dying and were pleased to offer their Meeting House to host what was, and is, an important exhibition. I have alerted hundreds of people, there are so many coming, that I am sure there is much to talk about here - why are they coming and what will they say? It will be a kind exhibition, and if people become upset about their own stories, then we can understand and give them a cup of tea and take time with them.

Finally, though the exhibition venue has changed, and email me if you would like to come on , I am ready for the paintings to be seen. They are being hung right now, and there is a rota of assistants to welcome in the visitors. I will be in charge of tea, because we all know that I love my tea. My friends, my family, my clients, those who have shown an interest in the subject of How We Die, all of these people will come and some will love the experience, some will not. And so we come back to the oddest things that make us sit up and take notice. I am back in control of my exhibition. Not everyone will like what I do, even apart from this A Graceful Death. There is a kind of relief that I am back in control, it is really time to move on.

Dancing Steve Out Of Life

Email me if you are interested in coming to the exhibition on and I will send you details.

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