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Time To Pack Away Till Next Time
I am drawing to the end of the first A Graceful Death exhibitions. It has been two years of thought and work, and I am glad. I am glad that it has been shown and that there has been such a response to it. I am glad that I have been able to show what began as my story, and seems to be most other peoples' story too. It is also good that the paintings exist. I can't imagine how I would have coped if I had not done them. Or if I had not the gift of painting to use to work throughout this experience.
I am sad too, because there was some opposition to the show, which makes me think it is even more important to do it. Important though it is to hear and accept how some people may not like what this exhibition is about, the amount of support and encouragement I have received from all sorts of places is very heartening. Many professional groups in the palliative care and end of life initiatives are interested in using the exhibition. Bereavement training organisations are interested and interestingly enough, some churches have expressed a desire to use the exhibition during the training of ministers. The images are being shown in a theological college in the Midlands over Lent and Easter in 2010.
Here are some more comments from the exhibition that is just finishing now. It needs to be said that individual images out of the context of the exhibition as a whole just do not give the same feeling of peace and strength and power that walking around the exhibition when it is set up, can do. Each painting has a description and an explanation. There is much love and hope in A Graceful Death.
"Extremely moving, extremely honest. This show must be seen by many people. Death and cancer are with us. It's unpleasant and frightening but this series of paintings helps us deal with those emotions in a positive and wholly honest way."
"I think this exhbition is brave and courageous and I hope that it becomes the first step to many other projects which will raise awareness of issues surrounding end-of-life care. I admire you, Antonia, and all you do. Thank you!"
These kind comments come from two people who have lost a parent each within the last two years.
This has been an unusual journey. It has shown me that we want to have a conversation about dying. It has shown me that grief, bereavement and loss are part of our world and should be accepted and understood as normal by everyone, as naturally as marriage, birth, redundancy, as natural and acceptable as a birthday party, by us. I don't expect us all to understand the depth or pain involved, but to accept that it is normal, and to let it happen. Give it time, give it its rightful place as a part of every single person's life on this earth. And death itself, gosh. That takes so many forms. It leaves us, the living, with sometimes insurmountable problems with carrying on. This is where as a society, we need to know that this will happen, that we will either experience or witness others experience, profound grief and what seems to be, madness.
This "A Graceful Death " is coming to London in February. I will keep you informed of where and when. I hope to see you all there.