Thursday 28 October 2010

Dublin AGD A Spiritual, Emotional And Physical Journey for my website  for my other website for an account of an Artist and Mother in Bognor Regis

A Graceful Death Exhibition in Dublin.  Emotional, Spiritual and Important

Steve over the fire, and me on the easle.  This is the main room where the A Graceful Death paintings were shown.  Visitors were welcomed into the house, and guided to this room and when they were ready, left to wander at their ease and in their own time amongst the images and words.  When they were finished, they came through into the kitchen and had tea, cake, wine and the warmth of other people.

I am home from Dublin, having left the paintings stored in Dublin before they are taken to the next exhibition in Manchester in February 2011.  I am very tired and need to reflect on how the exhibition went, and what to do from here.  It is good to be home, it gives me the distance I need to think over the past 6 days in Ireland, and the experience of showing the paintings to a new audience in a new country.

It was a very profound few days.  To recap, my dear kind friends in Dublin offered to show the exhibition in their house.  They live in a large house they designed and had built themselves, in a leafy and quiet area of Dublin.  It was to be an invitation only exhibition.  My Dublin Friends had never done anything like this before, and were keen to make the exhibition and the experience work to the best of their abilities and to the A Graceful Death's benefit.  We opened on the Thursday, and packed up on the following Monday afternoon.  My Dublin Friends put their hearts and souls into making it work, and created one of the most successful exhibitions I have yet had.

My Hosts had worked tirelessly to contact the people they thought would appreciate an exhibition concerned with death and dying, of life and bereavement and love and hope and how we survive our losses.  They designed the invitations, they designed the brochures and they organised the wine, the teas, the cakes.  They contacted everyone that they could and followed up each call, they spent time and effort on making sure they covered all avenues to the people they thought needed to come and see the exhibition.  They even arranged, through a lovely PR friend of theirs, for a radio interview for me to speak about the exhibition to Alan Stanford on 4fm on the Saturday morning Culture Club programme.

The Jesus on the Tube exhibition was under the stairs, in this space.  This shows how light and peaceful the house is and how gentle the experience of visiting A Graceful Death was in this setting.

The exhibition worked so very well because most of those who came were expected.  We were extremely busy, and I found working as a team with my Dublin Hosts was absolutely wonderful.  We had put up three exhibitions. Alongside the A Graceful Death was a small display of Jesus on the Tubes, which went down very well.  And in the kitchen, there were displays of the Every Day Angels paintings that were light hearted and fun.  It was important to have something lively and colourful when coming out of experiencing the A Graceful Death paintings, and to sit in the kitchen having tea and cakes next to gentle,bright and every day Angels, because that is the time to talk and tell one's story.  In the safety and calm of the kitchen, crying can be a more comforting experience, with the gentle reassurance of every day life around you.  And people do need to talk after seeing the paintings.  Some need to cry, some need to be listened to, some need to say things that they could not say before.  The time to be with someone who cares is in the kitchen after the exhibition.  My Dublin hosts knew this and prepared tea, sat with their guests, offered wine, listened and welcomed everyone to their home.

 Jesus on the Tube under the Stairs.

My Dublin Friend has married a very good and kind man, and they were my Hosts.  My Dublin Friend has a remarkable Mother in Law, whom I want to mention here.  Mother in Law is a trained bereavement counsellor, and is well known for her kindness, insight and patience.  My Dublin Hosts live at the bottom of the Parents-in-Law's garden where they have built this gracious, light and spacious home.  So Dublin Friend's Mother in Law spent her time caring gently for people at the exhibition, and bringing down lunches and suppers for all of us in the house in her spare time, and generally being the most wonderful support.  It is worth mentioning that most of the people who came to the exhibition either knew or knew of Mother in Law, so well respected is she for her work and kindess.

The kitchen, where we sat amongst the Every Day Angels and ate amazing cake and drank tea, talking if we needed to, just thinking if that was what we wanted.  

The Angels sold well, and this is what is left of them on the pink wall.  Note the red and white spotty table cloth and the cake stand with cup cakes.  A work of art in itself.  

I met very good people.  I met members of the clergy.  Our first guest was a local priest, a very sensitive and kind man.  We had members from such organisations as the Bethany Bereavement Support Group, the Cancer Society, Local Hospices, the Irish Hospice Foundation, bereavement counsellors, doctors, nurses, a very likeable director of an Undertaking firm, members of the Glasnevin Trust, a lovely author and psychologist from the De Mello Institute who very kindly gave me a copy of his book which I am enjoying and appreciating greatly.

And I have the next lady to paint as a Survivor.  The most energetic and inspiring lady arrived at the exhibition, with a similar story to mine, though she was married for 20 years before she lost her husband.  She too is hoping to make a positive contribution to the world following her husband's death.  She is very much the Survivor, and I hope to goodness she lets me paint her.  We did speak of it, and she would make a wonderful picture.  There was too, another very inspirational lady who wrote a small book of poetry and diary entries and mixed media art work after her husband of 48 years died.  I was given this book which was heartfelt and wonderful and pognant to read, by the Bethany Bereavement Support Group (a very remarkable organisation, some of whom I was delighted to meet).  I have not yet asked this lady, but gosh, she would make a fantastic portrait of a Survivor too.  Two new paintings, if I get the go-ahead to paint them, for Manchester next February.

After this showing of A Graceful Death,  I absolutely realise that I can't do this alone any more.  I simply could not have done anything if it wasn't for my Dublin Hosts, and the effect of having them work with me and understand the whole reason for showing the paintings, makes me see I will always need this kind of input for the A Graceful Death exhibitions.  I can't do this alone.  Thinking back, I never have had to do it alone.  Clarissa de Wend Fenton did her utmost for the exhibition when she showed it in February in Wimbledon.  Eileen Rafferty, the photographer,  has recorded the images and helped out wherever she can.  I have had donations from many people for the AGD Fund to help with costs and expenses.  My cousin Maddy has always helped, and got her whole family to make my house into an exhibition space for the first showing ever, here, last year.  Alan Bedford has given me a strong arm to lean on when I needed nothing but strength.  So many others have, and do, help.  So many people make this a success.  And now, because of its growing success, I need help more than ever.  I absolutely need donations and sponsorship to cover the costs of maintaining, growing and producing A Graceful Death.  I need like minded people to help set this exhibition up in places where there is strength, undersanding, help, love, kindness and life, so that we can talk of our experiences of Death, and how it is to Go On, to Survive. This exhibition of A Graceful Death deals with how we approach Dying, and then - how we approach Living.  We who are left.  Email me if you can help on

There is so much to do. 

Sunshine on the Exhibition.

Thank You Dublin.

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