Wednesday, 28 March 2012

New Amended Opening Hours and Open Night at St James's

Due to events taking place inside the Church, these are the times that the exhibition will be opening

Thursday 29 March                   12.15pm – 5.00pm
Friday 30 March                       10am – 1pm & 2pm – 5pm
Saturday 31 March                  10am – 5pm
Sunday 1 April                           12.30 – approx 3pm
Monday 2 April                         10am – 1pm & 2pm – 5pm
Tuesday 3 April                        10am – 1pm & 2pm – 5pm
2pm – 4pm Poetry Workshop in exhibition space by Penny Hewlett, free, all welcome “Face to Face with Loss”
Wednesday 4 April                    10am – 1pm & 2pm – 5pm
Thursday 5 April                      10am – 5pm
Friday 6 April Good Friday    9am – 11.30 am to be confirmed
Saturday 7 April – 10am   5pm
Sunday 8 April Easter Day      12.30pm – 5pm
Monday 9 April Bank Holiday, church and exhibition closed
Tuesday 10 April                       10am – 1pm & 2pm – 5pm
Closing Prayer to end exhibition time to be confirmed

It was lovely to see all of you, meet all of you, at the opening last night.  Thank you so much for coming and what a pleasure to meet you all. 

The exhibition has been set up in the upstairs gallery of St James's Church.  I was helped greatly by friends and family to get everything up to Piccadilly from Bognor Regis and to put it all in place, so that it could be seen and read as clearly as possible.  As it is a very famous and historic listed building, my instructions for exhibiting the paintings - don't touch the walls!  Do not stick anything to anything and please, no blutack.  So, how to arrange the paintings.  We leant them against the walls, we put them on the pews, we bought little plate display stands - loads of them - from hardware shops, and put the laminated (less bendy after lamination) descriptions, stories and instructions in the smaller ones, the smaller paintings in the larger stands.  We arranged little potted plants in pretty containers and we put 5 vases of the most beautiful colourful flowers everywhere.  There is a good sized TV screen and earphones for the film and there are cushions in some of the pews for comfort.  And now, the exhibition looks wonderful, the church is such a special building and we are open to the public.

This is a short entry, I will add bits as I go along.  We were very happy to have Nushi Khan-Levy at the opening, looking much better than she did in the painting of her while she was undergoing chemo for her cancer.  Nushi has hair now, and is very slender and looking good.  It is still day by day for her, though she is clear, she has had cancer and is so far, out the other side.  Nushi became a bit of a walking talking piece of art, as people got to notice that she was the lady in the painting, only much better now. Nushi with her cancer is painted below.

Please do come and see the exhibition.  I am very heartened by the response so far, and have met many new people.  One thing that I did not expect and am delighted by, is that five Soul Midwives came along last night.  I had only had email contact with some of them, and was very happy to meet them at last.  There was a small Soul Midwives gathering till we packed up and locked up the church at the end of the evening.

See you all there.  Look forward to it.

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

The New Painting for AGD, the Short Film by Neill Blume, and Penny Hewlett's Poetry Workshop.

The A Graceful Death Poetry Workshop  run by poet Penny Hewlett
 will run on Tuesday 3 April from 2 - 4pm
 Please come up to the exhibition space in the gallery.  The theme of the worshop will be "Face to Face With Loss". 
 The workshop is free.  All very welcome.

 Sarah Crawcour

I want to introduce you to Sarah, above, who I wrote about in the last blog entry.  Sarah has been treated twice successfully so far, for cancer.  She is very sure that she is only getting on with her life, and is not a Survivor.  Sarah does not like that term, it does not describe her.  Though I will describe her as a brave and interesting lady, who is not impressed by the pinkification, as she calls it, of breast cancer.  Sarah found the overwhelming pressure to be positive and to prettify her breast cancer with pink ribbons made her angry, and she did not want to take part in it.  It works for some people, it did not for Sarah, who was scared and worried and coping with chemo and radiation treatment.  Another reason to include Sarah in the AGD exhibition is that she did not want to go to her partner's bedside as he lay dying.  She knew it was not for her and she did not do it.  I like this, because many of us don't get to the bedside of our dying loved ones, even if we wanted to - and many of us wish we had.  And equally, many do not want to be at the bedside at the moment of death, even if they could.  It really doesn't matter, but we tend to believe we ought to be there.  It is more often that people die alone, without us, than with us in the room with them.  Sarah had done what she could, and had said her goodbyes, and knew her mind.  

Neill Blume has finished our short film describing what the exhibition is about, and how those who take part in it react.  I will put a link to it here, and hope that you will enjoy it.  I want to thank Neill who has made a very good film indeed, and all those who took part in it.

I hope to see you all at the exhibition which starts at St James's in Piccadilly on Tuesday 27 March at 10am.  The Open Evening is that evening, the 27 March, from 7 - 8.30pm.  

Monday, 5 March 2012

St James's Piccadilly Update

A Graceful Death opens at the end of this month in St James's Piccadilly.  All is generally in order;  the paintings are done, the short film is done, the book is being done and the organisation is ongoing.

Organisation includes, for me at least, all the housekeeping arrangements from my domestic life.  As I am in London for the whole of the exhibition, plans have to be put in place to enable my 15 year old son to go to and from school here in Bognor Regis, and for him to eat.  Eating is what he does.  He is very tall and very thin and very hungry.  Plans need to be put in place for me to stay in London and to have easy access to the church, which is all done.  My dear friend and AGD supporter, Clarissa de Wend Fenton is putting me up, plus any friends and family that need to stay.  Clarissa is a saint and will go to Heaven. 

Exhibition News 

There are some adjustments to the times and openings for the exhibition.  As the paintings will be displayed in the gallery above the church, there will be times when the exhibition will have to close for an hour or so to allow a service to take place below.  There may be unavoidable random closures during the exhibition, which is perfectly reasonable in that St James's is a working church with a huge congregation.  I will list the ones that I know about so far, below
  • The Gallery and exhibition will close between 1 and 2 pm on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays
  • Thursday 29 March the exhibition will close for one hour in the morning to allow a memorial service to take place.  When I know which hour, I will post it here
  • The poetry workshops have had to change completely.  The only day that is possible for the church is Tuesday 3 April between 2 and 4pm.  Penny, our wonderful AGD poet will try her best to do this.   More later.
  • The Church, and the exhibition, will be closed on Monday 9 March, as it is a Bank Holiday. 
  • The exhibition will be open on Easter Day, usual hours of 12.30 - 5pm

I have finished the painting of Sarah Crawcour.  This is a lady I am very keen to have join the A Graceful Death exhibition; she has not only lost her partner in 2008, but has had cancer once, then twice, and now is in remission.  Sarah is in her late 40s, and is realistic and strong in her outlook on life.  I find her refreshing and positive.  I am not calling Sarah a Survivor, as she does not like that term, she feels it is not true.  She is in remission, is healthy and the cancer has gone, again, and she feels that she is not surviving anything.  Sarah hates the pinkification of breast cancer.  She does not think it is a jolly feminine thing, and was distressed and furious to have had it.  Sarah is a kind, straight talking lady, she is great fun and full of life, and she found the pinkness and the pressure to keep thinking positive overwhelming when she tried to talk about her cancer.  Sarah was scared, frightened, sick, worried, full of panic and felt that this was not always acceptable.  Of course, there are so many people who are sensitive and realistic about cancer and the way it makes those who have it feel, I think Sarah felt that those she spoke with tended to want her to join the pink ribbons, the pink teddies, the upbeat thinking, which she absolutely did not feel nor want.  I liked what Sarah said.  I liked her honesty.  I also liked very much that when Sarah knew her partner was dying, she did not want to go to his bedside.  Despite the fact that she wouldn't have made it in time to be with him as he died, she did not want to go and did not feel that either of them needed it.  I like this so much.  Not many of us are with those we care about when they die, so many of us don't make it.  Yet we feel that we should, we ought, to be there to dance them out of life.  Sarah is loving, and loyal, and was strong enough to say No, it was not what she wanted, and she wouldn't do it.  Sarah's partner died, and Sarah holds his memory with love and care, it did not matter that she was not there.

 Opening Evening is on Tuesday 27 March, 7 - 8.30Please come and take part.

The opening hours for the exhibition are - Monday to Saturday, 10 am to 5pm.  Sundays including Easter Sunday, 12.30 to 5pm.  I will be there every day except the afternoon of Thursday 5 April.

I will have much for you to do, see and take part in at the exhibition.  I look forward to seeing you there.