Life and its many dramas has got in the way of a number of things in my life being temporarily put on hold and one of them has been writing blog posts. It seems this year has thrown up one challenge or disaster after another and as a result studio time has been severely curtailed. What has held me back? Well sometimes I have just not being physically able to get to the studio because of other, more urgent matters that needed attending to. Sometimes I had no emotional space for sustained creativity.
Despite all the crap going on I have managed to make some art. You'll remember that I started a new series of works on that amazing woven cotton paper (see here and here). Here are 2 new works in the series.
The title of this work is The Shape of Pain 1. I have to disclose right here, right now that the title and general idea for this work was shamelessly stolen from a friend . My friend, who for the purposes of anonymity I will call Sarah, is not an artist and so I don't think she'll mind that I stole her idea. Besides, everyone knows that's what artists do. We are gleaners, we gather ideas and turn them into something new. Some, such as Picasso, were bold enough to call it stealing. Yeah, he's probably right.
Sarah has a very dear friend who lost her husband when a helicopter he was travelling in crashed. She was telling me how she had seen her friend recently, about a year or so after the accident and that her friend had developed an unusual wrinkle in her forehead that had never been there before. It was a square-shaped wrinkle on her forehead that extended to another square wrinkle over her nose. Sarah went on to say that she had recently been thinking about the "shape" of pain and that her friend's newly developed wrinkle struck her as a stark example. In my work I have drawn the helicopter blades in ink. The right hand column is fractured, breaking the rotars apart. The "wrinkle" shapes, as interpreted by me from Sarah's description, are stitched over the top.
This is a very personal work about pain that is so private, so visceral that it can never be shared. Even as we long for it to be gone we cannot help but hold it. Holding on to the pain is unbearable and yet to let it go is unthinkable for fear we may lose the one thing that keeps us connected to the most dearly loved one we have lost. We can't express the pain, for there are no words. We want to crumble and yet we must go on. The pain cannot be buried. It will out and show itself, it will write itself on our faces to be read by those sensitive enough to recognise its language.
Sarah's second "shape of pain" was the body in the foetal position. To me this is the shape of pain at its inception, when the pain is raw and cruel and all engrossing.
Again I have used Sarah's friend's story as the basis for this work, The Shape of Pain 2. The wounded helicopter with it's damaged rotor casts a dark shadow in the background. The colours are those of the bushland in which the helicopter crashed, green and gold and dried browns. The abstracted figures are worked in pale threads, the pallor of shock and grief and tears cried and dried and cried again until the eyes run dry.
The two figures represent the disembodiment that occurs when shock claims us. One figure is anchored to the scene of the tragedy, psychologically, physically.....
..even as the mourner remains bodily in another realm altogether.
There is no cure for the pain suffered in the loss of the one you hold most dear. There is only time.
I dedicate these works to Sarah's friend and every one who carries on and lives life the best they can while carrying the burden of personal, unspeakable tragedy.
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I am a hand embroidery artist living and working in the rugged and wild Central HIghlands of Tasmania.