Thinky thoughts! #BlogJune 30

I’ve been talking with my friend Penny tonight and, as often happens, the art chat circled back to the roots of our addictive natures, which for both of us led to morbid obesity. We also talked about symbolism in our art.

Penny asked why the Patea freezing works and cool stores appear and reappear in my art, even when I’m seemingly concentrating on the Hokitika Gorge colours. It’s an interesting question.

When I was sitting on Alan’s lounge floor in Hokitika contemplating the series of abstract mixed media pieces I was working on I suddenly realised I’d been loosely drawing the shape of the cool stores.

I’m Patea born and bred and, at 56, have only lived away from here for a few years. I left at 18 and came back at 27. This is home. Growing up, the Freezing Works were central to our lives – Dad’s grocery business depended on them in some ways, friend’s parents worked there, friends expected to work there as generations before them had.

The freezing works dominated the landscape as we drove into town from the south – a symbol of home in the same way the maunga is. The freezing works is long gone, demolished after a fire. The cool stores remain, long-abandoned and heavily graffitied.

My addictive nature has its roots in pain essentially, according to Dr Gabor Máte in his book “In the realm of hungry ghosts; close encounters with addiction” and more recently the movie “The wisdom of trauma”. I’ve talked about some, but not all, of that pain before so let’s put that aside.

For me the freezing works and cool stores symbolise home – not just my town or the family home – but Mum, Dad and my sister. They stand for love and safety or, to put it into an addiction/pain context, those buildings represent anti-pain. No wonder my mind pulls fragments of them out all the time…

Shared memories #BlogJune 23

I don’t have a great memory and freely admit it. I sometimes worry that my memories of Mum and Dad are sketchy – especially of Dad, who died 30 years ago. Some memories are mine alone, some are shared with other people. Tony and I have a lot of shared memories of Mum because we lived with her as caregivers for 14 years. Other memories are ones I share with my sister Ailsa, or my best friend Sandra (of both sets of parents).

I’ve just come back from 10 days in Hokitika with my friend Alan. His Dad and mine were good mates so I spent a lot of time on their farm as a child then teen. When we were teens they spent a lot of time at our Waverley Beach bach. We have a lot of shared memories and many of those memories involve Dad.

It got me thinking about why I love this photo so much. The most obvious reason is it’s my beloved Dad. Summer was always a happy time in my life; Mum and I stayed at the beach – Dad came down every night after work and we went swimming together. Dad was teaching me to ride his motorbike, which I loved, even after I had a wee accident on it! Dad’s in his shorts and a hat, so the weather is good and he’s relaxed. Oh, and I loved that red blouse & my jeans so much!

One photo, but so many clues and memories. No wonder I treasure my photo albums and scrapbooks ❤

Pouring out the words

I decided yesterday I’d do a journal about my angel babies, and pour out all the feelings onto paper. I knew once I started I would be a bit teary and obsessive – and warned Tony. Turns out I am obsessive but not teary. But my god am I dredging up old memories and hurts, and dealing with them.

Here’s an example of something I had tucked away but never let go of … Relatively early in our infertility journey my then-husband started showing the first signs of depression. My Mother-in-law, who I had a mixed relationship with, said “If you’d just have a baby, he’d feel better”. Well, f*ck me, why hadn’t I thought of that?

I’m being consistent about how the pages look because that makes me happy, and ensuring the bulk of the writing is unreadable because it’s so personal – but also contains other people’s personal information. Infertility isn’t a journey you take on your own, and impacts on all aspects of your life. I’ll be writing about love, sex, affairs, needles, medicine, deaths, depression, family, friends, betrayals … this is a ‘warts and all’ journey. I’m not sure it will end up being in chronological order because I suspect old memories will come back as I write. Thanks for being part of this healing journey with me.

Art heals – thinking about Mum

Every year, as Mum’s birthday on June 30 approaches, I sleep badly and have vivid dreams. Mum died in 2012; we let her go with love in our hearts, knowing she was very ready to die. Yet my brain persists in this hyper-awareness every year. As in previous years, working in my art journal helps. Art really does have the power to heal people.

This photo was taken in 2011, her last Christmas, with her grandson Rowan. I have no idea now what they were talking about, but I can remember it being quite animated! I have put a heart over her face because sometimes I can’t bring her face to my mind, which is such a scary feeling. Mum may be gone, but love remains. The good memories are wrapped firmly round me heart.

mum journal page 2018-06-24

Memories and dreams

I have been dreaming a lot lately; usually a sign my mind is very busy, which would be a fair comment. I’ve started a new series of paintings, after going back through old material form my years at The Learning Connexion and doing some fresh research into the artists we studied and whose work spoke to me. I re-read some comments from my tutor, Peter Adsett, and thought about how they apply to my work now.

Once I started painting I found I’d gone right back to being fascinated by the edges of the canvas, and that my memories of the old Patea Freezing Works buildings – which I have painted before – have reappeared. I think those shapes are strongly ingrained in my mind, and appear in my dreams and when I am painting without thinking too hard about it. The first one hardly referenced the buildings, but the shapes get stronger as my hand keeps working.

Here are the three works I have done so far – one may need warming up a bit yet, but I am watching it for a day or two. The white is not as stark as it appears, I kept getting glare on fresh paint from the lower afternoon sun.

DSC_0004 Fog 1 port 1