For a long time I was just trying to get through what was left of my life whilst constantly missing the person that was the centre of it. Over the last few months, although I haven’t written anything, I have been trying to live the new life that I have. I’ve learnt that I can still have a future; something that seemed impossible last year. There is a lot to be happy about in my new life but it is always underpinned with a sadness that constantly underlies everything. There is never a day when I don’t think about what happened and it is still painful but I suppose I just accept that now as something that will always be there; an integral part of my life. It has all been brought back very strongly recently because of someone else going missing from a local cliff path; someone who I had actually met a few times. After extensive searches her body was found in the sea by fisherman over a week later. The circumstances are different in some ways but knowing what her family must be going through brought my experience of twenty one months ago right back to the forefront of my mind.
In trying to live my new life one of the things I have had to process is where I go with my art. I have written before about how difficult it has been to carry on. My artwork was so strongly related to the coast of the island on which I live. The coast is still spectacular and I do still go for walks along it but it no longer holds the joy for me that it did. There is now a more dark and sinister beauty about it. The other day when I was walking with a friend we went to a part that I have never walked to before. There were very sheer drops close to the pathway in one particular place. I felt an almost overwhelming pull to the edge whilst at the same time being afraid to leave the path. I have and am sure will continue producing artwork relating to the coast but portraying the joy of the place no longer works in the same way for me and maybe I need to think about embracing and reflecting the darker side of it in some way.
In the meantime I have started working on a series of abstracts. These are a form of therapy and are in many ways a reflection of what has happened in my life. They involve painting and printing, destroying, stitching and recreating the surface into something that works in a different way to the surface that I started with. They are intuitive, reflective and reactionary and involve a lot of random, chance elements as well as those that are decisive choices. I am enjoying producing these works as they allow me total freedom to interact with the surface in a way that is impossible with more representational work as well as, and more importantly, being a way of expressing my emotions and processing my thoughts. I create a surface or surfaces which work and that I like. I then destroy their harmony in a reactionary way with paint and scissors. I am then left with something that is in pieces and no longer works. I then have to recreate what is left into some new kind of harmony. Many of my choices in this are an instant, intuitive reaction to what is in front of me whilst some are more considered.
I have learnt over the last year that I can survive, I can still have a future and that I can still be creative. I also think I am a much more empathetic person than I ever was before. Living on a small island it was difficult to find the support that I needed at the beginning and I didn’t know anyone who had lost someone very close to them in similar circumstances so I ended up reading a lot about grief and other people’s experiences on the internet. This was important for me. What I read helped me to feel less alone. It enabled me to understand and to process my thoughts and emotions better in the knowledge of what others had experienced. At times I found articles that so closely expressed what I was feeling that I shared them on Facebook in the hope that those close to me would read them and be able to understand better what I was going though. I know that some people did and it did make a difference.