Tuesday, June 26, 2018

"Finding My Haven" is an abstract oil painting, in size about 24" x 28" (62 x 77 cm). I've never exhibited it as it was painted at a time of extreme vulnerability for me and I feel it shows too much of my inner turmoil at that time. I realise that it's very likely only me who can see that turmoil, but nevertheless it's only now I feel I can really put it out there.

Together with my husband, I had been caring for my 90 year old mother for some years, whilst trying to find my feet in Ireland. We had emigrated from South Africa and, although very happy to be in Ireland, felt a little lonely and every inch a "blow in". A "blow in" is a stranger in the land.

It's hardly much of a generalisation to say that everything in the northern hemisphere is different to that of the southern hemisphere. Geography, history, how languages are spoken, perceptions, the stars, the sun, the moon, weather, animals, plants ... you name it, and there are more differences than there are similarities. Even the smells and, for an artist, the basic colours, are different. It's quite an onslaught on the senses. Most of all, cultures are different and I found myself almost like a little animal, trying to sniff out my boundaries of how and where I might find a place to belong.

Caring for a very elderly person whose dementia rapidly developed into Altzheimers is quite tough. Especially when it's your mother and the care needs to be literally 24/7. To put it in a nutshell, it is draining. Very draining indeed when you don't feel all that secure in your own environment at the same time.

This all sounds very negative. It's not. We were happy and willingly took on all these challenges. We did get tired though!

It was during one of these tired periods that a friend gave me a break and I spent a week in her unoccupied apartment, overlooking Galway Bay, where I had time to reflect, to recharge my batteries ... and to paint "Finding My Haven".

Recently, I have been in touch with Hillary Mulholland, a poet who attended the same school as I did a few decades ago in South Africa. I sent her an image of "Finding My Haven" for her to work her word-magic. When she sent me her poem I felt like she had been watching me emigrate and battle with those demons; she seemed able to follow my path for those years and recognise when I took another step. She had seen inside to the soul of "Finding My Haven"

Feet uprooted from the soil of birth

Heart torn from familiar air and earth

Soul in flight to distant shores

Uncertainty hovers, drips then pours ...

Moving ahead boldly then reluctant return....

Where will I love and what will I spurn

Stark deserted desert dunes.....

Ravaged once resplendent ruins....

Torpid tropical tangled trees....

Craven cold city that cares nor sees....

Unwelcome hands and hostile stares

In vanquished villager hope still glares

Sophisticated settler shares the same

Unending unnerving guessing game

Balmy beautiful broken beach

Moody mountains beyond my reach

Where the wind of humanity blows

And humility like a river flows

Here I will find my haven .......