show me your face

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Flowers appear on the earth;
the season of singing has come…..
My dove in the clefts of the rock,
in the hiding places on the mountainside,
show me your face,
let me hear your voice;
for your voice is sweet,
and your face is lovely.

For a booklet of meditations for Advent, I was asked to respond to the text (Song of Songs 2:8–14 ) Even though not a typical interpretation, the roses represent the sometimes invisible yet persistent presence of love, and when reading the scripture in the context of my art I am reminded of Advent’s longing for light in the darkness and that the bringer of light appears on earth as a child.

a complex grief

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After laying aside my curatorial work with the Stairwell Gallery, my mind has turned to my own work as a priority. But as I approach it I notice that as well as a sense of need and desire to make art, there is a deep hesitation.

To overcome that reticence, I decided to keep my art practice simple. I have hand torn small squares of water colour paper as my support, and ink as my medium. As my reference I have  pictures of roses from the neighbourhoods I spend my days in. I thought: I will just get myself started with small roses and go from there.

But even with this simplicity, I notice my reluctance and mood deepen; and at the same time I notice that I am soothed somehow by making roses, and that I really don’t want to be making anything else but these small gestural pieces.

Then I began seeing them as plumes of bombs as seen from above. And sometimes they look like glimpses of landscape seen from the air through a break in the clouds. I also imagine them as broken hearts or voices.  And sometimes, thanks to the sheen of the ink, they look wet, and the roses become small pools of tears.

This morning I understood that my reluctance to engage with and the desire to do my work both come from the same place- from grief.  And so I will continue with these roses as they seem to be giving symbol and solace  to the many layers of sadness I feel:  for my own childhood, for the loss of my family; for what I learned of war and holocaust when I was little, for what I have learned of these as a woman; for mothers and children lost under bombs; for creatures and our world suffering under the weight of greed; for our collective past from which we  have learnt so little, and for our present in which so many of us feel helpless.

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