Tag Archives: life

Slipping away

13 Feb

then on the shore of this wide world i stand alone and think, till love and fame to nothingness do sink” John Keats.

In this image I try to explore the relationship between the present and the mortal future. It contains the X-ray image of a child with a potentially lethal condition but which can be survived given the right treatment. In a former life in Africa I was surrounded by children who died for lack of resources. Witness to so many that simply slipped away. I was struck by the tacit acceptance of death by people, the realisation that perhaps the children were better off than living in the terrible conditions they encountered. It was a nihilism that I had difficulty coming to terms with then, and even now. Keats’ lines above suggest that death turns all our effort and striving to nothing – they are not worth the stress. Our unlimited values are rendered meaningless by a limited life. In this context death is both the cause and solution of our problems, the fear and the remedy.


Chest 47: Slipping away



Wheel of life

12 Jan

Every so often a picture turns out right. I try to look dispassionately at my art, put it away for 24 hours, look at it again with a fresh eye, sneak a peek at odd times, wonder how it would look to a different observer, and criticise it in my mind. Most frequently they have, to my eye, things that could be done better.

Here is one that satisfies me, it says what I want but doesn’t blurt it all out at once. There is art that has a single message, you get it immediately. After that it loses it’s attraction. Then there is art that holds things back, you must work at it, it releases meaning over time, it intrigues with the hidden message – the enigmatic smile on the Mona Lisa – a now cliched but relevant example. Artworks hanging on walls at home must “work” for their living. If they no longer draw the eye – be consigned to the spare room or migrate to the shed .

I have a feeling that this picture will do that for me.

It was produced after a moment of stress.


Chest 40: Wheel of life

The index X-ray image was taken from a child in ICU who nearly drowned in a swimming pool. In the background sea and rocks continue the water theme. An further inspection on the left the wheel of life turns. The eye is first drawn to the very busy centre with abstract contrasting colours and shapes. This part gives me the feeling of adrenaline rushing.

Yesterday morning I experienced an adrenaline drive one would wish never to have – let me tell you the story. At about 6.00 am the sound of the grand-children children chattering down near the pig-pen could be heard, and as I pottered about I could hear them exploring the undergrowth by the mango trees. Thought their mother must be with them, she has been threatening to go out early to pick the fruit before the heat of the day. After a few minutes they had moved right round into the bush,  still out of sight. Then 3 year old Rogan appears at the back door – alone – no sight or sound of Bronwyn (6 years), it’s obvious their mum isn’t there, so I send him to find his sister and he goes around shouting for her – –  no answer which is worrying. Feeling anxious I finish what I’m doing, put on shoes, go out to look for her and quickly find her lying face-down and very still on the wet grass some distance from the house! She doesn’t move when I call. Now I’ve been worrying about snakes so my heart leaps into my mouth and I run down to her. To my immense relief she turns over, slowly. I pick her up and she starts to chatter about being bitten by a snake – twice – she says Rogan fended it off with a stick, she has had such a bad dream, she must go to day-care today but she doesn’t like day-care – – – if she is sick she doesn’t have to go – does she? I just had to hold her tightly till the adrenaline settled down again. Of course she was fine, despite her wild imaginings, but it frightened me. The mere thought of her injured and possibly killed sends my blood cold.

That is what the fragmented colours at the centre of the picture represent for me.

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