Over the last year the subject matter for my paintings has shifted from the mystical to the personal. Having experienced a lot of loss in my romantic life of late, I have found it extremely therapeutic to pour my experience out of my chest and onto a canvas, bringing life and shape to the abstract feelings of grief, emptiness, pain and confusion that come at the end of a relationship.
Back in the summer, I fell very hard for a man who protected himself from the world’s machinations by becoming entirely emotionally unavailable. He had suffered a great deal of loss in his life and had chosen this way as a survival tactic. He also had nearly died from a heart infection a few years before, and had open heart surgery to replace the infected valve. In a quiet room, you can hear it ticking. With my keen/obsessive eye for symbolism I began sketching out ideas. When in the late winter our relationship reached its explosive conclusion due to a complete lack of compatibility, I started this cathartic process.
As both a strident feminist who believes is celebrating the culturally feminine, and as a proud and overtly girlie-girl, it is important to me to always include an element of the twee to my work. Therefore my sketches of hearts became a cartoony mish-mash of the anatomical and the symbolic.
I can only apologise to anyone who feels their privacy violated by this project. I aim to keep things as cryptic as possible but sometimes the work comes out a little more literal and, much as a songwriter might pen painfully honest lyrics about their experience, so I have chosen to squeeze out every last drop of sadness into this body of work.
This painting is around 90% finished, although every time I look at it I see new things to re-do! I did this in one 5 hour session. Sometimes your muse grabs you and the work just pours out of you!
My work always starts out so messy! That’s just my process, though, and I’m not embarrassed to show the world! This was around 5 hours again. A lot of work is required to tidy it up and finish it, but the groundwork is there.
I have planned between 7 and 10 paintings for this project and a potential place to exhibit them in a few months (although I won’t say any more because I don’t want to jinx it!). Its strange how such deeply painful subject matter can be such a joy to paint. Perhaps it’s the alchemy of turning something tragic into something beautiful that really feels empowering.