22 May 2018
Exactly one year ago to the day, I sustained a heavy blow to the crown resulting in a serious head injury which took months to recover from. About 12 hours later, on the same day, the Manchester Arena terror attack happened and the whole nation went into shock and grief, the recovery of which is still taking place.
During my own personal recovery period the world changed into a strange and dark place where management of my mostly invisible symptoms resulted in a sense of isolation and disconnection from those around me. Besides the obvious pain, it was the experienced lack of trust in me and my ability to think and keep myself physically safe, and the accompanying fear that came along with this, that required the greatest adjustment.
When I was able to look outside of myself at the world around me in the weeks that followed, it felt like there were parallels all around; the darkness, the fear, the lack of trust and sense of disconnection that only intensified when the London terror attacks then happened less than two weeks later.
I’m aware that my own injury meant that it was probably easier initially to see the pain and the fear than any of the coming together that did happen and was a part of the national and international response to the attacks.
The experience felt too deep and too dark to recognise the brief shimmerings of light in the outside world and I experienced instead an instinctive need for a more tangible, connected and internal response to the darkness.
In early June 2017, I started to paint a new series of work which I called The Hidden Light Series.
The Hidden Light Series had many needs, if I am honest, but predominantly and significantly the primary need was to attach to something beautiful again and to attempt to find the light hidden in the darkness.
The driving force became about restoring balance, and to bring the good back up to a level which made it bearable to reach out to life again, as opposed to live in fear of it.
I took great comfort in the simplicity of the scenes and the normality of the very ordinary and human exchanges that were captured in the work. The dark and scary places ceased to exist in the images and, instead, what emerged was simply a remembrance that calm, safe and ordinary do still exist. Which they do, every day. I think that it is important to remember that, when the world around is suddenly plunged into chaos and fear.
One year on, when I look again at the outside world I can see that a lot of what I have been able to reconnect to through my paintings has also happened on a wider scale. There is more colour in the world and people have been united again through love and compassion and a need to exist beyond the terror and the threat.
The Hidden Light Series
Your vision will become clear only when you can look into your own heart. Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes
Time to Sleep
Pasar Malam (The Night Market)
Di Rumah (At Home)
The Hidden Light
Di Pagi Hari (In the Morning)