Archives for category: rethink
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Revelations 2:17

I have had five encounters with incredible women of God over the last few days, and each time I have been awestruck in how, in each of these cases, the person has had the exact gifts and abilities for that moment.

The first was a wonderful artist friend who, because I couldn’t really move, took time to stop and be still with me. And so we sat and chatted, and out of that came great healing and realisation for both of us that we just don’t stop and seek the face of God often enough. Through my struggling she was encouraged to stop and be still.

The second was one of joy, and laughter and the occasional Lindt chocolate which lifted my spirits and restored my hope; made me feel accepted when I felt tired and removed and isolated.

The third was simple acceptance of me as I am, making my inability disappear as we talked and celebrated the success of others

The fourth spoke truth into my life. She didn’t even need to be near; she just understood and spoke truth over me, removing doubt and fear and guilt that did not need to be.

And the fifth encouraged and loved. She swept in like a practical angel, sorting and aiding before praying beauty and restoration over me, affirming my identity and sense of worth at the exact moment it was being rocked.

To these five incredible women, I thank you, knowing that my journey is smoother and more full, more beautiful because of your intervention and love x

 

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If I’m being honest I haven’t been in the shed properly for a while. Sciatica is a loud condition and my mind hasn’t really been able to rest enough to paint with integrity. But I started these three pieces. I was surprised to select red as the base for these paintings… I think they’ll end up being white but the red underneath seemed important.

I remember naively thinking I would do a series of paintings while I was giving birth 12 years ago. I even got the canvases ready and primed. But then pre-eclampsia took over and that was foiled. But I remember being mindful of the colour of pain and my conclusion is the same today as it was then. It is white. Blinding white. Computer screen brightness white. White so stark it makes your head pound and your eyes close tight and your whole body curl tight, which is exactly the opposite to the response encouraged response to pain which is to relax and embrace and breathe through it.

Last night was a bad night. In my wisdom I decided to come off the stronger pain killers, which in short was a mistake. I have never known anything like it. No position was pain free. Nausea and dizziness contributed their fine qualities and without the care and compassion of my children and husband I think I would have wept all night. Needless to say the stronger pain killers are welcomed back with open arms….. I cannot allow my kids to see me like that. But the whole thing gets you thinking.

I recently watched the film ‘Cake’ starring Jennifer Aniston, and her depiction of a woman in chronic pain was just so moving. The journey of choosing to live, of wanting to try, to get better was portrayed so brilliantly. It’s not dislike the film ‘Girl interrupted’ which I watched years ago. A similar journey. I have also recently met up with an incredibly courageous woman who has gone through so many operations and pain over the last eight years it’s unspeakable. And yet she is still standing, still loving her boy, still fighting with everything she has to live.  That is courage standing right there.

Don’t you find that it’s only when you lose something you appreciate it fully? Putting on your socks, sitting down for a whole meal, thinking clearly, little things. Our bodies are just so incredible, just so intricate. But it is when they don’t work that all these things we take for granted are realised. We are fearfully and wonderfully made. We ARE fearfully and wonderfully made. And that is what these pieces are about.

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I’ve used sewing patterns over the top of the text to refer to this but, again with most of my paintings, by the time we get to the finished piece these may not even be visible, but the fact that they are here now is important to me. We are fearfully and wonderfully made.

It’s been a strange few weeks. It started with lower back pain, nothing really of substance, just a numb dull pain that wouldn’t shift. So I did what I assume everyone else does in these situations and ignored it! By the Thursday the pain was becoming a little troublesome and had started travelling down my leg, so time for a quick trip to the doctors, who were amazing and squeezed me in. An hour or so later and I was Googling ‘sciatica’ to see what was in store. I’d been offered pain killers but hadn’t accepted them as, to be honest it wasn’t hurting that much, but by that evening, my goodness me. My threshold for pain seems to be severely lacking and I was very glad to order some relief through the doctors.

It’s a peculiar thing not to be able to sit down. I can lie flat and still, and that is most comfortable, but moving again afterwards is just excruciating for a good 15-20 minutes until I think I just adapt to the pain and work through it. Once moving, moving is good and constant moving really helps. The danger, I’ve found, is overdoing it in that blissful hour when the medication has kicked in and you feel like you can pull out and hoover behind the sofa, under tables and maybe even consider some gardening. But boy do you feel it later.

In theory the whole thing is mind over matter. It’s a nerve telling you that you are in pain. There actually isn’t anything wrong apart from the trapped nerve sending messages. I remember being told before giving birth to breathe through the pain, to embrace the pain. I think if that person had been in the room when I was giving birth to my girl, not only would she have told in no uncertain terms that her suggestion was boloney but she might have been out cold on the floor! Saying that I have a choice: I can rest in bed and withdraw, wallow a little in self pity and hope that the pain will eventually subside; or I could just keep going, just keep moving and see what I can achieve in my current state. Disappointingly, ironing seems something I can do, as is cooking and cricket (to a very poor level!) I have very much enjoyed watching ‘Miss Potter’ with my girl who I believe could very well be an author one day. I can listen to my friend and provide a hug of encouragement. I can struggle with a maths problem with my boy, offering no help really at all but affirming him that he will get there in the end. I can listen and believe my man as he affirms me with kindness and love.

I think I’ve not only realised my threshold for pain is more than I originally thought but my capacity to help or to be useful through the little, seemingly insignificant things I can do means more to others and holds more value than I thought possible.

anna-crook-stitched-canvas-iiI am revisiting a body of work I completed in 2014 I think (really… was it that long ago!?!) in which I used the coast line of the Lake of Galilee to form the compositions of a series of pieces. I was speaking to a Mr. Jeremy Bournon, an artist I hold in high esteem, and we were talking about potentially having a joint exhibition come January 2018. He’d looked through my past work and liked the idea of approaching a coast from above rather than from the traditional viewpoint, so here I am thinking again.

This work for me held a conceptual meaning as well. I was considering how we often pick at ourselves in an “I’m not good enough” way, focusing on our faults and failings rather than seeing ourselves as a whole. We pick and pick at ourselves until we can become undone. And yet it is often these things, once overcome, that shape us into the people we are. They can define us in a different way. The coastline is textured through using stitching and yet the perspective is from above, removing the focus from the small stitches to the bigger picture.

20160819_134319This summer we went to Malaysia and there I seemed to find myself. For me it was such a real and raw place, everything uncovered and lain bare. You wanted a fish, it was gutted in front of you. You want something mending and the equipment used was there for all to see rather than hidden in some back room. And in contrast I felt I was all hidden away, false almost. During the holiday I felt these pretences falling away and in some respects I discovered my value again. This is something I want to express through the artwork to come.

The coastline of Penang and Malaysia will be my composition but now I’m trying to work out how to create the texture so it is both aesthetically pleasing and significant to me in a symbolic way.

20160825_092123One thing that really appealed to me was the walls. They are broken and yet beautiful. They are the  background to some of the most stunning street art on the island, artist Ernest Zacharevic transforming these walls through hand painted murals. I like the idea that part of my work could be broken and yet held together and still beautiful. Time to experiment in the shed.

 

I believe a lot of people go through what I’m going through right now – a complete rethink. It’s seriously cold today and I’m kind of huddled with a mug of tea and some spicy samosas in my kitchen, looking out of the window at the rain and dankness of the day, knowing that I need to get into the shed and yet…

In the months from September I have found myself becoming a housewife, and those of you who know me will know that this is not a natural leaning! It just seems that every time I have some time freed up from my day job, life and housework keep demanding my attention and I’m not impressed. Time for action, and it does not involve an iron, nor a duster. Time to reclaim my art time and get focused.