The space that grief left…

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I’ve been feeling recently that now the grief has gone there is this void, some kind of space left. I originally called this post the ‘hole’ that grief left, but a hole implies something empty, something that something will fall into, no escape, where as a ‘space’ is more fluid and open, something where things can move in and out as they like, and that’s what it feels like. Not quite sure what it is, but it feels good. I recently wrote that I wouldn’t be writing about grief anymore, but I’ve still have so much to say, whether its grief or after grief it’s still there and writing about it helps me understand it, so I’ll continue.

Feeling this space reminds me of what was there before; pain, hurt, hopelessness, misery, mistrust, loneliness. Thankfully I don’t feel any of these now, and hope never to again. I suppose nothing will ever feel as bad, it’s a good feeling to think that’s all in the past, nothing of that magnitude can get me again, which is a great feeling.

So what is it that needs to fill this space, I’m not sure, someone or something fun I hope. The one good thing that came out of grief for me was it altered my style of work, the way I looked at things changed, my practice changed greatly. I think dark times are far most creative periods for artists, I’m not sure why, perhaps you feel emotions so much more. Most good art comes from dark places, look at Bowie’s new album, a bloody amazing piece of work. He created a masterpiece whilst starring death right in the face, what an amazing piece of work to have done, and more so at that time. So upfront about death. What a way to announce to the world you are dying and then die right after release, what a release in all senses of the word! I can’t stop listening to it, I’m listening to it right now as I write this, I’m in awe of this work and the beauty of his handling of his own death. What a man.

Death is always seen as this dark violent secret thing that happens in private, but I always feel you can have beauty in it. That is what I tried in my Tulip project, it wasn’t about death, it was about love, and the final precious moment my mum had left. I never showed her dying, why would you. I told the story of her last weeks and days, and in that there was real beauty. Beauty doesn’t have to be happy, dark sad beauty is the most intriguing to me. I saw The Revenant film last night, wow what a beautiful film in so many ways. Many reviews said it was mindless violence ‘pain porn’, yes it was violent but not mindless in anyway what so ever, it was not there for entertainment or effect. The story is beautiful, all about the undying love for a child, and gosh what an outstanding way to tell it. A really beautiful piece of art, everything was good: directing, editing, cinematography, sound, everything. A complete understanding of the craft and a trust in what and how they were telling it. My point on this is beauty is not pretty and clean, it’s hard and painful even, and I suppose what I’m saying in general is I hope this space that has emerged in me hasn’t taken away that type of feeling for me, I need to keep that. Life would be so boring if anything was bright and cheery, I like dark, I like depressive (sometimes), I like fellow people with issues and problems especially ones who can laugh at these things, without this life would be dull and boring, and who wants that.

It’s interesting looking through my Tulip project now, after 5 years, seeing things in it I didn’t before. I understand why my mum didn’t want to see it until she ‘was all better’. Who would want to see their progression into death, especially when you are finding it hard to come to terms with it yourself. We don’t do death well in our society, so I totally understand why she didn’t want to see it. But I think she might have been pleasantly surprised how I found the beauty in her story. I know she would want to see it now, and as I get ready to send it off out into the public world I think in someway she will be able to now. As these next few weeks unfold, getting closer and closer to finally releasing my project to the ‘world’ I feel my control relinquish, I’m letting go, it has it’s own life now and perhaps I do too…

Tulip on press!

So last week we printed my Tulip book! I was in Verona with the publisher Dewi Lewis to approve and oversea the printing, well the published did that really, I just stood there and was in complete awe of the whole process. I felt so humble by the whole experience, but also had so much pride for my work that was spinning around all the machines and popping out the end. An amazing experience.

Here with a few pics of the process. Book will be out very soon, will let you know exact date soon!

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My Tulip book is on press!

It’s finally happening, my Tulip book is being printed! It started today, myself and the publisher are in Verona to proof the printing for the next two days. We have just proofed the first sheet out the press, amazing watching a press in action, especially with my work whirling around inside it. I love print rooms, such exhilarating places, and so exciting to see my work flying out at the end.

Here are a few quick pics of the first sheet being proofed. Many more to follow.

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A natural ending?

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Knowing when to stop a project is perhaps as important as when you decide to start it in the first place. My next project, which I’m hoping to publish next year after my Tulip project, has been with me for the last 5 years, but only recently I’ve been thinking heavily about how to end it. It feels like it’s coming to a natural end in someway, but I also don’t want to let it go. It feels like it’s been the most important project for me so far on a personal level. In those really really dark days when I struggled to feel like anything would ever feel better again, writing about it all was the only thing that felt like it helped. Writing this blog became my way, and perhaps my only way, of processing the pain, the grief, the utter sadness that was inside me. I didn’t feel strong enough to let on to others what pain I was in, I don’t really understand why. Perhaps it’s because I’ve always been brought up to be a strong person, to get on with things, be practical. So from the exterior I always have been, but the inside was, is, so different. Writing became my, very surprising, outlet. Writing I felt was not my skill, give me camera I feel I can take a decent picture of anything, but ask me to write something and I would shy away. I love the format of a blog, to me it feels personal, diary like, when in fact it’s the compete opposite. Anyone can, I have discovered, read it. I always assumed no one really did. There is something incredibly cathartic about getting all the jumble out of my head, forming some kind of structure of it, and then posting it. It reminds me of a session with a councillor, it’s exactly the same format, when you leave their room you feel relieved, you’ve left with some kind of understanding of all that is going on inside you. The blog, to me, is exactly the same.

The thought of ending this is strange, a bit scary. A bit like when I had my last session with my bereavement councillor, like you’re alone now, heading off into a different stage of your life. Obviously I don’t need to stop writing, but I need to stop writing about grief, I’m no longer in grief, so I’ve run out of material! Which is a great feeling, I genuinely never thought I would get here, it felt like such a deep dark whole I was in, that no one or no thing could ever help, but it did, and for that I am so very grateful. I don’t ever want to return there.

My Tulip project is all about saying goodbye to my dying mum, and this project, about the years after my mums death, is about saying goodbye to grief. I’m looking forward to that, and moving on. Perhaps to do other work that isn’t about such bloody depressing things! Though saying that my next planned project is about loneliness in the elderly, not sure you can get more sad than that. Though it feels like I’m approaching it in a different and more positive way. Having recently signed up to be a Befriender for a charity, it feels like a much more proactive thing, not wallowing in my own self-pity, I hope my work on this subject could help raise awareness in someway.

So I sign this off, of what could be my last post of my grief project, on a positive note and hope next year brings more fun and good times like the end of this year has started to…

Cx

A natural ending?

Cm_Xmas image

 

Knowing when to stop a project is perhaps as important as when you decide to start it in the first place. My next project, which I’m hoping to publish next year after my Tulip project, has been with me for the last 5 years, but only recently I’ve been thinking heavily about how to end it. It feels like it’s coming to a natural end in someway, but I also don’t want to let it go. It feels like it’s been the most important project for me so far on a personal level. In those really really dark days when I struggled to feel like anything would ever feel better again, writing about it all was the only thing that felt like it helped. Writing this blog became my way, and perhaps my only way, of processing the pain, the grief, the utter sadness that was inside me. I didn’t feel strong enough to let on to others what pain I was in, I don’t really understand why. Perhaps it’s because I’ve always been brought up to be a strong person, to get on with things, be practical. So from the exterior I always have been, but the inside was, is, so different. Writing became my, very surprising, outlet. Writing I felt was not my skill, give me camera I feel I can take a decent picture of anything, but ask me to write something and I would shy away. I love the format of a blog, to me it feels personal, diary like, when in fact it’s the compete opposite. Anyone can, I have discovered, read it. I always assumed no one really did. There is something incredibly cathartic about getting all the jumble out of my head, forming some kind of structure of it, and then posting it. It reminds me of a session with a councillor, it’s exactly the same format, when you leave their room you feel relieved, you’ve left with some kind of understanding of all that is going on inside you. The blog, to me, is exactly the same.

The thought of ending this is strange, a bit scary. A bit like when I had my last session with my bereavement councillor, like you’re alone now, heading off into a different stage of your life. Obviously I don’t need to stop writing, but I need to stop writing about grief, I’m no longer in grief, so I’ve run out of material! Which is a great feeling, I genuinely never thought I would get here, it felt like such a deep dark whole I was in, that no one or no thing could ever help, but it did, and for that I am so very grateful. I don’t ever want to return there.

My Tulip project is all about saying goodbye to my dying mum, and this project, about the years after my mums death, is about saying goodbye to grief. I’m looking forward to that, and moving on. Perhaps to do other work that isn’t about such bloody depressing things! Though saying that my next planned project is about loneliness in the elderly, not sure you can get more sad than that. Though it feels like I’m approaching it in a different and more positive way. Having recently signed up to be a Befriender for a charity, it feels like a much more proactive thing, not wallowing in my own self-pity, I hope my work on this subject could help raise awareness in someway.

So I sign this off, of what could be my last post of my grief project, on a positive note and hope next year brings more fun and good times like the end of this year has started to…

Cx

Recent shoot for Hanger Magazine

Recently I spent a fun day shooting for Malaysian magazine Hanger, looking at the new mens barber shops that are popping up in London. The feature is in their UK themed issue out now.

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Back to other times.

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On Sunday I did a strange but beautiful shoot, not beautiful images in particular but beautiful for what it was and what it meant to me. My last post spoke about randomly being invited back to my childhood home, so this Sunday I went. I was both excited and nervous about going back. The house, in Kentish Town, was where I was born (well half of me I got stuck so the other half was in the hospital) and spent the first 6 years of my life. It holds many dear memories for me, and the idea of going back brought up a lot of forgotten ones too, which were nice, not sad as expected. Ringing the bell and being lead in to the house was very strange, but in a nice way, the place still felt the same, it was newer looking and feeling but it still retained the same character. Many of the old features still there, the stained glass windows, the kitchen my uncle built, my mum’s Aga. I brought with me some images to show the new residents, and it was remarkable how similar some things were 30 years on.

I was worried before I went that this trip would bring nothing but sadness, but it was completely the opposite. I thought being back in the house would bring up feelings of grief, missing my mums presence, wanting to go back to my childhood in someway, feelings of missing or longing for that life for when my mum was alive, but it was none of these. The new family that live there are so nice and it was so lovely to see them all living in it as we once did. And what surprised me where all the similarities and beautiful coincidences that kept happening.  Like the fact there were a vase of Tulips in the kitchen, really there could have been any flowers but there wasn’t there were Tulips. The young child, Florence, that lives there now is 6 years old, the age I was when we left, and she is not dissimilar to how I looked then either. She was a lovely little girl, polite, friendly and a nice calm presence, I felt real similarities to the younger me. She and I even had the same child’s bowl with our name on. It was so nice to see all her drawings around the house, as mine would have been, all the happy family photos stuck on the fridge, clues of the new happy souls that are living in the house now.

It was all these things that made it a pleasant experience and so glad I went. It’s a kind of full circle in this project, I’ve been to the places of my mums childhood, and now to mine, and the feelings get less and less sad along the way. Perhaps why this project has needed me to take so long on it.

There’s still more to do, but it’s getting there and so are my emotions and feelings, they are changing as I progress through these times and experiences and if nothing but that comes out of all this then that is fine, that’s all I need.

 

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