RAW

Sharing the process behinds the scenes…

On a day to day, and moment to moment basis, I live what it means to be ‘me’, Veronique Maria, a gay woman, artist, devoted mother and grandmother, Buddhist and lover of life. I do this simply because that is ‘me’.

But as I get older and turn towards becoming sixty, and face my own mortality in a new way, I find myself taking yet another serious look at my art practice and asking ‘Is it enough to simply live my experience of myself in this way? Is it ok for me to live all of that and then translate and transform my life experience into ‘showable’ and ‘presentable’ art work?’

‘Is that really ok with me?

‘Am I doing enough in the world? Am I making enough difference, simply by being connected fully to my passion and purpose and sharing that with others through my art?’

What else needs to be said and done?

I find it important to ask myself is ‘Are the things I am trading my life for, worthy of my life?’ ‘Am I fully aligned and making the work I was born to do?’

Interestingly, a similar sort of seriously intense re-evalation of my art practice happened as I approached aged 50 and 40 too, but of course I am always re-evaluating my art practice each and every day too. I always evaluate my work and my life in an attempt to keep fully on track.

Life is so very precious, a treasure to be taken very seriously in my opinion, but something is different about this questioning I am doing right now. Something is moving and something is shifting in a new way. I don’t completely understand it yet, maybe I never will, but what I do know is that I feel excited, (and I have to admit, extremely nervous too) about what I am about to share with you.

The thing is, I am about to make move further into the RAW.

I know I could just wait another decade to make this move, or never bother to do it at all, and to be honest it would be relatively easy to avoid the situation completely, but that’s why I therefore want to, and need to, declare this to you now – that from now on, intend to share much more of myself with you…. to be much more raw.

Ok, so that may not seem like a particularity big statement right now, but hang on in there with me and I will explain.

There has always been loads of creative work that I do which supports my art practice – the sort of creative expression that I would call ‘the work behind the scenes’. Much of this I never show publicly. I use this kind of work as a starting point, and to inform my ‘other’ more polished and showable work that I let go out into the world. But why do I do this? Why wouldn’t I show you everything? Why wouldn’t I?!

The work I have traditionally kept more to myself has often tended to be live art, performance for camera, most written work (poetry, and mixed genre writing for example) and experimenting with materials and sound, but it can also be drawing, painting and sculpture that are processes I never show you. So why, (up until now) haven’t I shared and shown that work? What would it be like to be completely exposed and vulnerable with you?

It seems that (for the most part) I’ve been ok with keeping my ‘naked’ sort of work to myself.

My creative work that I put out into the world has always been incredibly personal. From the time I wrote my first poems about love, passion and grief inspired by my girlfriend when we were at school aged 14-16.

I have always been expressing myself in this way but maybe her homophobic plea to me, to keep our love a secret, and my loyalty to her held me back at first.

And later down the line maybe I had some kind of mindset around ‘the artist’s job’ being to make work that talks to the ‘collective’, to the ‘people’, and that to be so revealing of that  which is deeply intimate and personal would be taking away from the ‘other’.

There are other reasons for my ambiguity and abstraction too. I have been holding back so as not to impact others. The people that I love.

But now things have to change.

And I feel differently about all that now. I believe that by sharing ‘me’ I offer a gift to you.

Anyway it’s certainly time for a change.

I know some people think what I already reveal through my art is extremely passionate, brave and expressive, and they admire what I am willing to share of my personal life in the way that I do, but it’s simply not enough for me anymore.

I’ve been concealing the depth of my truth by skirting around the surface and now want to reveal much more of the personal me, in my raw, overt and undeniable state.

I want to stop censoring,  judging, controlling and deciding. Of course I will still do those things as my output and productivity is enormous, so there will have to be some sort of editing and choice going on, but I want to make sure I make, reveal and share ‘a raw expression of an intimate connection’ with you. The raw expression of my intimate connection with my self, with my creativity, with my life and with my love.

I have a wonderful new PA who arrived in my office yesterday. In the process of familiarising her with an over view of my 40+ years of creative output as an artist, I realised that I want to come out and show my work in this raw and overt way in the direct and explicit context of love.

Yes, there will still be finished consumable products in my practice, it’s not all about the raw, but the other side of my practice, or maybe I should call it the centre, or praxis, that which is the core of me….that is what needs to come now.

So without further procrastination and stalling (which is what I’ve doing here if you hadn’t already noticed) ….here’s a taster of the sort of things I write, think about, play with in private.

This is an extract from my journal originally written on 15th June this year.

To set the scene for you, my ex-lover Jak was dying. She had been given medication which had sent her to sleep and she would not be waking up from this, not ever. She was in hospital and had been in great pain for months. The medical staff couldn’t help her manage the pain anymore. She was exhausted. The morphine and the pre-med cocktails didn’t touch the sides. Everything in her body was breaking down. Things had gotten really bad. She had been offered a way out……
At first she resisted. For a few hour, then she took the potion…..

At my time of writing, she was drifting away but had not yet passed away.

There were several hours where she was in a liminal space…

***

Today I was re-reading the writing I had written in that time of suspension. I added to the original text this morning by way of a ritual closing with her. It’s been just over three months since  her death. I guess this is a sort funeral speech which I was unable to manage to come to say at the time.

(Journal extract – 15th June 2016 – by Veronique Maria)

Gratitude for Eternal Love

Dearest…

I want you to know that I won’t ever stop loving you.

It’s important that you know this.

Death and distance haven’t come between us for me,
they’ve just transformed our eternal connection into something else,

something new.

And I am making my adjustments.

***

When you came to me in the night,

that night you were dying,

you said

‘be awake my love, be awake’.

It was 3am.

I scratched my ankles till they were red, raw and tingling

in order to be alert  – to pay full attention to you.

You came to me in the night when you were dying and said

‘be awake my friend, STAY awake and LIVE!’

And in that still and peculiar silence of that night,

in the dead of that deathly night,

into my broken arms and heart you came.

And as you were dying you lay there with me, touching me, holding me,

soothing my broken breaking aching heart.

For surely I was dying in that moment too,

dying with you.

I was convinced of that. That is how it felt.

LEAD, running in my veins, such thick slow gloop,
HEAVY
like poison

I couldn’t move for weeks after that

I was frozen
stiff

completely lost

and sad

This letter is to thank you for doing all you could to help me as you were passing through that night.
and to thank you for the gifts you gave me,
the gifts of love and of life.

When I was grieving with a desperate ache that would

(had I crawled in beside you)

have had me clawing at you begging

‘please don’t go, please stay, don’t leave’

I had to stay away.

You knew that.

We both knew that.

I had to keep away and you helped me do that with such love and sensitivity.

Even in your time of immense pain, so absolutely unbearable, you still loved me.

and then in that liminal space, when peace and sweet relief had come to you
you came back to me

***

I miss you like I would miss the very bones and ligaments of my soul,

(if my soul were to have such things)

but what I know now and I didn’t know then,

is that you are, and will always be deep within me.

I carry you there.

and the depth and degree of my missing,
my aching
and my grief, reminds me of us.

and with that knowledge
now I can sit with this missing.

True,

our deep connection comforts and strengthens me.
But after all the daily stories we shared this year,
and all those 17 years before

our connection and loving,

our reopening,

I had to catch myself falling again,

falling for you

falling into you
and I knew I couldn’t.
We talked about it.

I couldn’t let myself do that

I had to come away

I had to keep away

my body made sure that I would keep away

she tried to keep me safe from pain,
the excruciating pain of separation that comes only after such a profound connection,
the pain that seems unbearable.

she tried to save me
but I loved you again
and my heart broke again
just as it always had done with you

and as I grieved the loss of you,
trying to get over you, I remembered our deep connection and undying love again.

Its one thing to love
and quite another to love and LIVE together
we didn’t manage both.

I know why you came to me that night,

in night when you were dying.

I know you came to remind me of our eternal love and give me strength to carry on.

I know you came to tell me to
LIVE as well as to love.

My bedroom filled with thick ether,
thick with a smoke like mist

a mist all around me

a translucent blue spider
the sort I’ve never seen before,
dropped herself down from the ceiling
directly over my body
and hung suspended – inches from my heart.

I lay still,

watching as she remained motionless there.

I couldn’t let her come any closer – she was,
and you were (it seemed)

already far too deep inside of me.

I cupped my hand upwards and slid it across my chest
two inches below the spider.
I hoped the energy from my palm would speak to her

and I spoke out loud
gently whispering

“stop there please darling – no closer,
it’s time to go now
it’s time for you to go home.

It took a lot say that.
You’ve been my love like no other.

You were the lover that knew me right inside,

in the places that I didn’t even know myself.

It was time to go.

I needed to be released from this spell,

your spell, our spell,

before you

completely departed

***

love transforms…
and sometimes, when we are open to it,
death brings relief and release.

I honestly believed I had died with you that night

passed away with no more will to live

it’s true, I lost it, …(the will that is)

but the fact is, that I didn’t die after all.

and I know that now.

The fact is, that in your passing

and after my grief

I have found a new life,

a new love

and a knew knowing.

You’ve given me a wisdom that I never expected,
you’ve shown me spirituality in a way I didn’t know before,
you’ve inspired me to step into something new,
a new way of being
a new way of living
a new way of loving.

You’ve released me from your spell
and
I’m eternally grateful.

I’m free now

You know this too.
(But it just still felt really important to say it anyway.)

And I won’t ever stop loving you Jak
it’s just that the love has now transformed.

Always

X

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