Gone Fishing - living on in our artistic creations
Updated: Apr 2
I belong to a wonderful writing group who meet every six weeks. We take it in turns to host and guide the group into a writing exercise. Recently, our host, Alan, showed us this small and delicate watercolour. We had seven minutes to write a piece. I wrote:
It's been a long day. Up at 4.00 am because my mind played out every single last scenario of where my life is heading. By the time the sun began her approach to my particular horizon, I’d slammed up against so many brick walls my mind was a bleeding slab of meat, tenderised and ready to be chucked on the barbie.
There. Was. No. Way. Out.
I rubbed my eyes. It felt like someone had built a sandcastle under my eyelids. I cranked my curtain aside to see a bruised sky. I empathised. I opened the window, and a breeze delivered the metallic taste of sea air. It lured me out, still in my creased pyjama bottoms and singlet. The seagulls cawed their lonely song. I crossed the small road that separated me from the beach. A lost baby’s bonnet was tied to the wooden post that began the marching fence down to the beach. One footstep in front of the other. One failure in front of the other. One heartbeat in front of the other. One heartbreak in front of the other. One, two, three, four.
I crested the dune. The bluish black clouds pointed to my destination. There I would sleep. Finally.
There. Was. A. Way. Out.
Then I saw him. Another lonely soul on the edge of the vast unknown, reaching into the ocean. Casting for something, anything, nothing. Maybe something. Maybe not meaningless, for the simple act of his hope brought the sun peeping over my particular edge of the world. Over me.
When the time was up, we read out our pieces. They varied in points of view, place and style (a conversation looking at the painting, a futuristic simulation of the real/not real figure in the painting, the point of a view of a cat or was it a dog? A mirage, a mystery unfolding at Lochness and a study on purple rain), yet we agreed there was an underlying commonality that we believed the artist had put in place when she painted it many years ago.
Alan then told us about the painting. The artist was a friend of his, called Frances Stone. Sadly, she had recently declined deep into dementia. When she first became ill, her husband auctioned off all her paintings and donated the proceedings to charity. Alan had borrowed this sweet picture for our writing group, and he planned to return it with all our pieces that her husband would read out to her.
The very next day, Alan relayed to us the news that Frances passed away just as we were finishing our writing exercise. Only one of us knew Frances, but we were all touched that we were honouring her at that moment.
I recently posted a quote on Instagram:
A piece of art—be it a painting, the written word, a crocheted blanket, a song, a piece of jewellery or a carved spoon, can live forever. In our art we leave behind a legacy, because in every piece the creator has woven through a part of their story and a part of their soul. And when you use it or look at it or wear it or read it, there is always something for you to remember them by, to love them by, and honour them by.
I have some pieces of writing and poetry written by my late father. I imagine him tapping away at his typewriter in his study, in the house we grew up, or later in his beloved home in Spain. In reading his words I remember the way he spoke, his humour and his glee at creating something out of his imagination. He lives on in those pages.
So, whether you can write or not, draw or not, sing or not, I invite you to give it a go. Create today for all your children’s tomorrows, because one day we will all be gone fishin’.