The Weight of Water
I met Em in a Women's Circle. In a dream I saw her in a lake and she was safe for the water held her up. It was evening and the light had softened. If we float are we free, can we leave our bodies for a while and see a different world? I usually photograph the story of my participant, they talk and I listen; both to the words and to the current flowing under them. This time I asked if she liked water and if she was willing to experiment with me by becoming the woman in my dream for an hour. In her work she practises reiki and reflexology, I feel a connection to her as if she is to teach me something about how we release trama. If I see her floating - what is it that I need to do, if the light is golden - is that me asking for my heart to fill with something other than the grey hues of sadness and regret?
Last autumn I asked a friend Golda, what healing would look like so I could work out how to photograph it? She said I was not there yet - thus I could not feel or see it. She is my wisest friend. I have lived trauma and I see it in others. It can scare me when I look into an eye and feel a jolt of in my solar plexus. This the purpose of photography for me, looking for the connection, seeking my twin? It leads me into a tribe where I come to understand myself by finding a mirror in the eye of another. It eases loneliness.
In my work I will continue to explore the trauma we endure, if I bear witness to the resilience in another, and see how they rise, they find value in that portrait for they chose to lower their guard and confront the viewer. Their defiance is empowering for us both. But I long for beauty to be abundant in my world too.
What might peace or joy feel like? How can it be extraordinary, how might I create that frame? I seek healers and tend to my pain. I had surgery to mend something broken in childhood, I took the physio, the reiki, the shaman, yoga and meditation. I had so much trauma in early life that I wonder if I will ever finish this grieving. I long for ecstasy and the quiet moments of contentment. I run away with my imagination, make up an atlas of places that do not exist and value the dreams that stream through my heart. The art of fantasy - a childhood tactic turned into a photographic project.
A new life requires a death of some kind, a letting go. What we let go of, is a way of being in the world that we have outgrown. I am working on exorcising my demons. In childhood I knew turmoil and the fear of being sent away, the physical, emotional and sexual abuse. I knew I was the disposable child. I understood I had no worth. So I carried this into adulthood. It was filled with contradictions for I made a secure home and yet never owned more than I could grab to flee with in my car. My spaces are quite empty in my house and clutter makes me uneasy. It is better to only care about a few possessions, for might I not lose it all?
I carry my daughter's childhood in a few of her dresses and a single box of her artwork and momentos. My dogs old name tag and red leather collar. My film cameras are packed in their bag and mentally I practise a list of my favourite clothes so I could pack in a hurry. This is the weight I carry; to travel light.
“Tell your heart that the fear of suffering is worse than the suffering itself, and no heart has ever suffered when it goes in search of its dreams.” – The Alchemist
My dreams and imagination are a refuge and a delight. The quest to let go of trauma began on a yoga mat for me. I read "The Body Keeps the Score" by Van Der Kolk and knew I had so much trapped in my tummy, throat and shoulder. The places had been injured years ago but I was still holding the pain inside and that felt dangerous. So my practice became more somatic and a desire to relinquish the shadows. I began other experiments to heal, visiting a reiki master, a white witch, I learned about tapping and had my cards read, I went back to the witch. I began to visit stone circles. I decided that if somebody offered a healing I would not think or judge; but trust. The healers have poured into my life. I was commissioned by the NHS to photograph surgeons and doctors; serendipity - for I listened to stories from these people about adversity, how they live with it and the effects it can have in our bodies. I felt lighter. I felt a burning need to publish my photo essay, "Shadows" and to tell the story of my father's death.
What if joy was an act of resistance, or the struggle to find peace my life's quest?
I have spent two years capturing portraits of those who have survived domestic abuse. This work is ongoing, yet I need a different space to inhabit, light to balance my shadows. I'm looking for resilience more than anguish. Change may be painful to embrace, a new life takes courage. I know I'm a peaceful warrior and I'm learning my worth.