Lost and Found
Lost and Found is a collection of work about losing hope through grief, and finding it again.
Nothing is certain. Once you know that, truly know it, hope becomes an elusive thing. But without hope, life is unbearable. So you build it back up on tiny things – a smile, an uneventful night, a rising sun. You build it on germinating seeds, flowering bulbs, a phone call from an old friend. A warm day, a beer in the garden. Day by day, an accumulation of hope, maybe you’ll stop counting the days. Maybe certainty will cease to matter. Maybe it’s just about gathering the joy together and holding on to it.
The exhibition of 24 stitched pieces will be on display from 23rd February - 5th April at Headingley Enterprise and Arts Centre, Bennett Road, Leeds LS6 3HN
Open to the public Monday to Saturday, the exhibition will be in the ground floor corridor. For further details of how to get there see my events page here. There is Blue Badge parking at the venue, and level access throughout the exhibition space.
Sometimes there just aren't the words. Or the words are too hard or too raw or too complicated to speak. Art can say the things that words can't. That’s why I stitch. Or at least, why I stitched this collection.
In 2018 my husband was diagnosed with terminal cancer. We were told he’d be lucky to see out the year. He was offered chemotherapy, that may or may not buy him some time. We didn’t know whether to be hopeful or not. The chemotherapy nearly killed him. I sat with him on the sofa, in chemotherapy wards, in doctors’ appointments, for months. Our world shrank to those places. That’s all we did. We just existed.
I was stuck in this deep, complicated, confusing and very depressed place where I couldn't see a future, and the past was too upsetting and the present was just awful, and all I could do was just count off the days. Tick them off, and say OK that one was awful, or right that was manageable. And so that went on for a really long time.
Gradually he recovered from the chemotherapy, and he continues to outlive the expectations of his consultants. We’ve been given time we never thought we had. But sometimes I feel like I'm still stuck in that place, and I know for certain that there'll be a time when I return to that place. I still have to take each day one day at a time, and appreciate the good things, because I can't waste them all, going ah it doesn't matter, there's better times ahead, because actually there's worse times ahead, so I have to remind myself that right now at this moment life isn't too bad, some days I enjoy life even.
It's frightening, and it's really hard because we're still counting- wondering whether we have a future, counting the days to the next scan, the next check up. Trying not to think about it. Trying to ignore the big elephant in the room, the big cancer in the room, for long enough to enjoy the day. And make plans.
People have asked me if there's really 365 lines in the piece 365 days. Yes there are. And do they represent the days as they happened? Yes they do. And did you do them as you were experiencing them? No I didn't. But I did record the days, and the piece is an authentic record of that year. And yes the orange lines represent the better days. And yes, I know what those days were and why they were better. Sometimes it was just a nurse visiting and making us laugh. Sometimes it was a friend taking me for coffee. Some of them were days when we got married, days when we managed a holiday.
Counting Not Counting
You know, when you are caring so intensely for someone you love so much, and you're frightened, and you're in this hole of despair, sometimes all you do is count. And you know you shouldn't because you don't want it to be over, because it being over means it's all over. And sometimes it's just so boring. Really boring. Your world shrinks and in between the doing, there's just sitting and waiting. So you count. And all the time you don't really want to count. But you do. And still now we count - we count the extra months and years we've had, and we count the weeks to the next scan and the next consultant appointment. And the thing we really can't count on is the future.