Saturday, 25 July 2009

My brother, Stu

My younger brother, Stu died from cancer recently on April 30th. He was aged 36 and had been diagnosed nearly two years ago. I’ve not mentioned it previously on the blog as it has seemed too personal, and painful, to share (and we seem to be in a culture I naturally shy away from where everybody seems happy to lay bare there entire lives using the modern media available), but as time has gone it has seemed increasingly slightly disingenuous not to mention it directly. One of the main reasons being that this is a blog mainly about my work as an artist, and nothing has affected me so profoundly as this event . As time has gone on it has been more and more difficult not to mention it in relation to things going on in my life. All my work over the last few months, particularly since November 2008 when his condition worsened, has in one way or another been about him and my feelings surrounding his illness and now loss. Painting has been a way to explore feelings and events that have seemed beyond words.

Anyway, next Sunday August 2nd I’m running in the ‘Stu Morris Fun Run’ at Sandwell Valley. It’s a 5k run organised by Stu’s former work colleagues to raise money for The Willow Foundation, a cancer charity that supports families and individuals living with cancer by creating ‘special days’ or holiday breaks, or helping people fulfil an ambition of some kind. Stu and his wife Emma, and their three year old son, Brody were helped by the charity in January 2009, when they helped pay for a holiday in Scotland. I’ve raised quite alot of money already from friends and work colleagues who have been overwhelmingly supportive, but I thought it only right to have a last push for any more sponsors through my website where you can make online donations if you follow the link below:

Art and artists can offer great comfort on difficult times. I’ve found comfort in lots of things lately, but particularly poetry. Poetry, more than any other art form, has a wonderful way of offering great and concise clarity to very complex feelings which are hard to articulate in any other way. I recently discovered the brilliant work of Scottish poet, Jackie Kay. She was featured on the BBC’s excellent recent ‘My Life In Verse’ where she read out the poem below about a friend who had recently died of cancer. It moved me immensely, and articulated so much I could not. I thought it would be nice to share it in this blog. Below it is one of my new paintings, too.

You might forget the exact sound of her voice
or how her face looked when sleeping.
You might forget the sound of her quiet weeping
curled into the shape of a half moon,

when smaller than her self, she seemed already to be leaving
before she left, when the blossom was on the trees
and the sun was out, and all seemed good in the world.
I held her hand and sang a song from when I was a girl -

Heel y’ho boys, let her go boys –
And when I stopped singing she had slipped away,
Already a slip of a girl again, skipping off,
her heart light, her face almost smiling.

And what I didn’t know or couldn’t say then
was that she hadn’t really gone.
The dead don’t go till you do, loved ones.
The dead are still here holding our hands.

Jackie Kay

'Going Home' oil on canvas, 45 x 120cms, 2009

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