The colour turquoise
The embers flew from the loose threads of my coat, as I danced around the campfire, blissfully unaware I was alight. Dusk was upon us and yet again it was time to dream of deer leaping circus tents amidst a sea of purple grass. But I an adventurous pensioner refused to go to bed. The electric heater in my room could not compare with the wild fox tails entwining and elapsing in the wind, and who knew if I would ever be allowed to grace the spirit’s presence again. Or would I too elapse before our stories could yet again intertwine.
Back home in my broken armchair I contemplated life and the changing of seasons; the seasons of life. As a child I bounded through the innocence of spring; grass stains and butterfly wings tarnished my once white coat. Across the ocean of summer, I swam; deep and diverse, a place of great discovery and conflicting waves of emotion, swallowing salt water is the catch of air. Although the ocean is vast it is not endless. Now is the time to say goodbye to autumn I cannot hold on to these leaves forever each holds a map of my life, which shares my story to the wind. The lonely blanket of winter will hide my existence with its beauty shrouding you so it is easier to forget.
The following morning, I sat in a café waiting for my daughter to accompany me to the doctors for a check-up. The rickety old table I had chosen appeared to be feeling sorry for itself. Tilting downwards on one side it caused my tea to slope diagonally in the cup. “Excuse me sir could I please have a” silence, I freeze the word seemed foreign to my tongue, it bit at my temple leaving me alone in the crowd. I lacked the nameless object to stir my tea and the nameless face stared through me. I shrank into a childish withdrawal my independence stripped bare; shielding myself behind my newspaper I revisit the words on the paper. I pretend he didn’t hear my words die off mid-sentence. His footsteps drew near and with one word softly spoken he saved me from my disconnectedness. “Spoon?” I lowered the paper and smiled nervously with relief written across my face. The bell rang above door behind the young man, as Laura came through. He glanced behind, then turned back to me and gave me a crocked smile as he left my table. I collected my things unknowingly knocking to the floor my wristwatch; given to me by my late husband. And with that simple movement it escaped me and was no longer my possession.
We walked together in the soft breeze of spring air to the doctor’s surgery and then parted company for 20 minutes for my check-up. I returned to the waiting room to find Laura with her head in a novel patiently waiting for any news on my return.
“I have Alzheimer’s”, the words are hard to speak to those who do not truly understand the death sentence.
A few months passed, those around me had taken the news rather lightly. It wasn’t for lack of caring, but merely because it was viewed in the same way as the common cold. It seemed almost a forgotten fact of life. But I could not stop my mind wondering back to the doctor’s explanations, while I sat weaving. I watched the wool fray and form piles of discarded fluff around my slippers; resembling the plaques tangling up together in my brain. I was depressing myself again as I always did when sat in that chair so I thought it time to go take in some fresh air.
The glasses shattered under the weight of my elbow as I tried to push myself awkwardly up out of my seat. Clumsiness was my least favourite pastime, I got to my feet and picked up the broken pieces to discard them and continue on my mission of clarity, obtainable only through being outside. On the doorstep I was meet my boyfriend, a short man with a sizeable belly, but owner to a lovely fur coat. He waddled past me into the kitchen and demanded food so I gave him a friendly kick in the ass, causing him to scamper off on his four podgy legs. The garden was alive with summer flowers so I stood and watched the butterflies play as the clouded rolled over. After several minutes I decided I wanted to continue my book so I wondered back into the house in search of my glasses. I had lost then again for the fifth time that week. So I rang Laura, she always seemed to know where to find lost objects and only lived five minutes away. Within two minutes of entering the house she had located the glasses. In the bin. I had completely forgotten about breaking then only an hour earlier, embarrassed I hid myself in the kitchen and made tea and fed his royal highness a tin of tuna.
As the hours passed the loss of glasses became apparent as objects began to multiplied before my eyes. Holding one eye shut to correct the double vision I became a pirate. Later I would Fully embrace the part with a piece of black card fastened in my broken frame. Laura placed an assortment of packed seeds on my lap as I sipped my tea precariously, from the shaking cup. I had been a florist in my working day, and my flourishing garden was evidence enough that i had learn a trick or two in my time. Laura on the other hand, had not learnt a damn thing from all the hours I spent in the garden with her as a child. And this was the seed that would grow into a very juvenile argument.
She slammed the door behind her; she was still the child who did not want to learn.
Looking back on it I should not have provoked her by reminding her of this fact. Instead I should have gracefully shared my wisdom. Like the autumn trees I had worked for these leaves and I was reluctant to lose them. The following week unable to drive I sat in the passenger seat as Laura reluctantly drove me to the opticians. With a throat full of cold and ears of old age, left with double vision, I became a monkey in the world detached from evil. But I was not free from evil; it ate away at my brain, leaving me as a monkey in a wrinkled cage.
Several months over a year had passed and my worries had shifted from misplacement of marbles. Now; days, objects and people stood alone without labels. At 5am I woke up, after a dreamless night, which was oddly a refreshing change from the usual. I dreamt of toast most nights, toast was a part of the daily routine. And although I imagined myself a flame it was still my job to turn the soft, fresh, white bread a crisp golden brown. With no sleeping pattern, I often enjoyed long naps in the sunshine that shone through the window.
It just so happened to be one of those occasions, when a knock came at the door, awakening me. An old friend, whose name has slipped my mind, came around to suggest we take a trip to my favourite café. Which I was in no way opposed to so we arranged to meet at 3 which gave me plenty of time to get dressed up very presentable; I wore my pyjamas.
I slid the slippers on my feet and headed out the door, they were not ideal for the twenty-minute walk but logic was no longer one of my characteristics. It was not until one of my neighbours pointed out the mistake, that I realised anything was wrong and my god did I turn an unflattering shade of crimson. I shuffled back into the house as quickly as I could and bolted the door closed behind me.
Panting I leant against the door it creaked under the weight of my withering body. Rattled by my mistake I set about correcting myself, taking the steps one at a time as I climbed the stairs without ease, to the bedroom. Carefully placing the skirt and blouse on the bed to change into to. I needed to calm myself and regain my sanity by distancing myself from the reality of the situation. So picking up my book I Immersing my thoughts and forgot about time itself, becoming lost to this world, the book was the real story and this house the lie. I feared the emptiness that surrounded me, I wouldn’t, couldn’t raise my head to look away from its pages. As my whereabouts were left unknown, my friend sipped her tea alone as mine sat beside her forgotten and unloved.
It changed into autumn; more years had flown to the winds, which now tasselled the white hair that, once was golden. Longing for your return, I watched from the open window, the trees of orange and red, as the memories flew out of my head. But instead another met me; a wolf in lambs clothing, dark like cancer. It came into my house hidden in my daughter’s eye the magpie of this world, bringer of empty promises and taker of jewellery.
These were what I call ‘my second teenage years’. as with childhood comes complete freedom and I was more a grumpy rebel. Meaning demands and crying pleads like hormonal mood swings, resulted in being heavily medicated with three hot water bottles, not too dissimilar to the cure for a hangover. I often laid there half asleep, half not caring what was being said to me; supposedly listening to how much danger I put myself in, along with how worried you were, while the half that was asleep, was encapsulated in the tales of tails which once brought me such joy and now only served as a painful remind of what would come to last. Cremation would be my means to pass.
I moved away from the window and Collapsed haphazardly into my seat and picked up my book “the rose on fire” and stared at the pages my eyes were no more for reading but I knew this story from memory as I had read it many times over since childhood and it was locked away safe as a part of me; my personal history. Uncomfortably I held my knees together as if on a long car ride, my bladder twisted and cried out in rumbles across my innards’ the need to pee won out, so I pressed the button on the sofa arm, which let out the noise of a bell, my voice was no longer strong enough for my usual scream and in she came to help me relive my pain on the commode.
A grey-faced cat comforted me rubbing his head up against my knees as my skirt rested around my ankles. Causing a tear to ran down a river in my smile lines, I clenched my eyes tight, to stifle its journey, I was a strong willed, dignified woman regardless of my toilet habits.
I really did love her company and it wasn’t embarrassing to ask her for help, she was my light in an otherwise bleak existence and that alone made me smile. I felt lost but the spirits had sent me an angel to watch over me. But lovely as she was she kept calling me mother, I wasn’t her mother. I wanted her so much to be my daughter, but I hated her guts for lying to me like that. Torture is this conflict in my brain, just leave me in the cold and wait until the snow covers me up.
Winter had not yet arrived so my wish would go unfulfilled. Instead I stay in your company magpie and attempted to recite the words back to you; apple, table…the penny rolled off the table and under the sofa where it rested out of sight out of mind. And then I took the pencil and drew the endless clock, spiralling around its self until the paper ended.
Father watched me smiling as I leapt through the air, above the spring grass splashing down in muddy puddles as my wellies reunited with the earth; I was an elegant deer full of poise and grace. I beamed a tooth filled smile back at him and then turned sharply, with one of my mittened hands I held the arm of ragdoll Jessica which left me ill prepared to brace myself from the impact to the floor as I fell. Golden hair turned silver an lay reddened as tears rushed down my face alone I cried out the words “I want to go home, take me home, I’ve got to go home” on the floor of a bedroom which I knew to be mine but could not recognise. Dazed and confused as a lost five-year-old I clambered into the bed forcing my eyes shut to shelter from this nightmare.
The old house in which I woke was eerily quiet until the soft melody of the angel white dove’s voice broke the silence as she held out a mug of warmth. Hesitantly I took it with shaking handed which lead to noise sipping. She rested beside me at eye level crouching with an open heart. The ability to smile and converse forgotten, so I blankly started at her hoping my blue eyes turned turquoise held the message ‘lead me home’. I want everything back as it was, I want my life back, I want to be the girl I once knew. I long for my mother’s gentle touch braiding my hair. Darkness scorched the dove’s feathers and the magpie stood in place, in its talons I was moved from my nest. Dressed, bathed and brushed, bruised and broken the pain resonated out from my wrist consuming my entire body. Shivers ran wild, as limbs lay limp pulled and twisted into new garments. I withdrew myself like a hedgehog in the foetal position; leaving a rigid body difficult to manoeuvre laced with sharp spins of bitter words. I stuttered out profanities at your concerned frustration. I do not
know your words, I do not know my own. The fear is vented as anger out my mouth, in inconsistent irrelevant phrased, disconnected thoughts that used to be kept inside flood out uncontrollably.
Once prepped for the day I was sat in front of the TV, nine years after my diagnosis I watched the weather forecast predict snow.
With a blink of darkness, I found myself lost in a place called home. Forgetting the house’s story entirely as if a child left in a new place then, like the returning tide I was drawn back to the comfort of soothing pink. Staring into the flames of electric fire I feel myself in a state of constant departure while always arriving. My dove returned to my side and tried to feed me; her chick, with bottle of unsweetened strawberry smoothie. I took a final sip and then I mastered the courage to say the words “please, no more, no more, I want to fly.” For without your permission my fear is greater than my will to fly. I felt her heart sink though the expression I saw on her face, she looked at me though teared eyes and with a weak smile nodded and took me in her arms and embraced me, before she left silently to console herself. In her absence I take my book and stared at the blank pages at the back of it remembering the words;
‘the tree of tears stands alone unloved but in winter winds a blanket of white shrouds it and takes its sorrows away’.
Taking a pen, I scribble in the corner of the page until the ink runs freely and write
I wish not to acknowledge any words to be my last, so I use my last strength to give you something written, which will not be lost in memory; I love you my angel, I love you my dove.”
Why i wrote is story:
At the start of this project I set out to create a photographically illustrated book, on the topic of Alzheimer’s and create an abstract documentary story to help young teenagers and adults come to terms with the effects of Alzheimer’s in a non-textbook format. Later I happened across a very similar concept in the form of a poetry book called ‘searching for Cecy by Judy Prescott in which she uses her poetry to come to terms with the effects Alzheimer’s takes on her mother’s personality and body, the book is illustrated with illustration created from within her family.
As I researched the psychology of photography in relation to grief I became fascinated with ‘phototherapy’, ‘therapeutic photography’ and ‘photo art therapy’. I purchased the book ‘phototherapy’ and therapeutic photography in a digital age’ edited by Del Loewenthal. Shortly after attending two lectures at creative futures book. The first ‘HEART’ hosted by Melanie Hani where she talked about her in animation-attachment helping people with attachment disorders. And the second by Adam lee who spoke about ‘participatory photography’ also know as ‘photovoice’. Both of which confirmed I was on the right track with my ideas. Both of these methods involve teaching how to photograph and touching the participants work only giving them the means to create art, this transpired into my work in the form of only photographing what existed there in front of me and not altering the positions of objects.
From my book purchase I learnt many invaluable facts about artists working in the field.
One of which is the story of Jo Spencer and her fight with breast cancer as a professional photographer before she became ill, she tried to heal herself through her art. “so she set about creating the first of her ‘visual illness diary’ and from the beginning created photographs not only for her own immediate use as self-therapy and personal documentation, but also consciously constructed for future use as critical campaign material for women’s and disability movements as well.”(loewenthal)
This directly influenced my project as I was trying to create the reverse of her diary. I initially wanted to help others but almost by accident I found the experience as very self-therapeutic. Spencer’s illness diary also tackles with a very difficult subject matter one in which she personally must battle.
Of course it was not only therapeutic usage of photography which influenced me one of the major contributions came in the form of a YouTube channel called ‘BHPhotoVideoProAudio’ which hosts a sea the photographic lectures
One of the most influential came from; Cig Harvey and her photographic work in one room over 3 months. she acted as though the room was new like a tourist investigating a place for the first time. She is also a very strong believer in using props, which she owned/owns or using an object which held a story which needed to be told. Personal objects where something had happened to her not just a bought item from an antics store.
These two ideas both resonate into my work as I used my nans house as a place to explore the past and use her personal objects to emotionally connect myself back to her.
“Who are you making your work for?”- (Harvey 2013) she was making her work for someone who would never see it and I believe that in a way I too am on the same journey.
http://www.flipsnack.com/9FCE8697C6F/fh9y14r4 read my book online
there should be 28 pages if not refresh link and they should load
part 2 of book: