The past several years have been so difficult and, throughout, I pressed on regardless trying to balance the difficulties with creativity until it all just became too much to cope with and I so badly needed to hide away for a while.
The truth is that I was caring for the love of my life, until he passed away less than a year ago. Just writing this, I am in floods of tears. He was truly my very best friend, my love, my husband and I am beside myself with grief still. We went through his cancer diagnosis together hand in hand for four and a half years. Throughout his treatment, he was so very brave, pragmatic and strong. He was such an inspiration to me in every aspect of our life and I am so very grateful to have had him in my life for as long as we were together. We truly loved each other. I love him with all my heart still and I always will.
We never discussed the inevitable course his illness would take, instead we both slowly adjusted to a different life, a life with many limitations, a day at a time. Eventually, my own health began to suffer and I was diagnosed with a very strange, rare and serious auto immune illness. My health never quite recovered and in 2018 I was diagnosed with breast cancer while my husband was in the final stage of his illness. It was a very tough, emotional time. I had my surgery, but my radiotherapy had to be delayed as shortly afterwards my darling husband passed away.
I'm doing ok with the breast cancer. I recently had my one year check and so far so good with that side of things. In January I developed lymphedema, a complication that arose as a result of my surgery and radiotherapy. I now attend a specialist lymphedema clinic and I'm learning to manage it with special exercises twice daily. It's a small intrusion into the day and, sadly, a constant reminder of what I've been through, but other than that I'm doing ok with that as well.
I've taken all the time I've needed to get to this stage. As each week has passed I've felt a little closer to getting back to my art work. During the past year I've dabbled. I've been in my studio every day, I've re-arranged my art supplies, I've been collecting sewing patterns, buying fabrics, started dress-making again after 40 years. I've looked through old sketchbooks, been on a few workshops and been out and about in Cornwall with my camera. Recently, I had my first holiday away from Cornwall in 9 years. I went to Norfolk, to Wells-next-the-Sea, as I was very fortunate to get a place on Debbie Lyddon's first ever 2-day studio workshop. I went with my sister and we had a fantastic time. It was just what I needed, and getting away helped me gain so much perspective and a fresh desire to work again.
So, I'm starting part time in my studio, working in a small way. It's very important to me that I maintain the peace and balance that I have worked so hard to find, and to build up slowly. Yesterday, I went in, sat down and photographed the lovely things that had piled up on my desk and then I moved them to one side to begin.
There is so much I want to revisit. I want to continue on with the Surface Treatment Workshop and the Collage Workshop that I was doing last year. I have a piece to make for a community project in St. Ives (more on that another time). I would love to get back to my textiles, stitched and embroidered things, paintings, collages, hand made cards and photography. So many sketchbooks to share from the workshops I attended (Debbie Lyddon's workshop as well as indigo dyeing, cyanotypes, rust dyeing, natural and botanical dyeing, erosion projects, making paints with earth pigments and experiments with wax, plaster modelling and photography).
I was also very grateful for the invitation to make work for Anne Kelly's book "Textile Folk Art" last year. I will share more about that in a separate post quite soon. Also, a fabulous opportunity to be invited by Lynda Monk to make work for Maggie Grey's textile book WOW Book 4 which I think is due out soon, in June. So that will be a very exciting share too.
I have to rest a lot more now, so two or three days in the studio at the moment is just fine. I'll see how I go, build up slowly, enjoy the process of creating things I love and offer pieces for sale from time to time. Many thanks for reading and very best wishes to you all.
happy are those conscious of their spiritual need
~ Matthew 5:3 ~