They say Art is open to interpretation. What one person sees, another may not. What one person feels, another may not.
Someone out there looks at a Dali & scoffs at the absurdity. Someone looks & is taken to another universe.
I think that’s why I love art. It’s an escape. Both to create & to view.
I have always been a creator. From very early on I lost myself in sketch books & dioramas, building lady bug habitats or creating secret lagoons for my barbies in our fern gardens. I loved books, & writing stories & poems, watching films & getting lost in music.
And I was probably also always a bit weird.
I was definitely a bit weird.
Most creatives are.
But being lost in the arts, was always far better than reality. So I was happy there.
I also loved wandering off & looking for magic in the bush. Obviously fairies & goblins were hot on my list to spot, but I was always well prepared should an abandoned baby animal of some kind need my help. We had a rotation of baby animals in our home through my childhood, so this wasn’t as ridiculous a fantasy as it sounds. Sadly I never got to play the hero & rescue any joeys or chicks.
But to make it up to me, the universe gifted a perfectly intact cat skeleton.
I collected the bones oh so carefully in a shoe box & tried my hardest to keep them in order. But as happens, they became mixed up & jumbled, like jig saw pieces.
I took it for show & tell.
This coincided with a tough primary school event for me. You know the drill. Your best friends all decide they don’t want to sit with you or even talk to you anymore. Ostracized in the playground & heartbroken. (Little girls can be so mean.) It seems quite trifling now, but pieced together with everything else in my life at the time. It was devastating. (Molls)
Thankfully my teacher was a bloody good one that year, & seen my genuine interest in this fantastic macabre puzzle, & noted the friendship coup.
He sourced me a skeleton stand (where do you even find that pre-internet), helped me find a cat skeleton diagram as instructions of sorts, photocopied it & left me to my own devices with permission to use the classroom store room every lunch time to piece my Kitty back together.
It was a wonderful escape from a painful reality.
Just me & my skeleton.
I never did manage to get it back together perfectly. But gosh I had fun trying, & by the end of that year my world had changed & I had a new, kinder friend group.
That’s just an example of my creative oddness.
You only need to look through my High School Art books & projects to see that I never really strayed from this.
My beautiful Art teacher roasted me years after I graduated, at a school reunion. Awarding me one of my pottery pieces from year 11, imprinted with the grim reaper.
See, this was the running theme for me through high school.
As my reality grew harder & scarier, I retreated further into Art. And my Art retreated further into black.
Everything I did was in black. Or very, very dark Grey.
My work featured dragons & skeletons.
Sadness & death.
And so did my reality.
Life had been tough, but in high school it got tougher.
Much like Art, this view is open to interpretation. The trauma I experienced in my youth, may seem like a walk in the park to some. But to me, living it, was hard. Bloody hard.
And looking back at my Art journals can be disturbing.
I led a pretty wild teen life. Partied every weekend & had a ball breaking the rules all over the place. But I was pretty sad.
And like I said, you just need to look at my Art from that time so see that. To feel that.
This is me in year 11 with a self portrait.
Art was no longer my only escape. By this point I was drinking quite heavily & had a steady smoking habit. Generally pretty self destructive.
Or to be honest, very self destructive.
Pretty dark thoughts had dogged me for many years, sadly since I was a very little girl, which looking back now breaks my heart.
I feel deeply sad for little me.
But after the fallout of losing our surrogate uncle, then Grandfather, then father in very close succession, I was able to see how selfish I’d been in wishing my life away. On wanting escape.
The pain didn’t just ripple out. It was like a nuclear bomb.
And I never wanted to be responsible for that kind of pain.
So instead, I made the conscious decision to run away inside myself.
So began the drinking. Another escape. Definitely not healthy, but temporary, reserved to a night at a time. And hurting no one but me.
I did not like myself. At all.
There’s obviously a lot more to this story, but for the sake of this particular tale, I’ll sum it up. I don’t know what path my life would have taken had I continued on this trail. I saw no proper escape from my sadness, intent on self sabotage. But thankfully, I had Art. Without that healthy outlet, and the consequent support of my Art teachers, I don’t know where I’d be. It was a way of expressing things I could never put into words.
And in the end, the universe once again gifted me.
G1 to be precise.
My life took another major turn & my bad habits & self destructive ways were shelved as I took responsibility for another soul. I had to be the best person I could be because now someone relied on me.
Another very hard chapter don’t get me wrong, but ultimately my savior.
Another cat skeleton.
24 years later I have recreated my emo self portrait from high school.
It’s open to interpretation of course. Like life. But I think the differences are pretty clear.
I hope that any young people, or even any sad people seeing this, can find some hope.
Things get better!
They really do!
Being young is hard. So hard. With or without background trauma, those growing years are tough.
But they are fleeting. In retrospect, a blip on the timeline.
If someone like me, can take my life from black & very very dark grey, to a hundred shades of calming blue. Anyone can!
The universe is always giving us little outs, little gifts, skeletons & kind people, to change us or help us.
You just need to hang in there. Find your healthy escape, keep creating, keep moving forward.
Everything is open to your own interpretation. So no ones knows what you’re seeing or feeling. Only you.
This is why you need to share. Any way you can, allow someone a glimpse inside, allow someone to help.
And try to take hope & learn from others, because odds are, they’ve been there.
Like trying reassemble a cat skeleton, you won’t always get it right, hell you may even glue a shoulder blade to a hip bone, but as long as you keep going, you’ll find the world will change. Your perception, your interpretation, will change.
Keep creating, and when your ready to leave that store room, to leave your escape, you’ll be stronger. You’ll be happier.
Just like me.
Weird old, happy old me.
Making peace with my demons & finally happy in my own skin.