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Sunday, October 30, 2011


I've just done this piece. I have been doing a lot of random drawings lately and this is one which I turned into a pewter piece and stuck it onto one of my brass rubbings. The other is a few blogs down. I now wish I had had the time to do more of the rubbings as I really liked the result.

I will leave the interpretation for you...but my title for it is Conflict

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Tate Modern Gallery, London

This is the Tate Modern. This is the gallery that was on the top of our "must do" list, while in London. It didn't disappoint....well, not in its diversity at any rate....but in not having a few more well known artists.

Be that as it may, it was an eye-opener and we both soooo enjoyed it.

My artist friends have always told me as a 'newbie', that there is no such thing as wrong or right, good or bad art. Art is all about individual expression and creation, no matter what it is. Its a personal journey where creation is as you see it, as you feel it....and then, just maybe, by chance, by good fortune, by talent, something you create may feed anther's psyche in some way. An artists greatest blessing is to have a single person identify with, appreciate and empathize with your innermost being. We all seek like-mindedness. Its where we get our strength. To find a co-joined spirit is what we as human beings, subconsciously, have been seeking for since our first breath...throughout all our life journeys. Art is a need to openly look for validation and recognition of something within us which is shared with another soul. Sometimes we manage, sometimes, we don't.

This is some of Gerhard Richter's work. I don't identify with the end product, but I identify with the creative process... big squares of simple starkness.

Claude Monet...yay!...really excited to see this. One of his better known pieces. Waaay bigger than I expected. The colours are really beautifully used and you can see the sun dancing on the water....but to me, it looked as if he completed his picture, woke up the next morning with an almighty hang-over and lost the plot.

Personally, this did absolutely nothing for me. I learned nothing from this....nothing inspirational that is! Four humungous pieces of red scribble. At this stage, I was wondering what qualifies an art piece the privilege of being allowed to hang up in the Tate...but then, there's also the question without an answer..."What is art??"

Sorry, another really, really bad picture which, hopefully, I can replace when I get one, but this was awesome. Standing in front of this 'half egg' shell, my reflection showed on the top. The artist that created this has obviously got a resonant mind and a truly creative soul..beautifully done, with thought, patience, passion which inspires an observer to WANT to investigate its meaning, method and how it relates to them.

I loved this. I've always been fascinated (and intimidated) by cubism and the ability to create form and shape from it...especially round shapes. His ability to use colour in creating depth is awsome.

I'm going to try cubism one day,...... possibly after a good dose of mountain cabbage or an entire bottle of Constantia port..... not because it speaks to me, but just for the challenge.
Once again, in this picture, I loved how the colors were used so subtly in creating the shape and depth. As with Picasso, there are not many colors used here, but the ones that are used create an almost realistic effect, more so I think, than if done in bright colors. I know that these artists all started off as 'fine' artists...doing realistic pencil sketches, and experimenting with conventional techniques, but how does one morph into this?

I had an absolute O..M..G moment when I walked in and saw this. This is perfection, this is wild, this is brilliant!

I think every single artist should create something that is big, bold, impractical, useless. This stimulated my mind in a way that few art pieces do because of its sheer size and useless, pointless perfection. Pretty much like the Tibetan monks who work on an intricate sand mandala for a whole week, bent over double, in meditation...only to break it up on completion.
So, what will happen to this piece??..It's made from degradable will simply disintegrate..its huge, where could it be used other than at a gallery on exhibition?....who would purchase this? This is art. This is done to feed one's artistic is not timeless and has no real 'worth' other than for the artist and people like me who were smacked in the chest, just by looking at it.

This artist is a realist, although his technique, use of color is leaning towards surrealism...a British born artist that was a predominantly commissioned portrait painter. So, what is he doing in Tate Modern....ummmmmm....dunno....especially not in relation to some of the other literally-off-the-wall stuff which we saw. Still, after seeing a lot of weird and some wonderful art, this was a jolt home for my senses. I love his work.

This circle of stones may look simplistic, and maybe yes, when looking at the great artists and their talent and ability to create something timeless, maybe this can be seen as a total cop-out. It has its own expressive strengths, but I wondered while looking at this. If the building needed to be evacuated through fire, would anyone really be devastated if this wasn't saved??

How's this???....another O...M....G moment....but this twit has made a gazillion teeny-weeny, hand-painted, little life-like sunflower pile up on a gallery floor. I had to contain myself from running full tilt and diving straight into the middle (in which case I would still be in London).

This is complete and utter 'dribble-from-the-mouth' crazy stuff! Apparently, this is only a small portion of what he has made...there's an entire warehouse full somewhere. This didn't get me thinking, this emptied my mind.....out of self preservation!

Maybe he had 'mouse' issues as a child....maybe he's passionate about sunflower seeds, .......maybe he has just completely and utterly lost his mind (under his pile of seeds??)!! Good for him!

Surrealism....finally, after years of painting, I can identify my art-style.......oh, that it was this good!!
But, yes, I'm a surrealist . I loved this so much: the misshapen torso of the pale, skinny white man, grotesque...proudly 'lording' it over his beautiful, perfect black.......(wherever your imagination may take you)lady friend.

An installation piece.........
Absolutely no comment.

Some other art pieces which were interesting:

Loved this!!!!!

The Tate Gallery has some pretty thought-provoking works. A visit is worth every penny, every second, purely because it's art crosses boundaries of convention and allows the mind to extend beyond whats comfortable.

Porto Santo and Fam

Porto Santo is a beautiful little island, 40kms off Madeira...something like 11 kms long and around 6 kms(I think) in breadth. It's a 3 hour relaxing ferry trip to get there.

I remember, when our children were really small, my son, only 18months old, we walked for 9 hours to Font Ariea (a friggin tap for crying out loud), which was on the other end of the island...and we literally saw it all. Things have changed a lot since then. They have built a shopping center, spectacular golf course and have begun planting cypress trees all over the island. As a consequence, yes, the island is looking way greener, but the 'Island of Sun' has now a changing climate, where there is a far greater rainfall....because of the
trees. Hmmmmm

Colleen and Nor, having a laugh at something....but how is this for a beach!!?? Not really much sun on the day, but its just as well. The beach is a 9km stretch of white HOT sand. It can get incredibly hot here in Porto Santo.

Looking at this picture, my heart is so heavy...Lord, how I miss my sister!!! But what a wonderful memory. It was a superb day, lots of laughs.

Noreen has the other picture...we did two..this one...a 'chilled' one, and another, an English-pinkie-up' shot. I still have to download all Nors pics, so will be updating all my posts with these as I get them.

I love this friend of mine. There was not a single day where we weren't laughing and playing the fool. Her happy and free spirit is catchy!

This is a pic of the end of the island, taken from the highest point of Porto Santo. One can see the starkness. Till around 15 years ago, there was little water or greenery. One can still see the abandoned farm terraces where lack of water made it very difficult to produce a good crop...but it was done. Subsistence farming was the only way that these people eked out an existence (and of course, using the only water source...'the tap') since the Days of Christopher Columbus. Madeira is a little Island, but its people, culture, tradition has more heart than the biggest and most economically 'successful' countries. It gets an almighty thumbs up for me.

Here, Nor and Col are havng a chat to Carlos...Lug's brother...overlookng the beaches of Porto Santo.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Scenes of Maderia

This is a picture I took of a little window off a lavada in Funchal. I want to paint this one!!!! There were so many quaint little places to see...the best and only way to see the country is on two feet!

This is one of the many villages that are scattered around Madeira. Houses are built on seemingly ridiculous slopes, the colours are uniform...white walls and red roofs, which makes Madeira...a small island (46x16km) look less cluttered.

A view traveling up towards our hike in Pico do Areeiro. The views were breathtaking! There's contrasts wherever one goes....old and new; extremely high mountains and sudden deep valleys; lush, dense forests and stark, almost arid land; densely populated villages surrounded by terraced farm-lands, the tiny, squat figures of dark-hired, modestly dressed (mostly older) populace and the taller, blond, slim and driven modern Madeirans.

This is my nephew's favorite place to swim in Madeira, Porto Moniz. Rock pools and life-guards that peered over our shoulders as we drew. Not the best weather, but we had a great swim and a wonderful day with two wonderful young people

This is the view that greeted us, driving into Cahleta...Madeira has little villages which all hold their own Fiestas throughout the year. the railings surround a large water-way that comes down from the top of the mountain. All the accumulated water runs down here from the lavada's. During the floods in Funchal, these were so full that water was gushing over the railings...a frightening thought as these are very deep.

This is the view from the balcony outside our bedroom window of my sisters house....Funchal harbour. Wonderful memories!! Noreen, Col and I spent a few nights giggling over glasses of port while watching the sun set. One of the best Christmasses we've ever had, was in place in the world where the essence of Christs' birth is felt, and celebrated. This entire harbour/waterfront area is lit up, Christmas carols are heard, day and night, nativity scenes are in every window, traditional music performed and piped through loud-speakers in the streets, the entire city is lit up..every tree, pole, statue, home and shop glitters with lights, festivals are celebrated, ocean liners fill the harbour, while others wait out at sea. New years eve is an awesome experience, with the best, biggest, longest and most spectacular fire-works display one is ever likely to see ( hell, I sound like a travel agent! :o) )

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

C-PTSD, A friends journey

I have put things on hold for a few days to deal with an issue that has caused misunderstandings, discord, conflict, hurt in a friendship........ and ultimately called for me to find reason, peace and finally, necessary closure.

I have been on a roller-coaster ride with a very precious human being, a dear friend who has been battling with Chronic Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder for years, unbeknown to her , her family or her friends.
She was diagnosed around two months ago....finally...after years of seeing psychologists, psychiatrists, alternative healers, who were obviously all delighted to take her money, seemingly not caring enough to investigate the true cause of her prolonged and worsening emotional state.

When she told me in an email that she had C-PTSD, with the limited time I had, I did a quick Google search to see what it was all about. Old 'Murphy' was active that day and it took me into a site (which I've just found again, "The invention of Post-Traumatic stress disorder and the social usefulness of a psychiatric category" article which basically suggests that PTSD is a sociopolitical disorder with open-ended and unspecific symptoms, its"imprecise in distinguishing between normal distress and the physiology of pathological distress...basically it was an objective diagnosis given to American Vietnam vets.

None of this then made any sense to me and I couldn't equate any of this 'gobbeldygook' to my friend....not the person who I had seen curled up in anguish and sob uncontrollably'. Experts vs experience....what was I to think? What was I to believe now? All I was experiencing was a precious friend who I loved dearly, becoming more and more irrational, emotional, reclusive and draining me of all my resources and energy as a friend, pushing me away then reeling me in, desperately wanting my friendship and support but then cutting me off and out. Nothing was making any sense. Her relationships with all those around her, seemed to be deteriorating rapidly, friends and family alike.

The hurt I felt, became unbearable, my tolerance slowly diminished.

After hours of research, I've come to realize that Caryl has been hurting in a way that cannot be understood by people who have never experienced this disorder......and, unhappily, I am/was one.

Caryl came into my life four years ago, just after she'd published a book on her life as a victim of domestic violence. I was distraught when I read her book! I'd met her once before, while she was still married to her abuser...a horrific relationship which not many people were aware of, least of all me.

I remember thinking at that time, that she had the most beautiful eyes, but they were the saddest that I had ever seen. She was quiet, withdrawn and obviously not too excited at having visitors. Her then husband, was one of those 0ver-the-top attention seeker, a loud, boozy, up-your-nose character that had little respect for people around him..and even less tor the personal space of anything with two 'X' chromosomes! I disliked him from the start.

Our friendship got off to an uncertain start. We first met at a little restaurant at a nearby shopping center and everything about her body language was screaming "I don't trust you, I don't want you near me". I saw a poised but deeply vulnerable, hurting, angry woman that was searching for a way out. I have only just discovered from what!

As her condition worsened, more and more things just seemed to get too much for her...the simple things that you and I take for granted.

Ok, let me do this another journey through her symptoms:

RECURRENT NIGHTMARES: (dissociative reliving of the trauma)
Caryl hasn't had a full nights sleep for as long as I have known her. She had told me about the nightmares, often involving her X, an abusive, narcissistic thug, and that she would often wake up screaming or crying and then continue to do so while awake. This broke my heart as the average person has someone to console them and talk them through it. She never did. I bought her a course of Seratonin, thinking that it would help, and it did...but it didn't either.... it didn't allow her to wake from her nightmares. I remember her often being exhausted and very tense. I remember once we went to stay with an aunt of mine, a beautiful, quiet location, and she decided to have a nap. Her 'nap' turned out to be a 3 hour dead-to-the-world sleep. I remember thinking to myself, this woman is exhausted but somehow, she was in an environment which allowed her to sleep soundly with the door wide open....a strange thing for someone to do who has seen the trauma that she has.


Since I have known Caryl, she has avoided certain places. Shopping centers were simply a no-go area. Movies were out of the question, lunches were often, out in open, separate venues. Often, our outing would be cancelled because she just wasn't in the right space on the day. She tried so hard to do things as a friend...she wanted to, she had always enjoyed it in the past...but now, simply couldn't. I understand that now, but at the time, I would get annoyed that there would be a sudden change of mind or plan, that the entire day would be cancelled, seemingly, without any thought or consideration.
Once, in CT, I had to drop off something at a particular shopping center and she became so distressed that I was concerned that she would have a complete break-down. Her way of trying to manage that intense panic, was to run into a tattoo parlor on the way home, and plan her next tattoo.
I remember once feeling entirely helpless at her distress while we walked through a shopping center for a meeting and she started to shake and cry. There was no way which I could console her and my heart broke.
Music, in a shopping center, car or at home, would cause her to become so distressed and she would begin to cry, not only because of the crippling panic but because she hated feeling so completely controlled by it. She just wanted to do things as a 'normal' person.

Caryl has got the most amazing sense of humor, her laughter resonates everywhere, she loves to laugh, she loves to make people laugh and it has always fascinated me, how people seem to be drawn to her. She's a wonderful artist who teaches art, she so enjoys company...she regularly used to have lunch with a group of ladies and often told me stories of the fun they had. She's a gifted public speaker. She's a solid Christian who practices her beliefs, .......Caryl is a true 'people person' in every way, with so much to share.

Slowly, since meeting her, she has retracted more and more into her own space, where all the things she used to do and enjoy, were stopped. She became reclusive, got utterly distressed at the thought of crowds and people, stopped attending church,...even attending a function with her oldest and dearest friend, became too much for her and she left in tears.
There were many times when I felt that she didn't hear what I was saying to her, my emails were often filled with messages of support and love but often, I felt as if she didn't really care what I was saying or writing or thinking or feeling. And I think, she sometimes really didn't. She couldn't.

In the four years of our friendship, she never remembered my birthday ( I wasn't the only one) , and never joined me in celebrating it when invited to. I would tell her things about my life and family, sometimes personal things which I would never normally share, but found that I often had to repeat my story. I had to be deeply sensitive to her, minute by minute, often preferring to listen than to talk, should I say something to upset her...things which she found funny on one day, offended her on another. She would tell me that she dislikes hugs intensely and then after a few days or weeks, she would tell me how much she did like hugging, and demonstrate that very clearly. Once, visiting her, she remained seated behind her desk for the duration of my visit. Her psychological barrier became physical and I knew then, that I was dealing with something that I didn't understand.

On some days I felt closer to her than a sister and we would end up sharing deeply emotional experiences with each other, we'd cry together and then laugh till we cried.... but on other days, I felt like a burdensome outsider....her walls were up and nothing I did or said seemed to reach her. There were days when I knew that she just couldn't cope with me sharing anything personal with her that could be remotely upsetting. I understood then, that she was just so overloaded with her own hurts.

The biggest challenge for me was trying to determine where she was at, on a day-to-day basis and then respect that space, although throughout, never understanding what, if anything, I was doing to create those swings. I would sms her before calling her just in case she wasn't wanting to take any calls.....I truly mourned the spontaneity of friendship. I missed her.
At the time, it was soul destroying and emotionally exhausting. How is it possible to read a book if one can't even open the cover?.....and her lack of trust ensured that the book stayed shut.

All the while, the wonderful, positive, endearing things about her, nullified the confusion and hurt...I believe the negative things that she was doing were not really part of who she is, but merely a consequence of her past. I couldn't walk away as that would mean I'd become just as much of the 'victim' of her past as she was, that I'd given up on her and the essence of who she really is. The problem was, that human nature is such that, its not possible to constantly hide the hurt, not to become reactive and sucked into fighting back, no matter how much you love the person. My choice to endure eventually became destructive for both her and I. The 'good' choice one makes, is not always the right one.

There were so many things that I just didn't understand. Why, for example, she felt so overwhelmed by a simple basket of food that I had brought her when she moved into her new house...enough for her to tell me to take it away,.... take it back. Simple little things would make her feel so controlled.
Things one does as a friend,..... that I saw my own mother do for hers.....would spiral her into a dark space where she became almost angry and want to shut the doors.. bolt them....then weld the hinges!
The hurt of having love and concern thrown back at me, was terrible. I would often leave in tears not knowing what I had done to receive that reaction....and yet, I would not give up. I loved her. I simply continued to 'be a friend' to her regardless. Wrong move!......but God help me in this, I would do it all again for the very same reasons.


This is how I have always know Caryl. Drawing close then pushing me away. I write a daily journal, and whenever Caryl was in that space, telling me that she's shutting off for a while, that she wants to be alone, I would pen in irritation....'Caryl is in one of her "Za-Za Gabor moods".
Who knows, maybe, unbeknown to the world, Za-Za Gabor also had PTSD....and like the world at large, who speculated and made their own judgments as to the reasons, I believe, so did I about Caryl. I had nothing to go on except that she was simply just having a very bad day....understandably, given her history.

I didn't understand the triggers, if, in fact there was anything I was or wasn't doing to get her into that space. I erroneously took responsibility for something I had no understanding of. I personalized her decisions and behavior.
It wasn't only me that she was cutting herself off from, it seemed to be the world at large! The only people that she wanted to have any contact with, were her family and students.
I couldn't understand why she was so friendly and happily connecting with all her friends on FB when her closest friends were being cut off. I now understand, that it was because the physical distance represented 'safety' for her. They couldn't come in and if they did, it was only through a temporary invite....always at a distance.


The one thing that really used to upset me was when Caryl spoke about not living long...I have always felt that one speaks negativity (or positivity) into ones life.....pre-empting the desired outcome. She used to say that she would not live very long but I loved her and wanted her to want to 'live'.
She often used to say to me that she is taking one day at a time.....but often, those days, were filled with self-destructive behavior, doing her art till all hours of the morning...because she couldn't bear the thought of going to sleep and having nightmares
...working till her neck went into spasm. Not eating properly, not going to the Dr until she was ready to be hospitalized, smoking....just being on her own till her thought and pain of her past envelop her. And all the while, there was nothing that I could do.... the last thing that she wanted, was for me to concern myself. This was her journey, a lonely journey, she was making her choices. She just wanted to be left alone.


Reading through the numerous websites, getting information on this devastating condition has brought me to tears. I have made so many mistakes in my friendship with this dear person. I have inadvertently spiraled her into darker spaces, reacting to these symptoms as an uninformed 'normal' friend, personalizing the hurtful things that I was experiencing through behavior that she honestly had no control of.

The symptoms of C-PTSD are an unearthly hell for the sufferer, in their relationships, their families, their finances, and even for society.

Caryl's past abuse at the hands of step-fathers, friends, family and husbands, can only be described as vile, sickening, and absolutely gut-wrenching. I have failed her as a friend, but only inasmuch that I haven't understood the constant, daily hell that she has had to endure as a consequence of her awful past. I have never failed her because I continue to believe and have faith, that she will recover from this. A chap by the name of Ralph Marston wrote:

"Love challenges you to be who you most authentically are. Love enables you and compells you to find and give the very best that you have. Love is exceedingly difficult and unspeakably beautiful all at once. Live in love and you truly live".

For anyone out there who has a friend with this condition, maybe, hopefully, it will help you not to make the same mistakes I made: i.e. blaming oneself, taking the hurtful responses personalty....and more important....not giving them time and space to heal.

Read Caryl's story. Go and buy her book.

To Caryl........ I love and respect her enough to say:
" I'm so sorry for not understanding. I hear you with my heart. I love you but I need to step back till you are healed and whole and happy. Get better my friend"