Sunday, 29 September 2013

On Filming Mike and Experiencing Dry Ice (but not at the same time)

Well.  If I was to write in the way that I feel these days, there would be no punctuation.  There would be a single long sentence from which not only the full stops and commas would be absent, but towards the end of the page, the spaces in between the words would be absent too.  On the one hand, I am very jolly and in control, and on the other hand, I am feeling slightly breathless that things are moving too fast.  I am wondering if I shall ever see an afternoon lying on the sofa filing my nails and peeling grapes ever again.

I have been aided this week by my very calm and tired new Hungarian lodger.  He has been taken to Mike with MND's house and asked to make a film for me.  "Make it interesting," I said, "I want to use it on Thursday at the next AGD thing at Brighton Uni Med school."  I will never know whether he came because he was unsure that perhaps in order to stay in my house as a lodger, there were certain tasks to complete, like Jason and the Golden Fleece, and he must be prepared at all times to undertake the seemingly impossible. Or that Fate showed him the advert for the room in my house, knowing that deep inside, he had always wanted to make a film with his new camera and tripod, and this was the very house to launch him on his new career.

Mike being filmed by Endre, a Hungarian Martial Arts Expert, who only wanted a quiet life and ended up in my house. 
The film has been done.  The final edit is tomorrow, and it will be shown on Thursday instead of Mike himself.  Mike's condition is deteriorating and he is not able to come in person, which was what we had planned in the Summer. I am quite surprised that I had the audacity to ask a stranger to come and make a film of someone for me, and for that stranger to say yes and then make an excellent film.  After Thursday, I want to put it on our AGD channel on YouTube, and you can all see not only how Mike and his wife Michelle speak of their lives with MND, but you can see the skills of my lodger as a film maker.  I am very grateful to Endre, he has done a wonderful job and I hope that he may do more filming for me, and perhaps remember Mike, Michelle and me when he is in Hollywood.

This is what we are making the film for.  It is open to the public, and is free, but you are asked to book. I will add the link to this page with the booking information below.

A Graceful Death - paintings from the end of life

3 October, 2013     6:00 pm - 8:00 pm

Chowen Lecture Theatre & foyer, Medical Teaching Building, Brighton and Sussex Medical School, Sussex Campus, Falmer - BN1 9PX
In collaboration with LABTEC*
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A Graceful Death started with the death of Antonia Rolls's partner, Steve, in 2007. She painted him to help her find a way through the distress of seeing someone that she loved, fold up and disappear into cancer and death. In 2009 she tentatively staged the first Graceful Death exhibition in her home. There was a mixed reaction; some loved it, and some didn't. The paintings were raw, powerful and moving, showing the human body as the cancer changed it, right up to the hour after death, when all the tension in the body was gone.
The response from this first exhibition led to other people asking if Antonia would paint them, or someone that they knew, who was dying, and so, the Graceful Death exhibition began.
Antonia paints people facing the end of their lives. The idea is to see someone who is dying exactly as they are, changing nothing: the skin colours, the lack of muscle tone, the fragility, the power of life still in the eyes. "When I paint someone, I cut to the chase, dispense with the give and take of a normal social interaction, and ask, "Who are you? What are you saying? How do you approach your death? What is happening?" And people want to tell us the answers. They want to be listened to and most of all, they want to be seen. "
The exhibition highlights dying and death as common, daily, normal and deeply human. Antonia will include much written text and some film in the exhibition, in order to capture words as well as images. The exhibition contains 52 paintings, including poetry donated by the public and written at the Graceful Death Poetry Workshops.
Antonia will be talking about the journey she travels as she paints people nearing the end of their lives or living with complex neurological conditions. She will be joined by Mike Hardy who lives with Motor Neurone Disease and who is featured in the exhibition.

The page link with booking information is here -

There will also be some film of an interview of Julia Wilson, our other MND sitter, taken by my dear colleague and friend, photographer Eileen Rafferty.  Julia died on the 9 August, and was to take part in this event.  I am glad she will be joining us, and we will honour her memory.

AGD Save the dates -

Thursday October 3 - AGD at Brighton Uni Med School, as above.  6 - 8 pm and after the talk till about 10 I expect, milling and chatting as the exhibition will be up in its entirety.

Friday 1, Saturday 2, Sunday 3 November - AGD and Soul Midwifery exhibition in the Unitarian Church in Bridport, Dorset.  Exhibition runs throughout, with concerts, workshops, discussions and endless opportunities to meet the AGD and Soul Midwifery team, and talk about our work.  We are delighted to have Felicity Warner, the author and founder of the Soul Midwife movement to come and talk, and for Soul Midwife teacher and practicioner Mandy Preece, Soul Midwife and musician Lizzie Hornby, and Soul Midwife and Sound Therapist Sarah Weller to come and run workshops and give concerts and inspire you.  All details coming up very soon.

Saturday 16 & Sunday 17 November - a weekend workshop on Sound Healing on day one, astrological readings and healing on day two run by A Graceful Death with my dear friend, Sharon Galliford.  Here is what Sharon says of the Sound Healing workshop -
Sound has a profound effect on our lives impacting and impinging upon everything we do. Even the sound of silence has an important role to play. Sound is a vibration. Everything we see or can sense is a vibration.
Situations in our lives are usually a reflection of something happening in our psyche just as our surroundings have an effect upon our moods and general disposition. Using Sound as a tool we can learn to manage both our internal and external environment to our advantage and for the benefit of those around us. Using very simple yet powerful techniques we can quickly and efficiently find a sense of calm and equilibrium.

Sharon Galliford, a Healer and Sound Therapist, will guide you in this experiential workshop which will be in two parts.
The morning will focus upon the beautiful simplicity of toning and its application for relaxation and healing. The afternoon will introduce sound for chakra balancing and pain relief.
Active participation will enhance your personal experience of sound therapy and equip you with tools to take with you into your everyday life.

A singing voice and musical ability are definitely not required… I have neither myself!

Sharon's one to one soul readings with astrology are very wonderful.  As a healer, all the work that Sharon does is healing, and I loved having my readings done with her.  We will be charging a fee for this weekend, and as ever, there will be much more detail soon.  It will be an inspiring weekend.

Saturday 7 December - AGD presents a Warm Winter Therapy event with my lovely friend Bette Ward.  Cakes by Kirstie's Kitchen (I am addicted to Kirstie's cakes) here in Bognor, with gifts, cards and lovely hand made and crafted items for sale.  Reiki healing healing sessions will be running alongside Bette's sessions, from my studio. 2pm to 8pm, mince pies, snacks, hot drinks and warming Christmas fare all day.  Bette will be providing taster sessions of aromatherapy, hand and foot massage, head and neck massage, and will be soothing us all by her gentle healing presence.  Free, donations to AGD appreciated. All welcome, come and mingle and see what is going on whether you wish to have a session or not. Drop in or stay the whole day. 

And finally

Aged 53 and at last, in a night club with dry ice and laser lights.  My new spiritual home.
I feel I have waited many years to be allowed into a night club like this, with non stop dry ice and laser lights.  I went to Luton with my friend Bette last night and ended up here, and now I am wanting dry ice, laser lights, and 80s and 90s music for AGD.  I fear my boundaries are getting all muddled and I need to re-establish that A Graceful Death is one thing, a night club is entirely another.  I am glad that I didn't know about dry ice before I took Endre to film Mike, it could have been a whole new take on MND.

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