Sunday, 16 January 2022

Art, Addiction and Vegan Sausage Rolls.

The artist in the garden in the rain.  A busy bee.

I finished a portrait for the Addicts exhibition this week, and made several videos about portrait painting in the studio for my Patreon page, had an online book launch for my book As Mother Lay Dying with my friend and colleague Mandy Preece (her book is Being Rock ) and I completed a seven mile walk along the Downs as I have signed up to do another marathon walk of twenty six miles for Macmillan Cancer, in June.

Do you want to be sick yet?  I sound very cheesy.

I did do all of those things, and all within a week, and it was a lot, but it was the result of hours and hours of struggling to even start, and huge amounts of time going into the kitchen to have more tea and my absolute (current) favourite thing, bread and butter.  And of course, most of those things above were finished off this week, begun quite a long time ago, so it is not as if I created and produced and organised an entire portrait, lots of studio videos and a book launch all in one week from scratch while training for my marathon walk.  However, it has been a good week and I am feeling strong and pleased with the portrait, and it did my ego a great deal of good to start this blog with that list, even though it did need explaining.

We all know I spent the Christmas period in bed feeling rotten with the flu (see Not Just Any Illness ). New Year came in over my sleeping head as I was still in bed feeling rotten, and don't remember any of it.  It took a while for my energy to come back and for a couple of weeks I thought I had aged prematurely and would never leap out of bed like a lambkin in the morning ever again.  But here we are, and I don't remember the day when everything shifted back to normal, but it seems I am back on the treadmill of work and creativity and feeling full of beans again.  Though I stopped leaping out of bed like a lambkin a good decade ago so that was never going to be a measure of how ill I felt.  It sounds good, but a more accurate take on feeling I had aged prematurely is to say I thought I would never get myself out of a chair again without a hoist.

My Addicts And Those Who Love Them exhibition opens in five months time.  This exhibition is about addiction, about the craziness of it, the madness, hopelessness and the lack of treatments for it.  The whole title includes the words "behind every addict is someone traumatised by loving them" and as there is addiction in my family, I am that person traumatised by loving an addict.  But, the key word is love, and though it is so hard to cope with a relationship with an addict, those of us who do have relationships with addiction, still love, and despite all the trauma and insanity, we hope.  And there is hope, addicts recover, and miracles do happen.  And so for this exhibition, I am working with addiction in whatever form I can, and asking questions, telling stories and painting portraits. Because I don't know what else I can do.

I am starting to pull all the strings of the exhibition together and not only create all the paintings, but find people with stories to tell through painting and words.  I have done that, I have some very powerful people to work with.  I have children of alcoholic parents to paint.  I have people who work with drugs and addiction through charities, research organisations, and the police involved in the exhibition, and I have addicts who take their drugs and drinkers who drink their alcohol and all of them have much to say.  In my studio, here in Bognor Regis, I make lists on large whiteboards of all the people I am painting and what they say to go onto each painting.  At the beginning of this mega week of getting things done I went into a local store to buy art materials only to find they had hardly any paints.  Obviously I need paints, and was not too impressed with an art supply shop that had hardly any paints, so am now considering a trip to Brighton, a good hour away at least, to Lawrence Art Supplies which I know from old has everything in the world that I want and need.  But, also in Brighton, is a brilliant shop that sells hot flaky vegan sausage rolls, so I think that makes it all OK, for art's sake etc, as it is a bit of a haul to get to Brighton and back.  Also in Brighton is the Fishing Quarter Gallery along the seafront, the venue for the Addicts exhibition later this year, which I may just pop into to remind myself of the space and ambience of the place.  It is such a good gallery, it will be perfect when we open in May and the weather is getting warmer and the light stronger.  I think a trip to Brighton for paints, vegan sausage rolls and checking in with the gallery is becoming more and more important the more I think about it.  I will have a bit of a jolly.



Profess or David Nutt.  I have yet to add his words.

The portrait I have just completed is of the Neuropsychopharmacologist Professor David Nutt.  He is a neuroscientist, a psychiatrist and a pharmacologist, researching with his colleagues at the Drug Science Organisation into the harms and benefits of drugs both legal and illegal, with a view to helping with addiction, alcoholism, depression, PTSD and other conditions of the mind and brain.  I am very glad he has agreed to be in Addicts And Those Who Love Them.  He has much experience of treating addictions and has a great desire to find a way to treat all mental illness and conditions with compassion and the best science and medicine can offer.

I am talking to and painting the portrait of  Fiona Measham, Professor of Criminology, Sociology and Social Policy at Liverpool University and founder of The Loop, a charity that sets itself up at festivals and raves to test the drugs that are in circulation during the events.  The Loop works with events organisers and the police to make sure any contaminated and dangerous drugs that are sold there under the guise of something else are highlighted and information circulated.  Drugs can be taken to the Loop tent and tested, information and help given, and lives saved.  The Loop is interested in harm reduction and education, and there are branches of the Loop opening in various countries in Europe which is a huge success.  What I love about The Loop is that Fiona Measham puts her money where her mouth is, and actually does something to make the insane world of drugs and addiction better, despite all her other commitments.  I am really glad to have her join us for the exhibition.  Another fascinating prospective member of the Addicts exhibition is an ex police man who worked for years undercover infiltrating drugs gangs.  His story is very powerful, and moving, and once he confirms he is happy to be a part of the Addicts exhibition, I will name him.  I am hoping to meet him here in Bognor this week, and am really looking forward to it.  

In May last year at the first showing of the Addicts exhibition I met two amazing young people. Both aged 18, and both dealing with alcoholic and addicted parents.  I am really glad to be painting these two articulate and far too wise young people.  They will add something of a world of which I have no idea nor experience.  And there are other excellent people that I am working with, not least a young Australian nurse, Mae, now a mother herself and the eldest of six children of addicted and alcoholic parents.  Mae was the oldest child, and raised her siblings as best she could in a destructive, dangerous and damaging household until she could leave, taking as many of her siblings with her as could come.  She is very worth listening to, and I have started her portrait today.

In the past, I have used crowd funding to pay for my exhibitions.  Instead of managing a new Go Fund Me campaign each time I host an exhibition (which I have done for two exhibitions on Addiction, and for all my A Graceful Death exhibitions over the last ten or so years) I have decided to ask for more permanent contributions.  Many of you know I have created a Patreon page and am looking for people to subscribe monthly to support the work I am doing.  It goes without saying that I do not charge for anything I do, and I rely on the generosity of the general public to keep it all going.  Patreon, for those who are not familiar with it, is an online subscription platform where creatives of all sorts - art, writing, performance, podcasts, crafts, journalism, music, comedy and so on - ask for monthly donations of about five or ten pounds to support the artist, and in return the artist offers small benefits to the Patrons as a thank you.  This is a safe, effective and ongoing way to support all the work I do on Addiction and, when I host the A Graceful Death exhibition, on the end of life. 


In the video above I explain what the exhibition and my Patreon page is about, and hope that you may consider helping me and this project (and all the projects that I do, including the end of life exhibitions) by becoming a Patron.  Having a look at my page does not commit you, only you signing up commits you and you can cancel at any time though of course, I hope you won't want to because it will be so much fun on my page watching behind the scenes videos, interviews, and updates.  And other small benefits that each Patron receives depending on the tier (amount you pledge).  

Well.  Tomorrow is Monday and a new week ahead.  Will it include flaky vegan sausage rolls?  For the sake of art, yes.  

 

In the name of art.
 

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