I drank too much. Like many people, when I’m nervous, I drink. Just like on opening night of Dry Your Tears at Stur Gallery. If you popped in and I blithered at you, please forgive my nervy, rambunctious, crazed-faced bewilderment.
In the fog of booze, I did have a little eureka moment. Standing there, I was surrounded by all these deeply personal experiences from my childhood, acted out by little toys, dolls and teddy bears.
I always thought they were my stories – my feelings of isolation, shame and joy. What I realised was that childhood is a shared experience and many of those things we go through, hundreds of other children have gone through exactly the same thing. My art became a vessel for people to share their stories.
Put up your hands if you pooped in the bath? How about being tricked by your brother to strip to your underpants? What about hiding under the kitchen table when you were scared to death?
For me, Wash Day (above) was about loneliness as a child, being left off your parent’s radar. Yet for other people, it brought up crazy tales of washing being sewed onto the clothes line because their dad couldn’t find any clothes pegs.
This one, called Kitchen Refuge, for me is about hiding under the kitchen table after school when a friend’s big brothers came home. I remember their long legs striding by in grey trousers and I just didn’t want them to see me. Yet for others, it was about the fear of haircuts and not wanting their hair to be touched.
I loved that the artworks became vessels for people’s childhood experiences, that the works evoke different reactions for different people. For me, some of the works are too personal even to speak about now. I can’t reveal their truth but I am thrilled for others to fill the pictures with their own tales, their own experiences.
Has this ever happened to you? Have you had works that have been imbued with new meaning? Or have you seen works that mean more to you because they have a special place in your soul. I’d love to hear about them.