Everything Dies.....

Christianity colourful art death heaven life mortality statement art still life still life painting things that keep you awake

‘Everything dies’ are some of the words in the song of that name, sung out with the unbelievably deep, melancholic, seductive resonance that only Pete Steele, former lead singer of Type O Negative could produce. He too now lies unfortunately dead, which somehow only reiterates the lyrics of the song.
The subject of death is hard, unyielding, emotional, sometimes still taboo, yet it seems to be time for me to tackle it in my paintings. I know that there are many people who will have had far more experience of death in their lives than I have, and yet for some reason it is something that has shaped me profoundly, and lived at the edge of my vision like the shifting spectre that it is. I think that the thread of death has run through my life ever since my first dad died before I was 2. He had Leukemia, and after a long battle, from when I was about 6 months old, he succumbed to death around about his 27th birthday. As a child and pre teen, I developed fears that cancer would be genetic, and I would die from it too, or that my mum would die from something and leave me a biological orphan. In my early high school years I had 10 people in my peer group die from drug related or car related accidents, and also suicide. I can still remember when I was 15, what I was doing, and where, when I heard of my friend’s brother hanging himself at the corner shop. Since then I have lost elderly relatives to old age, other friends to suicide, and myself have attempted suicide twice in my life. I lost my first baby in pregnancy, in a very traumatic way, by giving birth to her tiny dead form in the hospital toilet, only to come home to the large blood stain on the carpet from several hours prior when I’d first started bleeding in miscarriage. Cleaning that up was not the memory I wanted associated with my first pregnancy. Thankfully I gave birth to my other lovely daughter, and with that, death seemed to take on a whole new realm of fear. What if I died, and left my husband a widow with a child. Would the pattern of early biological parent loss continue with my own child? The last several years as I go off to sleep, it’s quite common for me to hear a voice in my head ‘you’re going to die’, and I sit up with a racing heart and sweaty palms. Not exactly conducive to good sleep.
How do you fight an enemy that is the inevitable end to everyone’s life? I find that in my Christianity there is the promise of the afterlife, and I know people who have died on the operating table in hospital, for several minutes, and gone to heaven, and then come back to life again. So personally for me, heaven is a real destination after life, and I’ll meet my relatives and Jesus, and it’ll be pretty sweet by all accounts. Except therein lies the tension. Belief and other people's experiences of heaven versus the uncertainty if it’s all actually for real. Faith in something after death is not for the faint of heart, it is not an easy way of coping as I previously thought before I became a Christian, it takes a big bloody leap of faith, and some days that faith escapes me…. And I fear death. Other days, I look forward to heaven, Jesus, and seeing all my deceased loved ones again.
For now though, I am strong enough, with good support around me, to tackle all these thoughts and paradoxes, without spiralling back into depression about it all. That is what these new series of paintings are about. How many there will be, is, well, how many there will be! I don’t know yet, much like death - I don’t know when, where, how, but I know it will. Everything dies, including me, and I am ok with that.

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