Ok, so it’s not a Wednesday but I don’t always save appreciation for one day alone… Today I would like to thank an artist and friend for his contribution to my home, and to the, in turn, source of inspiration he has become in my life as a human being and as a writer…
I had attended a workshop… Organised by some cool PE peeps, pioneering individuals, who started – let’s say – a support group of sorts for talented novices and established alike in the Eastern Cape area, Creative X. And at this event, one of these pioneering individuals just happened to be one Christo Noel Booth. We got chatting. I suggested a blog interview sometime. He mentioned an art work he had in mind for me, for my home. I figured, I don’t know, a five-minute sketch of sorts (by no means any less priceless!). But then I was presented with something else entirely. And little did he know how she would resonate with me…
The very first attempt at personal writing I’d ever published was a piece entitled, Learning to Love Life with Bipolar. It had taken me a month’s stay as a ward of the state in a mental home, and two years grappling with this new addition to my identity, to be ready to write that piece. And I wrote. And edited. For four days. Till I had what I felt was the best I could do.
My friend, Clayton Truscott, now living in the states, was my sounding board. He said it was bloody marvellous. Solid job. In him I trust. And if I wanted to get the word out there, he was only too stoked to publish it on his own site, These Walking Blues… But would I like to choose the image to accompany it?
Now, during my stay at the Elizabeth Donkin Mental Hospital, the now rather (in)famous Joff had been a stalwart in my corner. I wanted to choose one of his newer art works as the accompanying image. So Joff and I had a beer one evening as I looked over his work… And there she was… A girl, vulnerable yet stoic, poised with a black bird. He told me she was a figure that returned to him in dreams. She was it.
So when Christo delivered a framed painting of a girl in red – another colour that seems to re-occur in my life (most of my secondhand finds as cars have been ladybug red… and so far have served me well!) – with a black bird… It was like a chance encounter with the girl who had reappeared to Joff… Perhaps she had found me too. She’d just taken on a different form this time. A recurring figure though no less.
Iron-Hand Maiden with Bird by Christo Noel Booth (seen here up close and personal…)
Everyone so far who has visited my home has been smitten (may I say even bewitched?) by this creation of Christo’s, and well, by that rare combination of imagination and craftsmanship.
But I like to visit their studio sometimes, of Christo’s and the rest of the 4 Blind Mice, when I need some respite from my laptop, when I feel I need to be surrounded by art works/-in-progress and their makers. And Christo had mentioned, yet again in passing, that there was another piece he had done, a print, that made him think his art and I suitable for each other.
Weird then, having forgotten our conversation over perhaps a little too much red wine on that particular eve… That I instantly stepped into the studio and queried after this spectacularly bold creation. Apparently she was the print Christo had had in mind for me.
Pink & Yellow by Christo Noel Booth (a newer arrival awaiting framing)
Isn’t it funny how things, how my cats, the art in my home, the books on my shelves…. Inherited costume jewellery… I sometimes feel they have chosen me and not the other way around…?
I read once, and forgive me if I misquote, I don’t always have my notebook at the ready when I need it… But that art cannot be ‘good’ or ‘bad’. It can either make us feel something. Or at worst, feel nothing.
So, to Christo Noel Booth. A final word of thanks.
For two years, while adjusting to my medication for bipolar disorder, I felt little to nothing a great deal of the time. Now I wake to a beautiful home and meaningful work, and your art is a part of that. It makes me feel something everyday. And mostly, it has the strange but reassuring habit of making me feel empowered.
Iron-hand Maiden with Bird by Christo Noel Booth (in her natural environment, close enough for comfort…)