Facing my reflection
Today I had what I think they call a Damascus moment. I’m no spring chicken, next year I turn 50, half a blimmin century and I think I’m going to have a Croning ceremony as I embrace my status as an older Feminist woman in our society. But this post isn’t about that. Although it does have something to do with my Feminist stance.
Let me explain…
I grew up believing my ultimate goal as a woman was to grow up and get married. Some day my prince will come… I used to go to sleep as a young girl of 6 or 7 with my hair spread out beautifully on my pillow just in case my prince came in the door at night.
I did grow up and get married, not before having a stint in art school and discovering that I had a talent for drawing and painting. My tutors and colleagues really believed in me. It was a pity that I somehow never shared their belief.
Why didn’t I believe?
I think it was because my mum repeatedly told me that I was not an artist and never would be because I could only copy.
Those words would burn deep into my psyche and end up echoing round my head as an adolescent, then right throughout my adulthood. Until now.
But I’m running before I’ve learned to walk. So I got married and had two beautiful daughters who have now grown up to be wonderful young women, one of whom has a daughter of her own. I’m now a proud grandma.
I’m no longer married. Nobody told me that the Disney princess prophesy ended like this.
But I moved on and I grew. I now don’t believe in marriage. My goals in life have changed. When I grow up I want to be an artist instead.
Well, today I think I grew up.
After spending a day with my eldest artistic daughter at the BP Portrait Awards at the National Portrait Gallery it suddenly struck me. I should have my work on the walls. There was no reason why I couldn’t be amongst this fabulous display of diverse portraiture. What was I waiting for? I had already painted a portrait of a street drinker friend I had made about 10 years ago that I think would be worthy of submission. For over ten years this painting had been rolled up in a corner, hiding. Today I took it out and looked at it with new eyes. The word started to bubble up.
I was waiting to embrace the word. The word that for almost 40 years had felt far too big for me to handle. ARTIST.
It was hard to say. ARTIST. ( You’re not an artist, you can only copy) Shut up mum.
ARTIST. ( You’re not an artist … )
ARTIST. I AM AN ARTIST.
I went around my flat with my little camera, taking photos of myself , not smiling. Not posing. Just being me. Being serious. Taking myself seriously. Just being me, the artist. Not the woman, not the mother, not the children’s entertainer, just me. THE ARTIST.
Then I started to feel like including myself and my work. My flat is full of my work. From painting and drawing to soft sculpture. It is a veritable private temple of my creativity. It’s time to go public and stop being afraid of showing the real me.
So Mum. Now what do you think?
I’m a mother fucking artist.
Yes I am. Oh yes I am.
And today is the beginning of my artist journey as an artist. Not an apologist.
Unlike the adolescent me who had the ability but nothing to say with it, I’ve got so much to say now , it is hard to know where to start.
I’m starting tomorrow. Tomorrow I paint.
I am a woman and I am an artist.