Review of 2013: The art of love over fear

Here is my reflection on 2013. My review of 2012 was hearty and very in-depth, full of ambition and passion for the year ahead. I wrote passionately about wanting to create provocative artwork that questions many of our views and values, and to be quite frank, I’ve done none of that. Most of my time in 2013 has been spent on producing beautiful images for my Surreal Fashion series, spun off from our series of wonderful fashion shoots in London, NY and LA. In fact this year I think I have shot more beautiful dresses in one space of time than ever before.

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Above is a montage of my favourite 9 from this year, shot in London, LA and New York. This year I made a website especially for this growing series of mine, Surreal Fashion, at www.surrealfashion.co.uk.

This year has been a year of making new life. I became pregnant in Feb and had a beautiful spring and summer dreaming of my child to come. Making beautiful feminine images seemed to go hand in hand with my blissful state of mind, and I loved creating new art knowing I was not alone in my body.

Sadly in September, shortly after returning from LA, I learned some news. My child was not going to live beyond my womb. Because of a rare anomaly, classic Potter Syndrome (no kidneys), my baby was only going to be alive for as long as my body supported them.

I was a weird mixture of determination and devastation whilst I wavered on what to do, and after a couple of weeks I eventually found some peace in the plan of continuing my pregnancy and waiting for my baby to arrive naturally in its own time. I realised that sadness alone wasn’t a cue for medical intervention in my case, given some time to get over the shock.

I spent the next 12 weeks enjoying my baby’s presence and growing strength in the face of their fate. I relished again in nourishing them with every meal, hands always on my belly to feel their rolls and movements. I read them stories, sang to my swaying hips in the shower and even returned to where I’d previously got a prenatal massage, for baby and I to enjoy it once more. Matthew and I kept close, with deep talks, long walks and comfort foods; and kept motivated by embarking on exciting photography plans for 2014. It was not easy at times, it’s surely one of the hardest things a woman could do. I will be here for you all the way, I told my baby, I will see you through. I found myself saying, I’m not afraid, little baby. Duty gave me courage. It echoed the same defiant protection that came from my midwife Virginia, who looked after me like her daughter. In fact, through the experience I learnt a lot about the power of motherly love from women.

Finally at 43 weeks, I delivered our son Evan Gabriel on Wednesday 11th December. In his own home, on our bed where he was conceived, now he was birthed, passing away the moment he arrived. Right in the spot where I’d slept with him for so many nights in my belly, I now held him in my arms, tearlessly at peace and in awe of his presence. I was happy and so relieved. For the worst had already been done – 12 weeks ago when we first got the news. Since then we’d been waiting behind a tall gate, we’d built a strength we didn’t know we had, so this outcome was, in such a sad situation, satisfying. I got the beautiful closure I wanted from a stark, dark horrible situation. By being fearlessly present for our child, by facing and feeling it all, we knew we looked after him all we could. And I’m so grateful in retrospect to myself for doing that, as to have his lifeless body in my arms made me happy that when his heart did beat and his limbs did move, he was freely loved and cared for, frustratingly mysterious behind the flesh curtain of my body.

I’ve written in depth on several flickr posts, chiefly this post about Evan’s birth. I appreciate all the comments and support, I love to hear of others’ stories, but I do not necessarily ask for pity. I seek strength and belief. When I cry for Evan, I cry because I am bursting with love for him.

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2013 has been a monumental year of the yin and yang of everything life has to offer, pleasure and pain in one. The experience of losing my first child has in some ways challenged me to change things, and in other ways, supported my beliefs in life.

Everything I said in the wholesome 2012 review still applies really. The notion of value and being your own brand, living a quality life, paddling your own canoe, using your voice, and determining a life vocation with your photography instead of blindly following the crowd. The Fashion Shoot Experience has certainly become slicker with two great events stateside this year: New York in the Hamptons with which we produced a series on [FRAMED], and a futuristic LA event in Sep which we made sure pushed styling quality over the edge and our bookings for 2014 to saturation. Through the year we also did a number of London shoots. I saw my Kai Face hung in October, shot at Aynhoe Park, shot an extraordinary set-up for HTC in August and secured two further sponsorships with Nikon and with Priolite.

Some of those favourite memories…

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From our NY Fashion Shoot Experience shooting in the Hamptons and making our [FRAMED] series.
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Shooting at Aynhoe Park

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Shooting A Fashion Moment for HTC

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From our LA Fashion Shoot Experience in Bel Air. I spent many hours distracting myself from my woes in October editing that video!

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My piece ‘Kai Face’ hung at Kay Mayfair, London. Watch the video of the installation, and the face itself.

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Feature in Nikon Pro magazine this month, ‘Brave new world’
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This year has taken my love for my partner Matthew to another level. His role in the Shoot Experience makes it what it is, and I love living my life with someone who cares for quality and experience. I love being with someone who can be simultaneously spiritually deep and yet pragmatic. Some people never meet one they can truly call their ‘other half’, so I count myself fortunate.

In the past few difficult weeks as we close off the chapter of 2013, I’ve had conversations with Matthew, with friends, and with other women who have lost loved ones, that blow the mind. I am learning that there is incredible energy to come from the saddest times – when that energy is channelled into something positive, it has the power to change the world. In fact it is these times that define us, they are not times to be brushed under the carpet. Embracing them, we can see more to life than we ever dared try. Energy from pain has historically penned the deepest words, the greatest songs and the most powerful art. Energy that connects people, heightens love and kills fear. You realise, it is suffering that expands us. And expansion is the point of our existence.

I will let 2014 be a continuation, an elevation and emboldening…
 everything we usually do and more, we are planning new exciting events worldwide as well as new projects. After what happened I could go forward more fearful, but I’m buggered if there’s any use in that. Because of the love I felt, and feel, so strongly in my bones for Evan, I will go forward just as fearless as I was before if not more so.

From a painful loss I have gained a gift, from a beautiful, visiting angel soul who taught me what we can achieve when we least thought it possible – the real depth of love, and meaning of strength. I am proud, but not for my ego. I am proud for what I have proved humans can do. We are super humans if we allow it. I’m amazed… still in raw grief, still in tears, I say thank you, Evan…x

Happy new year.

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