Mediation – 108 breaths
Running – None
I’m not an art lover. I once queued up for 30 minutes to go into the Louvre in Paris, which contains over 35,000 pieces. I paid my money, found the Mona Lisa, thought ‘that’s small’, and then left. Of course, when I returned home my stock answer to the question “How was Paris” was that it was great, I’d seen the Mona Lisa.
As I’ve grown older, I have learnt to appreciate artistic creations a little more, but I always struggle to devote the requited amount of attention towards what i’m looking at in order to create an understanding of it.
In mid March I was working in Basingtoke, the beast from the east had returned, and everything outside was covered in 6 inches of snow. I walked through the shopping centre, in a vain attempt to calm my mind by immersing myself in consumerism. If I had those trainers, I’d be happier.
As I aimlessly wondered through, I came across a small art gallery. I walked in, and began to mindfully look at the paintings covering the right hand wall. 30 seconds later I heard a loud “Hello” from across the gallery. It was the curator. I turned and smiled at him. Whilst I was still physically looking at the paintings, my mind had now gone somewhere else, and it was ordering my body to go with it.
“Shit, he knows you can’t afford any of this stuff, you’re interrupting his coffee, you don’t know anything about art. If he asks you a question you won’t be able to answer it, and he’ll think you’re stupid. You are stupid. You need to leave.”
My right shoulder dipped, my left leg crossed my right, and I began to obey my madness by making an exit. As I approached the door, I looked up and to the right, and was suddenly met by the feeling that i’d be hit round the face by a baseball bat. I’d seen this.
25 square feet, of beautiful madness, and outrageous bravery. Unlike the others, this piece takes no effort or attention to be understood. The whole world has stopped. I am completely consumed by it.
As I begin to again become aware of where I am, I notice the sound of footsteps. It’s the curator, and now he’s walking over. The same curator I was terrified of only seconds ago. This time my mind is not telling me to leave, because it’s no longer scared. My mind is now telling me that I am not alone. It’s telling me that the creator of this masterpiece is standing by me, holding my hand, and together we can answer any questions, because together we outnumber him.
‘Inhale’ was created by Laura Greenway. I’ve never met Laura, and 3 days ago I didn’t even know her name.
This piece of art had such a profound effect on me, that I decided to track down the gallery, then her, and get permission to share my experience, and most importantly, allow others to have a glimpse her mind. It took me 2 days to find her, and it was worth every minute of it.
Laura has severe Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, Depression, Psychosis, and Generalised Anxiety Disorder. ‘Inhale’ was created in 2 hours in front of a live audience, she was literally writing what she was thinking, word for word. As the thoughts became charcoal marks on the paper, they lost their power. Of course, once the piece was complete and everyone had gone home, her mind carried on with it’s performance. Just like everyday.
Several weeks later, again in front of a live audience, Laura turned ‘Inhale’ into ‘Exhale’ by destroying it. She spent another 2 hours trying to erase the text, just like she tries to erase the thoughts from her mind on a daily bases. Even though the text was no longer legible, the white paper was still covered in black smudges, symbolic of the scars any mental health issue can leave, especially one that isn’t spoken about.
I greatly admire Laura, both as a person and as an artist. Just like most people, there are parts of her thinking patterns I identify with, and parts that are very alien to me. I think the main crossover is that we both understand how destructive suffering in silence can be, for both ourselves and those closest to us. Together we stand.
For anyone wishing to see ‘Exhale’ along with many other incredible creations, visit http://www.lauragreenwayart.com
Comments welcome below.