In March 2017 I applied to have a solo exhibition at a venue called Wild Canary here in Brisbane. We had just finished a major renovation on our house, online sales were going well, I had signed with a wholesale agent for my prints, and it seemed like a perfect next step in my creative life. I had been concentrating more and more on original works and had let my obsession with all things blue and white take over our house, and my creative life. The renovation and needing some work for the walls had led me to tackle some larger projects artistically and it was a very exciting time, so application was sent off and fingers were crossed... and they said yes.
Much celebration ensued and once the post celebratory headache settled plans were made and all looked rosy. But less than a month after that on the 18th of April everything changed when I was told that not only had my cancer returned after almost 4 years, but also that it had metastasized and after a scary number of scans, test, MRI's and about 50 million blood tests it was deemed incurable which was devastating to say the least. Luckily it was found early due to the close monitoring I was still in after last time and thanks to amazing breakthroughs and improvements it is treatable, so devastation turned to acceptance and a quiet hope that we would adjust to this new way of living quickly. We had discussions with the treatment team to find out what was to come treatment wise, and decided to plough ahead and aim to be ready for the exhibition anyway. I can't tell you how amazing it was to have such thoughtfulness and caring showed by my team and husband and daughter in doing all they could to help me be able to do this... not to mention the support from Wild Canary who did so much to reassure me that they would do all they could to support me. It was very humbling to be surrounded by such a caring community.
I'm going to be honest and say the last year has been tough... the realities of cancer are never pretty and after a small operation to reinsert a port-a cath, 18 rounds of chemo, constant blood tests, scans, MRI's, ultrasounds, constant physio, mouth fungii -I am assuming that is the plural of fungus... could be wrong though - blood clots, lymphedema, crazy numbers of injections, tablets to manage side effects, a hospital stay, cellulitis , a silly number of annoying infections, toenails falling off, others needing to be removed, losing all the hair on my body... again ...and a million other annoying things I am finally out the other side. My life and hairdo may look a bit different, but as with last time I have learned that things are not worse than they used to be, or better, just different and that there is so much joy and fun to be found no matter what you are going through.
Even better is the outcomes that the tumours have shrunk and thanks to a new, but scarily expensive, miracle drug, 11 months after the worst sort of news things are finally looking stable and steady. It's been quite an experience but in among all of that mess I had two things to hang onto... one was the extraordinary support I had enveloping me, my treatment team, my incredible family and amazing friends. The other was the exhibition. Things were often tough, and felt quite grim but the exhibition gave me something to focus on and aim at and I had friends and family rally to do all they could to allow me to paint and work towards that. It meant I had to get out of bed, or off the couch and do something, it meant painting or carving lino even if I didn't feel like it, it meant that there are bigger things than cancer, and that things move on and there can be so much good amongst the tough. I know this exhibition got me through the last year in much better shape than I would have been without it and I was blessed to be able to have it keeping me grounded and in positive territory.
So on the 10th of April when A Kind Of Blue And White Life opens at Wild Canary it will mean so much more to me than the expected thrill of seeing your work on the wall. For me it is about the triumph of creativity over adversity, about not giving in to self pity and keeping going no matter what, its about the support and love of amazing people around me, its about sharing my life and the things I love and putting it out in the world and, being determined to live with cancer on my terms. So I am going to document it all here and will be regularly posting the background and stories behind the work for the duration of the exhibition. So check back and have a read, or even better come and see the exhibition, or maybe join us in celebrating the opening event on the 14th of April.
If you would like to join me at the opening event click on the link below and register... spots are filling fast...