Friday, 9 February 2018

MAEVE BERRY - Incandescence

Shall I go or not? I was tired and it would be easier not to but I felt I needed a dose of Maeve Berry. Shall I drive or not? I was tired and it would be easier in some ways but I felt a train ride would give me time to doze, to recharge my batteries and appreciate meeting Maeve that much more. I did doze and I alighted at St Leonards Warrior Square and remembered the way down to the sea which had become so familiar when we thought about moving to Hastings in 2010. 

When I reached the front, I crossed the road and watched the cold waves crash onto the pebbled beach and then I saw the Gallery had opened its doors and I waited for some cars to pass and skipped back on to the other side and went in. I had been to the Arts Forum Gallery before when the photograph of me by Julia Horbaschk was included in a group show and I remembered that the standard of work then was high and so it was again. Varied and rich, there is some wonderful work on display.

Maeve wasn't there when I arrived but, a few minutes later, I saw her walk in the door with her husband, Jim, and when she was surrounded immediately by well wishers, I decided to slip into the other room until the throng buzzing around her had dispersed. After a quick whisk around more great pieces of work, I looked back into the other room and caught Jim's eye. He was thrilled to see me as I was to see him and we shook hands warmly and Jim went to find Maeve and the warmth repeated itself in our embrace. Typically, she introduced me to people she knew and whose names I have now forgotten, after which we did some rapid catching up. 

Maeve's work in the show is astonishing. It looked amazing on the wall and beautifully presented. Wonderful burning gold light and strange dark shapes lurching and hunching over what looked like tongues of flame. Then I read the blurb and realised what these images were - incredible photographs of the fires in crematoria. I looked up at them again. I did not feel uncomfortable but more, an admiration for Maeve's bravery in not only taking these pictures but also displaying them. Maeve observes, with sensitivity and care, another part of our existence, the final event of our lives, when we go out in a blaze of glory and why not? 

I chatted to Jim (he chats to everyone) and to some of their friends before I took my leave and walked back to the station. I wrote a poem on the train but then fell asleep listening to the music on my ipod. I thought earlier today that I would probably never be able to dance again but, as I hopped onto the bus at Brighton Station, "Dreamer" by Supertramp came on and I thought of Shawn Sobers filming me dancing to the song and I thought "I can still dance!". That is what a dose of Maeve does - it refreshes and makes you want to dance.

Dreamer, you know you are a dreamer
Well can you put your hands in your head, oh no!....
.....I said "far out, what a day, a year, a life it is!"

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