A few years ago I was walking my dog on an ethereal blue May morning. On the fresh westerly wind came the scent of biscuits from the McVitie’s factory in Park Royal. It’s a smell that transports me straight back to the May my five month old baby son, Sorley, and I spent in a mother & baby unit on the industrial estate not far from that factory. The worst tsunami of depression I have ever been hit by had rolled in a couple of months before and we were meant to be moving house. That was simply beyond me. Park Royal became our sanctuary.
Every evening Thomas, my husband, came. We would go for a walk along the canal. Not only were there ducks, geese and moorhens nesting. Cormorants & arctic terns, sea swallows, which by some mistake were summering in not quite the right place, took us with them momentarily to the wild places with which I associate them. Strangely so did the little roundabouts we passed on our walks which some inspired person had planted with small copses of trees that would have really been more at home in a moorland valley. In my mind they became strange little islands like but so very different to the one Sorley & I had found in northwest London.
On that May morning, in the moment, I got on my bicycle and returned to the places I hadn’t been to for 8 years. There were no sea swallows by the canal but the roundabouts were better than I had remembered shedding their blossom in the breeze but bursting with vivid green new life as if for the first and only time.
Some of the pictures in this exhibition are about that day and other days between then and now in North West London where we live. Others are the fruit of return journeys I made to Orkney and North West Donegal. The experience of being alone but well in these places and painting them helped complete circles I can live more comfortably with than the unhealed fractures of before.
Note: Nothing will be sold before the exhibition opens at 6pm on Thursday 19th March
PARK ROYAL AND BEYOND