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Learning from the Past

With a little help from William Blake & Elaine Cusack



During mid to late 2018 I realised I needed to revisit my traumatic past in London if I was to continue to make major inroads into my #recovery from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder after my therapy had finished. Realising this and doing it are two very different things. I did eventually come to the end of my #therapy in May 2019, but in a way it was only the end of the relationship with my therapist, as my therapy continues without her, albeit using slightly different methods now, but it's based on what I learned with her.


The Pre-Rphaelite Sisters

I knew if I was going to return I needed something to help galvanise my courage to face what was a very difficult period of time, living on the streets as a #homeless person. Realising that Tate Britain were going to host a major exhibition of the work of #williamblake, a #creative hero of mine, became the carrot large enough to tempt me. Realising that the National Portrait Gallery were, by happy coincidence, at the same time holding a major exhibition on the #PreRaphaelite Sisters, made the deal complete. The trip was planned and my good friend and fellow writer Elaine Cusack agreed to be chaperone.

The purpose of revisiting was to help process the past and put it where it should be and not, as it has been for some years now, causing intrusive disturbing nightmares and memories that are triggered in certain circumstances that my brain misinterprets as the threats of imminent danger. I am old enough and wise enough now to realise the process of #healing trauma cannot be hurried. I therefore planned for four days in London, with a loose idea, consisting of the above exhibitions plus a visit to the #VandA and some time in Kensington, as that was where I had spent the majority of my time as a homeless person.


The V&A , my artistic home

The museums, particularly the V&A played a role in my survival as well as my interest in #art. I'm fairly certain that is where I developed not only my tastes but also my #knowledge, as I read as much, if not more than I gazed upon the works. Elaine was brilliant, as she has herself lived in London and has an extensive knowledge of the geography and bus routes. She is also happy to do her own thing and trust me to wander short distances and do things at my own pace, without feeling the need to cosset and fuss, a quality I very much appreciate.

We made our way to the #NationalPortraitGallery having arrived in London. For anyone who doesn't know it's situation, it is just round the corner from #TrafalgarSquare. We approached from a slightly different direction, through streets looking like any other city. However as we approached the Gallery itself I recognised a monument I used to look up to, which is in memory of Nurse #EdithCavell. Standing looking at that monument made me realise where I was and my body began to react. I couldn't keep count of the number of times I had to reassure myself, what I was experiencing was the past and not the present. What I revisited over the four day period has begun a #process for me, part of which will be the processing of those stuck memories and the associations made. That process has already begun in my studio with two paintings underway, but for now, here are some of the #photographs I took while in London.


Whatever happens in my studio I shall write about it here on my #blog so you can join me on the journey if you wish.





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Whitley Bay, Tyne & Wear England UK       © 2018 by Gail Curry