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  • Gail Curry

Pavement Cracks

Updated: Dec 10, 2019

Lifelines, scars and the marks of time



The part of being #homeless that haunts me the most is the endless walking. I often have nightmares when I can only see my feet walking on what seems like endless pavements. Sometimes I am walking though pools of blood, sometimes my feet are sinking into pavement, sometimes I can hear an eerie voice warning me of the dangers of stepping on the cracks and as I try to avoid them, dirty hands grab at my feet.

I rarely slept on a pavement, as beatings and assaults had taught me it wasn't safe. I learned that if sleep was absolutely necessary, I should do it in a park or garden out of sight. Sleeping on the #pavement is synonymous with failing socially, as if falling through the #cracks of life.

I knew I had to paint this,

The early stages of Pavement Cracks

I chose to use #goldleaf to be ironic as when I was a naïve teenager I had heard the cliche that the pavements were made of gold in #London. I don't believe that for one minute I thought that was true, I was naïve not stupid. However, that being said I used to wish and day dream for things to change, to live like normal people did. What exactly that was I might never know, as I can't recall all of the details. However one that did return me on my visit to London was I would write wishes on leaves, using a stolen pen from a betting shop, and cast them into the Thames. I wonder if any of them came true?


The #red is representative of the blood I shed on the #pavements when I was attacked, which was not infrequently, some beatings were just worse than others. They occurred for no reasons other than I was dirty, I was homeless, therefore I was a target for any bully, or angry drunken man.


The #blue is the rain and the endless cold. Even now 39 years later if I think of it for more than seconds my body remembers it and reacts as though it is upon me again.

The background is #white, it's my skin innocent and open to the above. I was smooth and unblemished at 16, by the time I left the streets that was far from true. Kicked, burnt, cut, punched, my body tells a story and still holds those memories too.

The #black is the dirt and fear of the situation.


detail to completion

Now it is complete and although the memories on their own in isolation can produce unpleasant sensations, I can run my hand over this and I can tell it that it didn't catch or stop me, because I beat it and the odds, I climbed out of the cracks and walked away. It may have been a cathartic need that drove the paintings creation but somewhere in that process it became an emblem of defiance and strength.

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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East Street Arts Studio, within Gas Contemporary, Beacon Shopping Centre North Shields        © 2018 by Gail Curry