The Walking With Angels talk at Norden Farm took on its own life. It was very gratifying to find it was “Sold Out” and 10 extra chairs had to be added, the tickets were free so we mean sold out in that every available seat was taken.
The Walking With Angels talk at Norden Farm took on its own life. It was very gratifying to find it was “Sold Out” and 10 extra chairs had to be added; the tickets were free so we mean that every available seat was taken.
Even lovelier, the Box Office staff really appreciated those few of you who couldn’t make it in the end calling to let them know. They told me this is very unusual with free events, and your consideration allowed those who came hoping for a space to be accommodated flawlessly.
Before the event.
I was doing last-minute Tech checks when I glanced up at the balcony above and saw a smile I couldn’t be sure was really there, as the only person I know with that smile wasn’t meant to be here. Sue is like Aphrodite, the goddess of love and beauty, she spreads smiles like rose petals down a bridal aisle, and there she was smiling down on me.
We met on the walk in the heart of the Masetas, and stayed together to the Iron Cross when she had to leave. Sue is a florist – not surprisingly, bringing love, and joy, and flowers into the important occasions in our lives – and it was so enriching to have her to share this night with. Here we both are, next to the picture of a rose cradled by an ordinary wall because I saw that rose through her eyes when Sue took a photo of it.
Her celebration of flowers is infectious; the myth of Aphrodite tells of flowers springing up under her feet as she walked and, in essence, it is the same with Sue. She brought that one bloom alive in my heart in the instant that she noticed it with her love for it.
The title of the picture is Round Every Corner because there is extraordinary beauty around every corner if you look for it. No matter how hard the walk was there was always something beautiful and inspiring if you just chose to see it, even if it was only a rose blushing in the early morning light in the shelter of an ordinary wall.
The elegant simplicity of that rose and Sue’s beautiful spirit became the perfect encapsulation for that thought.
Did you know that when Aphrodite was told that her beloved Adonis was fatally wounded by a boar, she hastened to the spot and sprinkled nectar into his blood, from which immediately flowers sprang up – it may be a myth, but knowing Sue I can see why someone would be inspired to tell a story like that.
The Event Opened
My admirable Teen 1 introduced the evening so competently, and against the interruptions of the general announcements over the speaker. It is remarkable that he can stand up and speak to a room full of people so inspiringly. I asked him a couple of weeks ago if he thought the walk had really had any lasting effects, he replied; “yes, I used to have a cut-and-paste patter and a mask I wore, but now I actually feel confident.”
In the audience was a friend, and fellow artist, Caroline Crawford, who is the most thoughtful and supportive woman, and an inspirational mother. Having her there was very special, it means a great deal that people want to hear this story and she brought a bunch of the most gorgeous flame coloured Ruffled tulips to remember the night by.
It was the night for flowers as my Happiness, Hope and Gratitude picture of sunflowers, which were like cheerleaders lining our way waving their pom-pom heads, was just the message someone wanted to hear. Sunflowers are said to represent enlightenment but they remind me of the Maori saying, “Face the sun and let your shadows fall behind you”.
Two others in the audience, photographer David Wright and his stunning wife Lyd, came to the very first talk, I am really touched that they were willing to hear the story again. I can’t wait to hear theirs when they walk the camino. There were friends, family, colleagues, surprises, and supporters there, and brand new friends made through the evening. Right at the end, Teen 1 spontaneously turned and gave me a huge hug. Captured here by my generous friend, colleague, photographer and artist, Becky Young, along with all these other pictures from the night.
This is one of my favourite moments from the night.
It is wonderful to stand and tell the story to a room full of people, and the more I do it the more I really want to publish a photographic book of the walk so I can get the story to as many people around the world as possible. But, I will have to publish it independently and raise the budget – and that takes confidence.
I thought hard about an ethical way I could raise the budget in line with the values of the experience, and I believe it would be to ask for donations. This will allow people the freedom to give and at a level they are comfortable with, in exchange I am offering to send a digital version of the talk. I put the proposal on a print out, and planned to ask the audience at the end of the talk what they thought.
But, I didn’t have the confidence to ask people to help me.
When I was clearing away at the end I found anonymous donations in my box anyway. How extraordinary is that? It brought me up short and is as clear a message as can be.
If others are prepared to back this I am just going to have to lean into the fear and do it, as I said in my New Year’s Resolutions: “The thrill of soaring has to begin with the fear of falling”.
Thank you, I truly appreciate the confidence.
With thanks to Norden Farm for hosting the talk, and all their support throughout the exhibition – this runs in the Gallery until the 5th of April 2014
With thanks to Becky Young for all the photographs here, and her immeasurable support.