|Is this how you see me|
He seemed to be happy enough, happy enough to ask me to work there full time , so now I was commuting . the shop was open from nine till six everyday , he bought me a moped so I could get in more conveniently , but I ended up getting tonsillitis from the wind chill , and the near misses on the country roads were frightening , so what with my relationship falling apart and the dangerous roads my boss asked me if I'd move to Athlone , so saying good bye to my daughter and my now ex I moved into an empty flat by the railway station, near to the shop . Now I had to open up every morning and close up at night after cashing up. It just felt as if everything was over . But I bought my paintings with me and after a while I could afford to buy materials and with few distractions and no friends I started to paint again.
But they were strange paintings. I'd work all day , then come home , sit down on the sofa exhausted and smoke cigarettes drink coffee , stare at the tv blankly ( at first I didn't have a tv , just a radio I'd bought from Argos in the golden island shopping centre) and at some point I'd work up the energy to paint or cook . Not that I was cooking that much in those days , Pizzas from Tescos and maybe a snack box from the chipper.
I wasn't happy , its probably the most down and unhappiest I'd been since being a teenager. The paintings were more reflections of my emotional state , dark , black and strange like the unfriendly streets of Athlone at night in some respects it felt as if I was a ghost flitting through the streets at night , after the cinema or wandering out to the video store to get a movie . I didn't drink so I passed the pubs of which there are many and heard the laughter and the noise inside , it felt very much like the walks I took with my Childhood friend Michael around the streets of Droitwich, looking in at other peoples lives , except now it was just me and my empty flat .
Athlone was like a slow death. The commune had collapsed , I'd given up on the life I'd chosen , and here I was exhausted at the and of every day in a town where I knew no one and the only contact I had from day to day were the customers I talked to in the shop. There had to be more than this. But how to get out of this trap that I'd allowed to be sprung on me , this whole life was bending me out of shape . At the interview for Winchester Clyde Hopkins, the head of painting , had asked me what I'd do to support myself during the degree and I told him , beg borrow and steal.
These are choices we make as artists , do we choose to have
a job to support ourselves , and not be able to paint all the time , or choose to wing it and accept that there are some things we can't have , like security and possessions and sometimes even relationships , so we can carry on making what we are drawn to make.
These were hard paintings to make , because it really did feel like the end , that I'd betrayed whatever talent and opportunity I had been given again when I gave up drinking for this dead end mediocrity of a life where I had some things , but no time and no self respect . I didnt even smell good , my clothes had taken on the smell of grime and oil from the bikes I worked on , my hands had that dark and oily look that only mechanics hands can have .
I see the paintings now as a wordless conversation or argument I was having with myself , arguments about relationships , sex , being used and a general lack of self worth giving in to abusive people who were basically using me for their own ends , when you lack for love you grasp onto the first person who smiles at you , but what you find is always a hidden agenda behind that smile , and an endless stream of lies. But a little kernel of hope was always there , in the back of my mind I kept returning to the story of Pandoras box , that the last thing left within that box was hope . Eventually I started to fight my way out of the prison I had placed myself within and one january night i get on a ferry back to Wales and left the flat and the job far behind .
|Running away in the night|
|sadness of an empty bed|
|you must also cut and bleed|