Monday, 30 November 2009

Oh What A Life

www.agracefuldeath.blogspot.com for the progress account of the exhibition I am holding on the End Of A Life
www.antoniarolls.com for my website
antoniarolls1@btinternet.com if you want to email me


Well Folks. What A Life.

Today you need to know the story of this wonderful exhibition I am holding about the last few weeks, days and day of my wonderful former partner's life as he died of cancer. It is called "A Graceful Death" and it is my story of how Steve and I managed to approach his death. It is my journey in paintings, describing how I felt about his failing health and how I felt about loosing him. It also concentrates on the power of life in the last few days. How the human body is not just a victim of disease, but a vehicle for this mysterious thing called Life that is so inexplicable.

I have worked very hard to put together the exhibition, and was offered a venue by the Quakers who understood the power of what I am doing. I wanted to raise money for the two local hopsices, and to raise awareness of the end of life and palliative care. Gosh, I received such a wonderful welcome and support. The hospices could not do enough to help and I was grateful for such experienced help.

The paintings are amazing. Some are hard to look at but all are strong and loving. On seeing them, so many people have found them familiar - their grandfather, or uncle, or mother, or friend, died of cancer like this. Instead of recoiling, they want to talk, tell me their story and connect with the images that are, actually, familiar to them.

I cannot tell you the amount of interest and support I have received for this tiny but raw exhibition. Donations are coming in all the time for the hospices, and that is wonderful.

Some of Steve's relatives have orchestrated a sudden campaign to have the exhibition closed down. The hospices have had to withdraw their public support for the exhibition, which I understand. They cannot be involved in a disagreement. The Quakers too have had to withdraw their support and the venue was cancelled yesterday. They cannot, as an organisation, be seen to be involved in a disagreement.

Oh how sad this is. How is it that the very people who are lost in their own pain and fury are able to make such a fuss? Well, my heart goes out to them. This is precisely why I am holding the Graceful Death exhibition in the first place, to enable a discussion about death and end of life. Steve died. He lived with me and I cared for him every moment I could, even in the hospital and hospice. I changed him when he was incontinent. I knew he wanted orange segments to eat. I knew how to hold his head when it was too heavy for him to lift. And I held him when he could not find his safe place. He talked to me during those final months of all he had hoped for, and asked me to stay with him always. He asked me to marry him and if he was well, I would have. He posed for the photos I took of him to paint him and giggled when we discussed how they would look. Steve was a very unusual and free thinking man. He loved challenges and loved my painting. Some of the paintings I did before he died he kept in his room in the hospital. Steve was a strong and deeply spiritual man, sometimes I thought him too wise for this world.

So I have this exhibition that is being closed down before it is even shown by just a few of Steve's relatives who are hurting so badly they are lashing out.

I have another venue and the show will go on. Since the withdrawal of the hospices and Quakers, I have been overwhelmed with support and offers of more venues. The opening night is still Monday 7 December, from 6pm to 8pm. If you would like to know more, please email me for details on antonia.rolls1@btinternet.com

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