STORIES - Death
I never experienced death, 'close up' that is, until my life partner, Gavin, died. After being together nigh on 40 years, I came home one day and found him stretched out on the lounge, a faint smile on his face but he had departed. Now ten years later trying to remember how death affected me, the emotions and thoughts over the hours and days that followed; blackness, a blankness that eliminated all thought, an automaton going through the process with doctor, police, ambulance, overwhelming grief , sadness, anger that he had left without me, anger at the woman at the supermarket checkout saying "Have a nice day", sudden little bursts of lust - driven by a primitive fear of loss of love and tenderness, the ache of an emptiness that lies within, the dullness of life continuing, the comfort and oblivion of wine until finally the realization that life is continuing, you are participating, day by day the grief fades then only memories of good times float on the surface of a deep pool that you do not want disturbed.
The Tiwi people of Northern Australia believe that when a person dies, a Black Cockatoo guides the spirit to the afterlife. Which is why, in this collage of images from World War I to Vietnam, I arranged for the Cockatoo's wingtip to brush the central figure, an Australian soldier, identity unknown, who died in World War I. The image was taken by a German soldier who handed in the photograph after he was captured. "Guiding the spirit to Elysium" is another art work that continues an anti-war theme, with Death leading the dance to the machines of war.