On my European Heart

First published in my July 2016 newsletter

17 years ago this past May I stood on the Italian shores of the Adriatic after dark - it was the off season and the beach was quiet. I stood on the promenade with a railing to lean on - the great dark sea ahead of me, the night sky above me  and it felt as though I stood at the end of the world. There was no horizon line and it was impossible to tell where the lights from the fishing boats ended and the sparkling stars above began. Without that railing to hold me it felt as though I could step straight out into space there and then, fall through the stars reflected below and the lights refracted above, and into  wonder just as easily as Alice had gone through her looking glass. 

8 years ago I was on the other side of the Adriatic, watching the Milky Way stretch across the sky and wondering at the chance meetings and decisions of the heart that had brought me nearly full circle, just one spiral arm away from where I had stood 9 years before - landing me in Croatia and introducing me to a part of my creative self I had not known before. 

I may be American born and British by marriage, but I am European in the deepest part of my soul - inspired and transformed by countries and experiences that only have to wave across the Adriatic to see themselves reflected into the future. So, not surprisingly, the referendum result in the UK just over a week ago has been an emotional rollercoaster that I have yet to come to terms with. Europe made me who I am, introducing me to many of the most important people in my life and influencing my creative approach more than any other part of the world. And, even though my memory of standing at the edge fo the universe has been coloured by the ongoing refugee crisis, I remain enthralled to those stars that never ended and the seas that lapped quietly at my feet; there in the very heart of Europe where refugees are nothing new and dreams are echoed down the centuries. 

Perhaps the greatest consolation I have had this last week has been the timing of the Big Heart Charity Auciton which opened on Friday and continues until the 10th of July. In a time of great uncertainty and a news cycle that feels more Shakespearean than factual, I am taking great comfort from doing something that is entirely for someone else’s benefit and which, I hope, will go some small way towards making the world a better and brighter place than it was before. For this reason I am more than grateful to be able to donate one of my paintings to support the work of the Chestnut Tree House children’s hospice - it is through their massive efforts to raise money for their cause and the number of artists who have joined me in donating works that I have been reminded on a daily basis of the generousity of strangers and the power of wishing on stars.

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