2021, Salon 91, Cape Town | alison milne co., Toronto
This artist statement has been an impossible one to write. Since deciding to exhibit these drawings I’ve started and stalled more times than I can count.
In March this year my world came crashing down when my partner Dale, the father of my son Finlay, died in a drowning accident after finishing a 3 day hike with friends in the Drakensberg mountains.
When I was finally ready to go back into my studio, I sat down to paint and nothing worked. What I needed to process was simply too big. The weight of my grief was too heavy. Paint was too heavy. My usual way of working, stopped working and I couldn’t just go back to painting familiar landscapes and parties because the world I found myself in was a completely different place from the one I’d known before.
Day after day I showed up in my studio hoping to escape, hoping that the imaginary worlds I usually get lost in would carry me far away. But I just couldn’t go there.
Meanwhile the garden that Dale started to plant a year ago began to come alive. Every few days my mother would pick a single flower and put it on my desk. One day I picked up some colour pencils and I drew that day’s flower. Then the next and the next.
It was as if my grief was driving me back to the beginning, back to art school basics. I had the voice of my high school art teacher in my head, and I suddenly understood things he tried to teach me 16 years ago. I started to find comfort in the lightness and fragility of the pencils. Their sensitive and vulnerable nature mirrored my internal world quite perfectly and I was finally able to go to those impossible places.
This collection of drawings is in honour of my love, Dale Kilian. I will keep trying and failing to draw you for the rest of my life.
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