Chances, Decisions and Possibilities

As I continue on with my treatment for breast cancer, I can’t help but think about how things happen and why. Also how it is approached and presented to you by the medical profession.

At the initial diagnosis, I was told it was low grade, small and requiring breast conserving surgery followed by radiotherapy. As time went on, the certainty of this scenario starts to waiver and one suddenly finds oneself having to consider the chances of more serious interventions. Through the various meetings prior to surgery, I hear about percentages and likelihoods, each time edging the goalposts in a slighter more unstable place so that by the time I have had surgery, I wake up not really knowing just how things will be and what further treatment will take place. Margins, nodes, blood vessel invasion….new terminology introduced to suggest a much more complicated landscape.

Thankfully, the odds worked in my favour so catapulted me pretty much back to my original diagnostic hammock of safety. However, radiotherapy treatment kicks in a whole new gambit of chances and statistics in terms of risk of damage to the heart, lungs and further cancer. What I don’t understand (and even more worryingly, it seems neither do the medical profession) is why the unfortunate few individuals who are the recipients of the ‘bad statistics’ are so unlucky in the first place. What are the criteria that brings this about? Presented with a rather long list of ‘very unlikely’ bad statistics’, I can’t help but feel it all sounds a little like a game of Russian Roulette.

Thankfully chances, decisions and possibilities in painting is a much more joyful prospect.

My new paintings start from deciding upon certain colour combinations that I have seen used in travel and interior design books. I was looking for striking, very non-British combos. Using these colours I created marks on canvases emulating the patterns from the New Zealand landscape (using a NZ landscape photography book). I was very strategically trying not to focus on the actual physical structures within the landscape, but the movement and pressure revealed in these dynamic patterns.

These paintings were started very instinctively and produced with some speed compared to the way I would normally work. I have to force myself to snap out of it when I start to get a bit precious so that I don’t freeze up and restrain the development of the work. It is a case of constant slaps across my face (metaphorically speaking) to avoid any preconceptions of how it will turn out and to try and play with any errors along the way. To see these as possibilities and a chance to take the work into a new place thus allowing new decisions. Percentages and statistics don’t come into it and the leaps into the dark are indeed pleasurable. Clearly some works end up becoming more successful than others and I have learnt a thing or 2 along the way. The paintings I show here are probably still work in progress, but aren’t we all.