“Perfer et obdura, dolor hic tibi proderit olim.” “Be patient and tough; someday this pain will be useful to you.”-Ovid
A mantra so magnificent. The mindful mechanism for managing pain. An even more immediate call for patience- these daunting, yet wishful words wane through the windows of time and space. They carry the weight of a thousand setting suns- and then some, an ambient backdrop to the aches of each passing day. They comforted Oedipus when he slept with his mother and killed his father, assuaged the heartaches of Frida Kahlo, all whilst forging the creative relationship between John Lennon and McCarthy following the death of their respective mothers. The profound pursuit of pleasure often times proliferates in pain.
For Scotland based visual artist Sarah Amy Fishlock, this means transforming her grief into a product of emotive creation through collage in overlapping layers of old photos with new ones. Her original oeuvre, dubbed Beloved Curve, explores the tantalizing tensions between national and familial identity, and the problematic nature of memory, by using a double exposure technique in layering old images of her father with colorful images of vibrant flowers and natural vegetation.
A departure from her previous work, Beloved Curve is a journey inward that explores a melange of feeling- of mortality and mourning, transience and time, death and defiance. These universal emotions stretch beyond political, social, and cultural sensibilities, as they are feelings that resonate with all people. Fishlock’s efficacious foray into a series of fading photographs presents the identifiable pain of having loved and lost, and the ways one can extrapolate beauty from heartbreak.
The overlaid images create a compelling conversation between her father’s documented past, and the artist’s unknowable present in an attempt to “reconcile the two realities that grief” creates. The series echoes human memory through the refined reconciliation of a “then and now” in the daunting defiance of the passing of time. Drawn to the salient, yet silent persistence of nature, Fishlock embraces 12 years of sorrow by transforming it into a product of both passion and loss.
The images “speak to the undulating, cyclical nature of grief” presented by the clear presence of Fishlock’s father in some images, and the apparent disintegration of image in others to reflect memory eroded by time. Fishlock’s overlaid images speak a thousand words, channeling into the right side of the brain’s language of imagery to surface a visual conversation of transcending grief.
A product of loss, this can either be debilitating or empowering, depending on the way it is viewed. In an audacious attempt at understanding her pain and coming to terms with her father’s passing, Fishlock ciphers through the cyclical nature of grief and the disintegration of memory with time.
There is no question of the profuse and impenetrable power of pain. Grief provokes artistic sensibility, inspiring the artist to unearth, explore, and reimagine despair, pain, heartache, and suffering to better understand and represent these universal emotions.
For more about the inspirational visual artist, Sarah Amy Fishlock, visit her website here.