Loss – blog

The Loss installation I have created for the gallery is the start of a much bigger project investigating the experience of Loss.

I wrote for visitors to the installation –

Due to the shared experience of the pandemic many of us have not only physically lost people close to them but they have also experienced loss of identity, control, power and confidence. I wish to unearth / explore through conversation and tasks the next step we all need to take to regain our balance and sense of self.

This first weekend was a real experiment in how people would react to a woman in a waiting room, carpet on the floor, floating clock above her head, desk in front of her and chairs waiting to sit in. On the wall is a large blackboard space in contrast to the whiteness of the room. The visitor has a number of decisions to make, enter the room, stay in the room, talk to the woman, sit down, have a conversation, edit down the conversation to something to write on the board.

On the first day of the weekend, Saturday, I was totally surprised and touched by the number of people who did all the above and with such openness and generosity. After each conversation, and the there were 12 on that day, I wrote their words in a black book with a white pen, echoing the board and chalk and also took notes of some of the stories they told me. But decided totally against taking any pictures or filming as I usually do because each conversation felt very intimate and personal.

Sunday was equally satisfying and by the end of the day the huge board was pretty full. In the week I am not present but visitors are asked to add thoughts and watch a film projected where I would be usually sitting about 3 generation’s of loss.

By midweek I felt the board was full and cleared it to start again on Thursday.

I have to say that I have learnt so much over this period of encounter with the general public. I tried to have no preconceptions about my response to Loss, so my role was to listen and then develop a conversation and I was so surprised at the myriad of responses and stories, all so different yet linked by a shared humanity. Not once was any one rude to me and most conversations I had where generous and heart felt. My previous impatience with humans was replaced by a faith in humanity I have not felt for some time.

In all over the 3 weekends I had over 160 conversations, with 160 written responses. I met all sorts of people of all ages, sexes, creeds and backgrounds. Some writing on the board was left when I was not present but the majority came out of a very intimate and personal meeting. The board was written on until it was full and cleared 3 times over the 2 weeks, each board became a cacophony of voices.

It was observed by myself and others that this word is very potent at the moment and it seems to be in the air as something that needs to be discussed openly and without fear. Here are a few voices:

I need to eat my loss

I have just realised I have lost a lot

Loss is a hurt shaped hole filled with love

Loss is a space for something new to come.

Sometimes you have to loose everything to get everything back.

After loss there is relief

Loss has given me strength

Loss is good for you

Loss is reclaiming my power

Mostly it is loss which teaches us about the worth of things.”

Arthur Schopenhauer

“Every one of us is losing something precious to us. Lost opportunities, lost possibilities, feelings we can never get back again. That’s part of what it means to be alive.” 

Haruki Murakami, Kafka on the Shore