No matter whom we are, where we live, or what we do, there is a constant in life that transcends all others we may share or have in common: the passing of those we love and / or hold dear.
Losing someone close hurts – the realisation that someone we have always had in our lives or who has grown so close to us they have become a part of us is simply no longer there to touch, hold or just look at – can be devastating. that it is almost inconceivable we should ever be without them; that they will never again be seen, heard, spoken to or touched. The accompanying grief we feel is something many have tried to quantify down the years – hence the so-called “five (or seven) stages of grief”; which may have unfortunately given rise to the idea that grief is just something you have to “go through” and life will be “normal” once you’ve done so.
But the reality is that grief is a much more complex state of being. As Simon Shimshon Rubin notes, bound within grief are biopsychosocial aspects, those which the so-called “stages of grief” tend to focus on: anxiety, depression, traumatic response, our reactions to those around us, etc. But there are also other aspects to grief, what Rubin called “Track 2” aspects: our connection with the deceased, the closeness shared and emotional involvement. These are harder to quantify, because they are unique to each of us; they both define the depth of our grief and drive the more outward biopsychosocial aspects, as such they are central to any clinical understanding of grief, again as Rubin notes.
More particularly, these “track 2” aspects help structure how we maintain that connection with the deceased, retain that sense of closeness, and come to terms that while we may never physically see them again, they are, nevertheless still a very real part of us. And this in turn can give rise to moments of deep and personal revelation, understanding and even creativity which in turn help us reach an internal sense of equilibrium following our loss – something that cannot be measured by marking “stages” (in whatever order they are encountered), or in terms of time; but whish are so experiential, they are with us in varying degrees and ways throughout the rest of ours lives.
Such is the case with the current exhibition and setting CybeleMoon (Hana Hoobinoo) has created at her Dark Wood Gallery. Will We Meet Again No More is both a memorial to, and celebration of, the life of her partner Nick, who recently passed away, and a means for Cybele to help herself express her loss through the positive act of creativity. Stepping into it is very much of stepping into the world they shared, and opportunity to understand their bond of love and companionship, and to help Cybele remember Nick as her fellow traveller, lover of photography, gifted creator (through his cooking), confidante and friend.
From the recreation of the garden space she and Nick made at their home, through to the images on the surrounding walls, to all of the little touches – the ship’s wheel (referencing Nick’s time in the merchant marine and their mutual love of sailing), the globe (representing their travels together), the pint of Guinness… – offer us the opportunity to know Nick just a little bit, and share in Cybele’s time with him, and better understand her loss. It is also presents Cybele with the opportunity to maintain contact with her own creative core at a time when doing so is unlikely to be easy – hence why the exhibition also frames some of her more recent pieces of digital art as well as remembrances of Nick.
Personal, an opening of the heart, rich in images from the physical and digital realms, Will We Meet Again No More is engaging and moving. Through it, and the words Cybele offers with it, I find myself feeling not so much the loss she undoubtedly feels, but a sense of having to come to know Nick just a little. My thanks and warmest hugs to Cybele for, respectively, allowing us this to share a sense of her time with Nick, and for her loss.
- Dark Wood Gallery (River Hill, rated Moderate)
P.S. If you are unfamiliar with Cybele’s work, I cannot recommend it highly enough; she is an extraordinarily gifted teller of tales through her images, photographs and words. With regards to the latter, I thoroughly recommend taking time to read her blog / website, if you have not previously done so.