An Interesting Artists Jounrney.......
As It Unfolds.
This story is my own.
It's a true account of a highly coincidental pathway between the 19th and 21st centuries.
Or maybe it isn't all a coincidence.
Lets see where this takes us.
It really has been pretty incredible so far.
I will be updating this page each week so you can enjoy the story unfolding as it continues to do so for me.
1: This journey begins in October 2021 with an art exhibition organised by Streatham Festival for local artists to showcase some of their work within multiple venues along the highroad.
A great opportunity for someone like me to show my art in public for the first time.
I had only recently found my love for painting at the start of 2020 when I had met my big brother for the first time and discovered he was a creative himself and since became an inspiration to me.
The pandemic of Covid then hit and lockdowns were enforced in March 2020. With the loss of my usual work as a hairdresser and my wedding cancelled by the government, I found myself feeling somewhat lost not seeing my clients, friends or family.
No more wedding planning and having nothing else to do but nurse the poorly cat I had found on the day of lockdown and couldnt take anywhere for help.
As each day passed, I felt useless- another day gone that I had no purpose.
Then it hit me- being creative makes me happy.It always did. So, I invested in new art materials and a few canvas boards. I figured I may as well use the time to create something special- something that would make me and possibly others smile too. During lockdown I painted and drew many portraits and landscape paintings for local people who seemed to quickly love my work. I messed around with new mediums and materials, I always found a sense of ease when the paints came out. These commissions supported me financially in my time of need and I was able to let myself be free of the world for a while, whilst I painted.
When entries for the exbihition came to light, I nervously jumped at the chance to put myself out there as an artist.
Life will never be the same again.
I was allocated four venues to show my work, Streatham Tate library, Kara (a dress store) The woodfield Pavilion and St Leonards Church.
It was here that this fascinating journey truly begins.
2: Each venue requested I invigilate throughout the term of the exhibitions- this also gave me a chance to meet other creative, like minded people which alone was the start of a new world for me. I was excited. After a few days at the library, I finally felt at ease, I was getting positive feedback on the four paintings I had there. My days at the church then began.
The first day was quiet- I peacefully enjoyed the beautiful decor of the chancel and alter, the gothic carvings on archways above my hanging pieces. I felt proud to be placed in a buiding of such splender. Day two at the church- It was a little busier- The sun was shining bright and it was pleasently warm for October. Small groups nestled in to enjoy the variety of artworks. My abstract pieces 'Colours of Life' & 'Colours of the Soul' were going down well too.What a lovely afternoon. After a few hours, I found myself completely alone so I decided to wonder over to the doorway to appreciate the sunshine and fresh air outside. Befriending a delightful tuxedo cat at the doorway, I fussed him a little and returned inside. Charming chap I thought. He followed me in and we spent the next hour or so lazing around the church- me enjoying the art- him a curious cat. walking low by my feet as if to say, he knew he shouldnt be there. Doing no harm and thinking well, a cat is also gods creation so should be welcome here too, I enjoyed his company.
Then a visitor arrived. Time to stop messing with the cat and invite this person in.
3:The stranger seemed unsure whether to enter or not so I began to approach the entrance of the church and invited him in. 'Its open' I shouted. He remained stood in the stunning carved wooden doorway- half open- his back to the sun and seemed to be wearing tails and a top hat. For just a moment I think that there may be a wedding coming- do I need to leave I wondered.
As he stood in the sunshine, not saying a word I thought to myself, he is wearing unusual clothes for this weather. Infact, he almost looks like he's in fancy dress. I chuckle to myself for thinking that it was odd. I did see a man just that morning with long dredlocks. He was wearing a cowboy hat and sunglasses. This man may just be another Streatham excentric.Nothing wrong with that. So I wait for him to say something in return. He can see me. He is looking me straight in the eye yet he is not saying a word.'You can come in' I say. Still nothing. A little rude I thought. Now apart from making eye contact with me and completely ignoring me, he began to walk towards the closed side of the doorway and dissapeared from my sight. My immediate thought was 'what? is that man about to urinate on that beautiful door?' Talk about assuming the worst of someone. Maybe he really didnt hear me, but i'm quite sure that he did.
4:It was the way in which he walked towards that door that had suggested he must be stood on the other side of it at an extremly close proximity. I am not particularly religous but that truly is one beautiful door- It itself it is a work of art. So, I am a little unhappy about what I think he doing so I decide I should approach him even though I'm alone and I have no idea what kind of man he is. Speeding forward to the doorway, I throw myself outside and turn my head to tell him off, But he isn't where I thought he went.If he didnt walk right up to the door, he could have only gone down somewhere or I guess,he could have ran through the cemetary.
Looking down from the doorway, I spot a small staircase but this hasnt been accessed in a while as nature has clearly taken hold and vines have began to hug the entrance. It really doesn't look disturbed in any way. So he must have ran off. Luckily the cemetary gives you a clear view all the way back to the surrounding roads. I'll see where he went- Maybe he was lost.
Forgetting exactly why im looking for this man now, my little cat friend follows closely by my feet. I do a full 360 degree spin, checking across the grounds for a man in tails and a top hat. I can see people on the streets- but none in his kind of attire. I chuckle to myself again- This man has dissapeared right infront of my eyes. Where did he go? I am bemused-because he must have gone somewhere and I am missing something.
5: I do the rounds of the churchyard again, looking for a doorway -maybe he works here at the church. I'll probably see him again later at some point. Finding no doorway, I give up and go back inside. I sat fussing the cat for the next 30 minutes until another volunteer arrived. Trying to keep my mind occupied, I took my phone out and started to photograph the beauty I could see within the church. This'll pass the time I thought, it really was something to get blissfully lost in. Such intricate details which you could almost miss if you didnt look closely. I felt different- almost a little spooked. Being in a big empty building must be playing tricks with my mind. I am trying not to think about the man I lost sight of, but I am seriously confused. I knew if I had seen some kind of spirit or ghost, I'd have known it. The fact that I was so unsure must mean that I was just being silly. He probably just walked away really fast, or I did miss a doorway out there somewhere. The cat left when I did- which I was happy about as I didnt want him or me for that matter, getting in trouble for him the entire church. We parted ways and I made my way home looking back through the churchyard as I approched the gate.
I have just got to get home-its 'only a ten minute walk thankfully- I just can not stop thinking of the man in the doorway. He most defintly ' a ghost. He was so real, I could have touched him. Just because he was unusually dressed doesn't mean anything and he quite possibly did work at the church and I simply didn't see where he went. His face is still so vivid in my mind, his stare as clear as it was when he first showed up. I don't know why I'm thinking of him still but something just doesnt add up.
Finally home, I immediately tell my husband what had happened. He,as expected laughs and tries to help me come up with a solution as to where he went. Suggesting that I should google St Leonards church and have another look at the building, I agree that that's a good idea. He giggles as he then says 'look into the history of the building and if you find your man, let me know' I laugh with him because, yes I'm going to google to church out of curiousity but I expect to find nothing of help. I set myself up my dining table with my laptop. How interetsing this all is. I am discovering lots of information on the church itself, and as a local to Streatham myself, I am intrigued.
6:After a couple of hours of reading, I discover a story of the rebuilidng of the church- Some information going way back to the 14th Century. Wow this is interesting. I then read on a little more and discover that the body of the church where my paintings were currently hanging, was rebuilt in 1831 when a new chancel was designed by an artist called William Dyce. My senses start to feel unusual- I just saw the word artist and felt something in it. Who is William Dyce? It is not a name I am familiar with. So, I go on to google William dyce of course. I am expecting to find something kind of interesting about an artist I dont know of but that is as far as my thoughts go really.
I then find out that Dyce lived in Streatham and was also a church warden at the church. I am reminding myself that this man wasn't a church warden. I am not sure exactly what a church warden looks like but he didnt particularily seem a man of faith exactly. I read on in curiousity about the man who colourfully decorated a chancel. This was sadly damaged by a fire in 1975. Ah, thats why it had looked so old. I'm thinking it is brilliant that I now know what I was admiring earlier that day. That gothic design was stunning.I read on, Willam Dyce is buried at St Leonards church. What a coincidence I think, some well known artist was such a big part of that church and my work now hangs for the first time in the same building next to the stained glass window which has his initials featured to this day. I had looked longingly at the window- but I didn't recall seeing any initials. I then read on - Dyce had a bronze plaque at the church- something else I dont think I had spotted. I will go back over my photos laterI thought. Dyce also created the Streatham Water fountain on Streatham Green. I know this fountain well. I didnt know anything about it, but it was familar to me. Comfortably learning some interetsing facts about Streatham I continue my research on St Leonards church and this artist- because it really is all quite interesting.