With my current series of “ghost portraits” I feel I am not solely depicting the traditional Western idea of a departed soul, but also the “ghost” of a memory, the “ghost” of a face of someone you have almost forgotten; the misty remnants of your own childhood, perhaps something you have tried to block out. Ghosts can be seen as the restless souls of lingering spirits, but also the haunted parts of our own psyche. Our own fears and inhibitions softly strangling us.
My recent subject matter has been exploring these ideas, and of depicting these intangible faces more as curious and persistent visitors, rather than a dangerous force wishing us harm. Messengers bearing warnings or advice, trying to communicate voicelessly.
I am quite a rational person, and have never been a believer of ghosts, fairies, monsters, spirits or sci-fi style aliens. However, I did experience my first “paranormal” visit the other night. Sleeping in an old building in adjacent beds with a good friend, I felt the other side of my bed grow noticeably heavy, the weight (of a body) throwing off the balance of the mattress – the unmistakable feeling of someone having soundlessly crawled into bed behind me. I wondered what was wrong with my friend that she had needed to do so, perhaps she’d had a bad dream - and I tried to open my mouth to ask her if she was alright. At this point I realized I couldn’t speak or move. After a second failed attempt to call out to her I fought the temporary paralysis affecting my throat and body and managed to sit up in bed, when I noticed I was alone in my bed, as my friend was still fast asleep across the room in her own bed. I let the darkness of the night freak me out, and I spent the rest of the sleepless night sprawled out across my mattress to make sure there was no available room for a lonely ghost to snuggle up behind me.
The next morning I put the strange experience down to the previous day’s extensive wine-tasting tour, talk of ghosts in the 1000 year old abbey wine cellar where we were, and that ghosts and spirits are often on my mind due to my recent subject matter.
Still, in a strange way I enjoyed the thought of being visited by a lonely ghost, who simply wanted to snuggle up to a warm body in the dead of the night, hungry for human contact. I know the feeling and can empathize.