Saturday, February 24, 2007

Self-Love Tokens

I had my ears pierced when I was five years old. I begged for them to be done. I had a French crop my mother gave me and a restless demeanor so I was always being mistaken for a boy. Everyone thought my brother was a girl. He was smaller and cherubic, with blue eyes and white blonde curls. I wore earrings – and girlish necklaces – from then until I began painting in my late teens.
From the start, my paintings had an ultra smooth, pristine surface. A small scratch or splatter meant an entire section - and sometimes more - had to be redone. Over a few months, I adjusted everything about myself to avoid marking the surface of my work. I removed rings, necklaces, my watch, and even earrings. I swapped shirts for soft cotton T-shirts and singlets, eliminating buttons that might scratch if my clothing grazed the paint. I had never worn t-shirts until then. I grew my hair long and tied it back, so no strands could fall on the paint.
A few years ago, I was given an African beaded bracelet. Though I adored it, I've only recently started to feel at ease enough to wear it - or wearing anything inessential. I have begun to collect 'ethnic' jewellery. They're mostly beaded, or made of bone, shell, wood, silver, imported from Africa, Southern Asia and South America. Having eschewed such things for so long, it feels decadent to wear them and yet they feel a little like talismans. I chose each because it reminds me of something I love: sunlight shining through drops of rain, the sea, tropical jungles, the desert, pomegranate seeds. And, of course, my man. Come to think of it, all those things remind me of him.

No comments: