Saturday, April 04, 2009

Dark Matter

My first studio was a ground floor apartment in a block of Art Deco flats, in Brisbane.
The block was perched high on a hill at the outskirts of the ciity. In front of my windows, a sheer cliff dropped to the edge of a busy road and stairs zig-zagged down it to a narrow footpath. The rumble of heavy trucks and buses reverberated through the timber floors of the studio; I could feel it through my bare feet and through my mattress which lay on the floor. Blue industrial plastic was taped as a protective cover on the walls in the living room where I painted and it reflected a shimmering blue light throughout the space. At night, even the black seemed to glow blue.
The deadline for my first gallery exhibition had been moved forward. Suddenly, it just wasn't possible finish all my paintings in time. It felt like a death sentence – so I decided to work myself to death.
Every few hours I inhaled dexamphetamine, bought from a raver who had conned a gullible doctor into thinking he was
narcoleptic. I stayed awake, buzzing like a ripped high voltage wire, for days on end. If I crashed, I slept a little then just upped the dosage. It was my first real chance and I refused to blow it. After six weeks, the fabric between dream and hallucination was torn. Visions of vindictive angels whispered about me as they hovered at the edge of night-time shadows. Some called my name faintly, as if from a distance.
The day before the exhibition opened, I collapsed. My father carried me away from the gently vibrating floor and the softly glowing blue room. He delivered the paintings to the gallery while I slept.
Today, wide awake, I wanted to paint a little of what I still remember of those savage, dislocated days.


rach said...

This painting is beautiful.

Anonymous said...

Hi Hazel,

THAT is one powerful watercolour!


Anonymous said...

I wish I'd known about dexamphetamine when I was a student studying intensely before final exams trying to stay awake naturally. My well meaning but misdirected mum said "take this" and I did without questioning while I stopped for a short nap then slept and slept and woke the next day in a panic and a blur. I then learnt she had given me valium which made me incapable of properly doing the exam that morning which I did better than pass anyway but I could have should have got top marks for it if it had not been for my mum and her little helper. I was and still am furious with her whenever I remember as it stuffed up my entry score for the course I wanted to do at uni. I gave up my dream and did an arts degree instead, all because of that little pill.


Hazel Dooney said...

I'm sorry to hear about your experience, V.G. But I don't recommend dexamphetamine, and I wouldn't do it again.

Leila Anasazi said...

The painting is somehow both heart-stopping and compelling. Wow.