“A person is, among all else, a material thing, easily torn and not easily mended.”
McEwan’s description in Atonement forces us to see the physical substance and fragility of the flesh, as well as of our emotions: that we are ultimately delicate and immeasurably vulnerable, perhaps most obviously towards the end of our lives. As I paint with these new friends, I notice the worn, wrinkled hands, air pumped through a tube into her nose, words that stop on his lips catching briefly against his breath. And I am her eyes: eyes that once saw the sunrise and all that is beautiful and ugly in the world. As I describe the brightness of the orange and the warmth she is creating; the cancer which is diminishing her senses is made less powerful. In that moment the collaboration of my eyes and her hands pulls us together – a harmony of sorts – a moment captured – a small fabric plaster over the inevitability of her decreasing days. We paint as though we are embedded in and emerging renewed through the paint; it is oxygen, it is comfort and, as the paint dances, we are woven into this moment of being.