We are delighted to present the third of five SMHAF artist commissions on the theme My Experience of Isolation.
Amy Rosa makes live art, intimate performance, large-scale sculptural installations, recorded spoken text and photographic work about her experience of the world as a disabled woman living with multiple chronic illnesses. For SMHAF she is creating a series of photographic self-portraits and accompanying creative writing/spoken text about living with complex post traumatic stress disorder.
Below you can view parts One, Two, Three, and Four of the work plus some descriptive text – more portraits will be added to this page in the coming weeks. Click on the images and words to see them in a larger size.
Landscape oriented photo. A colour saturated photo showing a low and wide stone opening to an old mine with a wall of deep and bright green moss and ferns above. There are some pink and yellow flowers resting on the moss and some dead branches to the left of the image. The cave looks dark, and there is a figure laying at the entrance. They are white with red hair and they are wearing a green dress. They have a hand resting under their head and the other reaching to the side, touching the ground with fingertips. A wooden walking stick with a brass handle is just visible next to the figure. Their feet are dropping towards the dark mouth of the mine, as if they have just emerged and have taken rest.
Since there is reality to deal with
I have become
Thirsty skin waiting
Brief sparks of lucidity
Craving fallow spaces
I have become so still I find myself dispersing
Either silence or a scream
Slipping back and forth in the vast landscapes that govern
An unrelenting dream
Landscape oriented photo. In the centre of the image is a white woman sat in a wheelchair. She has her right foot tucked behind her left on the small foot platform. She is wearing silver socks and black shoes, and a draping black dress. On her head is a long piece of coral pink silky material, draping down behind and beside her. She is wearing a headband made with dried marshland grasses which are curly. It sticks up like a spiralled grassy crown. She has her hands in her lap and her head is tilted back and to the side with her eyes closed. Behind her are some tree saplings with pale trunks and bright green leaves growing out of an old light grey stone wall, with another, darker grey stone wall behind that and a green grassy bank.
Low voice, calm, soft and measured
burst flashes of a past kept hidden
deep hugs and offered words
arms holding like old branches
kind smiles and keen eyes
not the thundering blood
mind fizzing with ten thousand disparately woven thoughts
lightning bolts of memories
like a wasp drunk with late sun, desperately trying to make sense of the air
searching through glass for a world they’ll never reach
A nearly square photo showing an old round crumbling stone tower on the edge of a cliff made of red, grey and blond stone. There are two arches forming a window through to the grey skies the tower is surrounded by. In the foreground of the photo is an uneven rocky outcrop with patches of short grass and to the right of the photo the sea is just apparent (there is mist). In the furthest archway a nearly silhouetted figure in a long floating skirt is standing facing the camera, with their right arm stretched to the side with palm slightly raised (as if for balance), and left arm holding a walking stick. There is a sombre and quiet feeling to the image.
I am made of water and salt
Forelines, carved in restless sleep
I am made of strange and awkward atoms
Swayed by heavenly currents
Dark matter surrounding and filling
Between my spaces
I am made of mist
A breath held high
You place us in these attics, these towers
Wanting our unruly mouths quiet
We are closer to knowing than you
A portrait oriented image of the interior of a 1960s social housing ﬂat. The ﬂoor is coloured laminate wood eﬀect and the wall to the left and the ceiling are magnolia coloured. In the background of the image are two clear square windows with rectangular textured glass under each one. The four windows take up the whole space between ceiling and ﬂoor. There are trees in the distance. To the left of the image is a wooden standard lamp with a traditional looking fringed lampshade, and on the ﬂoor to the right of the lamp (in the corner of the room) is a big wooden framed 1960s television. Central/right of the image is a white woman with short wavy red hair in a 1950s pink and black lace ballgown sitting in a turquoise and gold edged vintage wicker chair. She has an old fashioned walking stick, upright and resting on the inside of her left wrist, hand resting over the handle. Her arm is bare. Her body is facing the television but her head is looking down and to the left, so her profile is just visible behind the wave of her hair. There is an old fashioned small suitcase next to her, on the left. The lighting is bright, and there is a slight dark shadow in the top and bottom right of the image.
Empty pear crates poking splinters into my socks, packed, neatly. Packed in.
I wonder if some of us are always waiting.
I wonder how long I can do this balancing act.
But I shine, and people see my smile, and bask in me.
So I hold it all. Packed in.
I can’t let my deep shuddering breath into my soft belly, into my body that feels like a stranger.
It’s not safe and my net is too full of holes.
And now, again, the lens refocuses and we are somewhere new, a different timeline.
And here I am.
Holding it all.
Slowly becoming quieter and more still as my rushing waters overflow.
Find out more about Amy Rosa's work on her website. Header image by Tiu Makkonen.