As I stare into the camera with my long hair framing my face, there is a light side and a dark. My eye traces the silhouette of the beautiful left, and in her softly refined cheekbone curve to the jaw, I don’t see me any more. Mum is looking back from the screen, directly meeting my gaze. She is in me, and my portrait won’t let me forget; she is watching me.

It is her youthful beauty channeling through the light side of my face, wondering what I will do next. I search for condemnation in her pupil; does she mind the way I write about her? I find only a questionning, a look that is checking.

The light side is only a sliver the width of an eye; grossly out-proportioned by the shadow. The darker part is tired and pasty, baggy-eyed; wearing the weight of my worry like the picture of Dorian Gray. It is real life lived, completing a model with stories to tell. Only squinting can I shed the ugliness to reveal a blurry pretty me/my Mother all in one.

In Victoria Rance’s class I agreed to sit, on Zoom, finally giving in this term. Yesterday evening an experienced class drew me in Steve’s clean studio space. This morning I was at home in Brockley for beginners.

Looking straight on, in Victoria’s drawing this morning

Last night was my first good night’s sleep in the last four. Returning to my own bed with its double mattress all to myself, helps to reboot my insomniac system. I spread out luxuriating, stretching my limbs to each corner as far as they’ll go. I feel the cracks in the walls, the raw plaster above my head, the drafty windows and their damp underside; pictures on the walls telling pieces of my history (my sister calls my home ‘the museum’) and my bones know they are home. I haven’t had a home this long in my life ever till now, and I know its value. Not just in terms of housing benefit. It is a sanctuary.

In the afternoon I met one of my oldest friends on the Heath. We talk about how we are different when we are spending time in our homes alone, to when we are staying with our partners. She has a similar set-up. Sometimes coming home is a reconnection with self, and this is something we hadn’t always realised in our lives. Now in our 40s it is really clear; but when we were younger, we didn’t always notice the disconnection.

Here is a short video I shot yesterday in Bowers Marsh, close to where Steve lives. I was very tired and spontaneous; it’s a bit rambly, but honestly I love the ambience! It wouldn’t be the same on a grey drizzley typical day, but here in gorgeous Spring sunshine, something is working. It continues from yesterday’s theme of sex and connection.

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