Saturday, July 10, 2010

LYN TEMBY

If I appear to have my mouth agape with amazement it’s because I do. Never again will I commit myself to believing someone else’s preconceived ideas about an art form. Mosaics have, I had been told, a somewhat diminished position on the art scale; something akin to flower arranging and macramé. But from the moment I entered Lyn’s home I knew I was in for a quick rethink.


Lyn had already begun the guided tour, possibly even before I had arrived. ‘You ain’t seen nothing yet’ she explained, as she began describing every detail and meaning behind the strikingly vivid mosaic murals covering most of the interior walls of this neat and welcoming home. My brain was unable to maintain the same pace as the commentary, so I managed to keep my ears peeled to Lyn’s expose of one representation while my eyes scanned another, three places back.

I became decidedly conscious of my face being permanently fixed in a broad grin. There is a cathedral sense about the way one views Lyn’s work. You keep looking up and there is more to be seen at every glance. This place had a good feeling. Yet the stories behind each mosaic were somewhat gloomy; a pictorial interpretation of less pleasant parts of Lyn’s life. She spoke of depression, medication and a lack of control of a part of her life that, in her words, transformed her into another person. It would seem that Lyn has taken those anxious bits of her melancholic mind and displayed them for the world to see; but with a difference. She has transformed them into something quite beautiful. Mirrors predominate. The fact that these works reflect one’ self has not gone unnoticed. I find myself becoming part of the art as I stand before it; a broken and fragmented reflection of what I appear to be. Yet, strangely enough, I don’t notice. Not once did I have the very human urge to check my appearance. How out of character.

Lyn began her journey into the world of mosaics as therapy for a significant brain injury, the result of a car accident some years back. Oliver Sacks would love to talk to Lyn. Somewhere within her battered brain was an ability to create beautiful works of art; it just needed a place, some tools, a medium and time (and apparently a good shake). After 4 years Lyn is just as amazed at what she can do as I am. She calls it art but with some reservation. ‘It must be. I’ve exhibited’ she says excitedly. She has needed to learn a great deal, and not just about the craft. Recognition of her own ability has been an ordeal. Her bravado, audacity and cavalier attitude to what ‘should’ and ‘shouldn’t’ be done in the art world have been her comrades. She is ‘out there’ in every sense of the phrase.

Beyond the art and introspection Lyn makes sense of her world. ‘I get it’ her partner, John, replies when questioned on his opinion. Lyn shares with me the meaning behind a ‘work in progress’. I get it too, but you don’t have to get it to appreciate her work. If nothing else, she has amazing endurance and patience. ‘Shopping is hell’, John quips. Maybe Lyn’s endurance is matched by John’s tolerance.

We chat in the cool and comforting oasis of her garden. John has been with us through the tour. He is a quite man and admits to knowing little about what Lyn does as an art form. ‘I know what I like’ he retorts after some teasing from Lyn. He wriggles uncomfortably when I question him on his relationship with Lyn. But I have all the answers I need. The only other man I know who looks at a woman like that is me when I look at Christine. He’s in the right place.

Lyn is at ease in front of the lens. She has glossed up the lips in anticipation. ‘Make me look thinner’ she jokes. I look through the viewfinder and wonder what the ‘other’ Lyn was like. Somehow it is not longer relevant. This one is doing just fine. I am reminded once again of that concept of the art and the person being inseparable. This is proof positive.

As I leave I find myself still smiling. I have a feeling it won’t wear off for a while.



Thanks Lyn

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