I am very fortunate in the on-line company I keep. The early days of being locked down encouraged the family to get together every week for a Zoom call on a Friday evening. I am sure we aren’t unique in that but it was the most effective way we have had of keeping in touch with how each of us was feeling and what was going on in our lives. It lacked the physical contact that we have always enjoyed as a family but those occasions are now returning and family life is returning to something closer to how it was before the pandemic hit.
At the same time another forum started in which I met with people who had attended an annual festival in Belfast called Wake. We were gathered from all over the world and for an hour a week we caught up on what was happening in our respective countries and our perspective on that. There was no real world equivalent to this gathering and it has established itself as a genuinely enjoyable time. We may all gather again in Belfast but it is not likely. That is ok though.
Of late I have become involved in a couple of groups organised by my good friend Barry Taylor. One is a weekly book group which has been really stimulating, covering some excellent books over the weeks. The second is a new and somewhat experimental venture called Radical Art Club. This group meets once a month (2 so far) and we talk about art in general and our personal creative experience. The first assignment was to create a self portrait and the photograph above is my effort. The image is a series of pictures of the members of my immediate family overlaid. As you look at different areas of the picture you catch glimpses of each of the subjects but never the full picture. This is how I feel about what/who my self is. It is so interleaved with the lives of these other people that it is difficult for me to determine where one starts and the other ends. Wherever you look you will find influences from them and beyond. I could have included friends in the image but that might have confused things (or clarified them?) and I also didn’t have sufficient access to the images. So the family is literal and representative of the relationships in my life that define who I am.