I bought this painting in Bali during our post-treatment family holiday. Travelling around the island one sees a number of artistic styles and themes repeated from place to place, aimed at the tourist market. Close-ups of Buddha’s face, detailed tropical forest scenes and bright, impressionistic paintings of local people seem to be everywhere. There is nothing original about my woman in blue. But she caught my eye in a gallery a short distance from Ubud, and we haggled over her still-damp, thwacked-onto-canvas form. When the boys asked why I chose this painting, I explained that it was my ‘strong woman’ picture. They seemed to get why this appealed to me at the time – my hair barely an inch long, my arm encased in a compression stocking during our plane flights. On bringing her home and having her framed, I decided that I wanted to hang her next to my side of our bed.
Now, during these scary, early-remission days, I like looking at her as I get up each morning. She provides a healthy reminder that by contrast to countless women around the globe, my life – cancer and all – is an easy one. But mostly, I like the nonchalance with which she carries her heavy burden. I imagine her putting out her dawn offerings to the gods, praying that they will be kind but accepting that they may not be. At peace with this uncertainty she lifts her basket, counterbalancing its weight with a sashay of her hips, and steps purposefully into the fray.
She may not be great art, but I love my woman in blue.