I have a recurring dream. In this dream the house, or place, in which I live has an area I cannot go. Sometimes the home is a modern apartment, other times it’s a converted factory, or a repurposed school, or a place I used to live, or somewhere completely alien to me. Every time there is a dark area in which I cannot go. It can be a lift shaft, a basement, a cellar in an old castle, a locked room, or an attic.
This place that I cannot go is always very damp. Sometimes there is water running down the walls and holes in the ceiling letting in the rain. It smells old and oppressive. The floor is difficult to navigate and I often stumble after a few steps of trying to enter. The air is thick and hard to breathe. This place is always small enough that I can see the walls but it is always windowless. There is only one entry in or out of this place.
More than anything though, this place has a presence. It has something here, living here, that doesn’t want me to enter. It does not make a noise and I cannot see it but I know it’s there. I can feel it. Often, when I know I am in this place, I turn back immediately. Other times I feel brave enough to enter and see if I can conquer this place. I am always aware that this is only a dream. Surely there is nothing here that can hurt me?
It is always cold here. I get goosebumps and as I try to enter. These chills suck all the heat out of my body and my legs freeze. I am stuck. There is no way forward. There is never any way forward. If I don’t choose to turn back and leave then something pushes me and slowly forces me back. I have goosebumps writing this now and remembering this place.
After leaving, my dream continues as it was before. The characters of my dream behave as if nothing untoward has happened. I have to pretend that I am okay and go along with the charade but inside I’m shaking. I walk past the door, the opening, the crack, to the place I cannot go and I know. I know that this place will return to me again and I will never conquer it.
When I wake I try to erase the feelings of this place from my mind. The only way I’ve found to do this is through my art. My art can feel uncomfortable, uncanny, unkind, but when I look at them I see relief and release. The faces I create bring me recognition and comfort because I feel they understand the torment of the place I cannot go.
You can see more of these images at the Glynn Vivian Gallery in Swansea until the middle of February or CLICK HERE to see more from this series.