Isaac Dylan Munro Moyston Born Kingston, Jamaica on August 27 1997. Died Orillia Ontario, Canada on February 9 2011. I painted my way through grief with these paintings They were my release. I had the words but could not say them out loud, not honestly so I painted. I painted my pain, my fear, my tiredness, my loss, my bewilderment. I felt like I was on my knees, pictures were my language and I did not feel I had to explain it or justify it to anyone. It is 26 years since Isaac was born and some of these paintings have been lost, given away, some are cracking and flaking, they are slowly dissolving, the heat is unkind to them. I wanted to save them somehow so have collected them together. This is how it felt. Time doesn't heal, it does not fade, it finds other places to settle but it lays claim to you, it belongs to you always. It is alright, it is the gossamer threads that keep me attached to Isaac and I carry them all, tied and twisted and I will carry them always and there will be more, my brother before him, my mother after but it is Isaac that broke me open, it is Isaac that was my joy and pain, the most beautiful and the hardest. I am publishing this now, although it is not finished, I will return to it........
Isaac This is the first painting I did after Isaac was born. The drawers were from a cabinet my mother had, it was an antique used to keep birds eggs in.
Death don't have no Mercy. It was just pain in those days and loss. Lost for words, finding the beauty in the imperfect, in the death of things. The Butterfly is called a Mourning Clock. I was listening to Van Morrison 'Death don't have no Mercy'. I remembered the stain glass windows from a church in Debden, Essex that I had visited with my father. The underside of lizards you only really see in death. Things trying to grow with very little root systems but hope looks stronger than the 'grief, pain, loss.....' Those days were dark.
Angels and Butterfly. I just wanted to hide from my life. I wanted to close my eyes and it would all go away. The Angels are Jacob and Isaac and I did hope to have another baby, that is the yellow butterfly. The knife through the heart tattoo is how my heart felt.
Almost Always Sad, Almost. I was, I was just sad a lot. I gave this painting to my Mother, after she died I couldn't find it.
The Dream Catcher. A Canadian neighbour gave me a dream catcher, the story of them spoke to me, it catches bad dreams, Isaac is falling and he is wearing his first pair of shoes, I bought in Norwich (UK), beautiful expensive little boots, he is wearing a butterfly outfit, in the meantime my heart is ripped out of my chest and my organs are raw and hurt and I am crying, the dream catcher is broken and crying too. This is one of my favourite paintings. it is 23 years later and it is flaking and cracking so I have to let it go........its is beyond repair I think or I don't know how to repair it.
After Annie. Annie jumped from a building. Annie was sick. My insides are always out, I am trying to protect them.
My Life at 40. I painted this to commemorate my 40th birthday. I am living in Jamaica, I am trying to put down roots, Elijah is two and holding my knee, Jacob used to hug me around the waist and Isaac is holding my heart. Chu has his hand over my mouth. I am in the middle (maybe) of my life, so the blocks of sky represent, youth, middle and old age.
Breakfast with Isaac. We are living in Ontario now. This is Breakfast with Isaac. Daily regime of medicines, there is a tea towel over his shoulder to wipe up any spills, my mother gave me the green leather gloves and my father paid for the subscription to The Weekly Telegraph, in that edition, David Camerons son Ivan has just died, he was a special needs child. That little tin teapot I bought in Amsterdam it actually came from Afghanistan, I have always wanted to go there. The cereal bowl has been left by one of the boys, the placemat is from Jamaica, a gift from one of my sisters in law. The tea is in a big mug that had a Rice Krispy logo on it or something it, broke soon after.
Accept and Release. It is accepting new circumstances, new countries, new cultures and letting the old ones go.
Isaac and the Medicine Pouch. Isaac was sick a lot. My friend Ross Baines gave me a little felt doll, wrapped in a papoose. I wanted to wrap Isaac in one and attach to him a medicine pouch, so I painted it.
Family portrait. I was interested in First Nations masks and their meanings. Chu - Grizzly Bear mask (strength, family, vitality, courage, health) Isaac - Kwagiulth Moon (protector and guardian of the earth, transformation) Elijah - Bear and Frog (wealth, abundance, divine power, magic, prevent loss) Jacob - Sea Shaman (powerful, respected, access to the world of good and evil spirits).
Untitled. This does not have a date but it would have been painted at the same time as the dead Isaac. The butterflies represent freedom, flying and no more breathing.
Isaac is dead. He died 9 February 2011 in Orillia, Ontario, Canada about 11 in the morning. He was thirteen and a half.
Under the Tree of Sorrow. I was on my knees with grief. I painted how it felt. A lot of hurting I painted it red, tears, always tears, everything crying and always birds, the messengers, I was surrounded by them, it was winter, the hurt stains the snow, the roots were fortified by it, it coloured the earth. The messengers carry the words 'Isaac nineteen ninety seven until' 'two thousand and eleven stay with me heart keeper' I heard 'heart keeper' in a song.
What Remains. My grief feels like this. I painted it long before I knew of this quote by Charlotte Bronte. "There is, I am convinced, no picture that conveys in all its dreadfulness, a vision of sorrow, despairing, remediless, supreme. If I could paint such a picture, the canvas would show only a woman looking down at her empty arms". That is it, despairing remediless sorrow. A life long homesickness. Constant longing.
My life at 50. Canada, perpetual mourning, I will never take off the veil, it is invisible to all of you but I wear it always. Chus hand is on my shoulder, Jacob around my shoulders he is taller than me now and Elijah is holding on around my waist. I am still trying to put down roots, I am inching towards the darkness - the end part of life, not all the way there yet.
The Sky is Falling. I paint this in Jamaica, it has been a hard transition for me and I do feel like the sky is falling, the dream catcher has unravelled the bird is dead, the lizard falling, the moth, the feathers attached to the beginning of the childrens names, we are all falling.
The Messenger and the Hibiscus. Its Canada and Jamaica.
Sleeping Bird I
Sleeping Bird II
Sleeping Bird III
What Lies Beneath I Swimming is my freedom, my body moves freely, my head is under water, my ears block with water and I always say "Issey it's Mummy" because somehow it is quiet enough for him to hear me. I often lie on my belly and hold my breath for as long as I can and I let the water turn me over, I know what floating dead might feel like.
What Lies Beneath II I lie on my back and stretch my arms over head and let go of everything. The dragon fly - Dragon flies are born in water, they represent growth, transformation, impermanence.