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Wubunginya (Under the water; to enter, to dive)

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2021
101cm x 76cm
acrylic on canvas

Topic: Mirror

The word mirror made me think immediately about the unique perspective of the act of looking in the mirror.

I have no investment in what I see in the mirror being even remotely close to what others see when they look at me. Though it made me consider what I see looking back at me in the mirror.

The immediate answer was a stranger. Someone I walk around in. I sat with that a bit longer because it didn’t feel like the whole story. After long consideration, it occurred to me that what I see when I look back at myself are those aspects of me that are not visible to others. In the case of this self portrait I’ve produced the feeling of intensity that I manage daily.

I have a couple of acquired brain injuries. One from contracting encephalitis as a 7y/o, from swimming at Bullcock Beach at Caloundra when they used the channel as a sewerage outlet, and the other from a head injury when I was ran over by a car in Buderim when I was 16y/o. The impacts of the first ABI were never immediately apparent nor understood, I just continued on as was the way in those days.

However, the impacts of the second ABI remain with me 24/7 to this day. When I was hit by the car, I went some distance through the air (around 15-20m) and landed on my head before sliding along the bitumen. I was unconscious for 3 days after having severe seizures in the emergency department of Nambour hospital.

When I woke on the third day, I was, and remain, permanently enraged. This along with low self-esteem and self loathing fuelled me to aggression and violence. This was a path for me until I was in my late 20s when I had a watershed experience that had me accept that I needed to manage what was happening between my ears.

If I had continued down that path, I’d either be dead or someone else would be dead, and/or worse, I’d be doing time. So I made a change to manage and learn from the result of that injury.

To this day I remain permanently enraged. I painted what I think isn’t visible to others and what I see looking back at me in the mirror, the intensity and energy of that I injury which has been one of my most significant learnings this time around.

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