Captured in the film ‘A Love Worth Giving’ and shortly after Sam passed away, I began working on my largest piece to date. There is a location halfway up a bridleway towards Moundsmere Manor, in Preston Candover, where Sam and I lived. Sam grew up seeing this very vista when walking the family dog. The spot from which you can overlook farmland and beautiful Hampshire countryside was known to family as ‘second gateway’. I wanted to immortilise this view from this location, where some of Sam’s ashes were subsequently scattered and a cherry-blossom tree planted in memorium, in oils. After several months of painting from the depths of my soul, I created “Second Gateway”.
At five by four feet in size, it occupied most of my living room. I held onto it as long as I could, exhibited it as part of the Art Transplant exhibition at Magdalen College, and hanging it in my house, but I couldn’t keep it. The last time Sam saw this view, she was too unwell to climb the hill to get to it. At the time Sam was on oxygen 24/7 and needed a wheelchair to get around. So I pushed her to the second gateway. We sat and ‘breathed in’ the view. I felt that the peace it gave Sam could give peace to other cystic fibrosis sufferers. In November 2014, “Second Gateway” was donated to the Royal Brompton Hospital, London, UK. It was specifically gifted to Foulis Ward, where Sam received excellent care and where she sadly lost her fight with Cystic Fibrosis. The painting now belongs to Royal Brompton and Harefield Arts and is part of their collection and has the Keatsian quote “‘Beauty is truth, truth beauty,’ – that is all ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.” from Ode to a Grecian Urn (one of Sam’s favourite Keats’ poems) beside it.
My hope is that during the stress and trauma of hospital admissions, patients and families may be able to escape, if only for a short while, whilst peering into this painting. I hope that it brings them just as much peace as it did Sam.