On an emotional day in London last summer I decided to go for a walk along the South Bank. Things were all feeling a bit wobbly; I was just going through a break up, one of my closest friends was getting married and we were going out for his stag night later.
As I walked up from Waterloo, coming across the installations, exhibitions and public art in the ‘Festival of Love’ initially felt like a bit of a sick joke on behalf of the universe… However, it actually turned into a really therapeutic and beautiful day.
I will admit that there was some crying – a walk around The Museum of Broken Relationships is something everyone should do at least once. It’s a travelling collection of items donated by people from around the world commemorating romantic relationships that have ended. Each item was displayed with the story from the contributor about the relationship, possibly including how they met, how love grew, how it ended and the significance of the object. As well as tears, the stories spark laughter and empathy; there’s something magically human and very heart warming about the collection.
As any romantic relationship ends, I think there’s a temptation to question it and pull it apart with questions like ‘did you ever love me…?’ and ‘did it mean anything to you…?’. One of the guaranteed things in life is impermanence; like cherry blossom, toilet roll or oxygen, love can end or run out. But that doesn’t mean that it was never there. I think we do a disservice to love if we think question that it was ever present, just because it’s now gone… So my first illustration is a prayer not to doubt love:
The Festival of Love celebrated more than just the romantic kind, and served as a reminder that love is still all around us, even when we may feel our hearts breaking. The stag do afterwards was a fun occasion celebrating friendship and romance with cocktails and dancing. The wedding a few weeks later was beautiful, and the two grooms walked down the aisle together to All is Full of Love by Björk. It’s such an amazing song.
Living on my own again, I’ve recently bought some really sweet crockery that’s decorated with the word ‘love’ on every plate. It makes me smile to think I’m feeding love to the friends and family that come to visit me in my new home, especially as they have supported me so amazingly over the last few months. Illustration number two is a reminder that love is everywhere, and can be eaten for breakfast…
Now, all this talk of broken relationships and heart break may make illustration number three a hard sell. But I’ve been talking to a few single friends recently about love and listening to their cynicism and fear and completely understanding why they are fed up of putting themselves out there, or feel so settled in their single lives that they don’t really have much space for love. I get it, I do. We put too much emphasis on needing a romantic relationship to be complete, when we are all perfectly whole as single creatures.
Romantic love brings something extra and amazing into our lives. You can go a long way and have an incredible life on your own; but I can’t help but feel opening yourself to sharing with another person just brings something more. And it’s worth the fear and the pain and the scary things for all the other good stuff that comes with it. So, illustration number three is another prayer really, a prayer not to give up…