Finding a way back.

Technically it's mostly about finding a way forward.

Time is tricky when significant things occur, I think now more than ever after we have collectively experienced an enforced break with Covid19 over the last 2 years perhaps we now all have timelines that feel messed up and confused, stories that somehow feel connected or even more disconnected. Community but also separation.

I recognise this feeling and the talk that surrounds it, the what the hell just happened vibe, the space, the fog.

2020 was supposed to be our return to 'normal', Floppy Toast was hoping for sort of jubilant return after being sidelined the previous 2 years with a brain tumour, one growing silently since birth that crept up with absolutely no warning, forcing a complete stop in everything back in 2018. I cant believe that was 4 years ago, the initial diagnosis feels like 18months ago. The problem with initial discovery and time, is you don't factor in much about what happens after. When the bomb has been diffused and there is joy, what happens with the bits you are left holding?

In a world where expectations are of 100% health or being 'back to who you are' - where is the space for what's been left.

How do you answer questions of how you are, when how you are is forever affected in some way, that you are absolutely OK but also not. I don't know what to do with questions on how I am. My answer mostly is I'm fine, which I am. We are all used to saying this instinctively, it's a good thing to say for the most part, it's self protecting, it cuts thru concern regardless of it being well intended and it's also what people need to hear from you. People who care for you and want you to be fixed and well, it makes them happy to hear that I am fine.

So recovery is tricky, physically and emotionally, theres lots of steps to negotiate. I think I sailed thru the initial impact of the tumour and the first 18months of recovery, I wasn't faking a good show, I'm a pretty straight up person but I genuinely felt unaffected at the time in-spite of the physical adjustments or people around me saying this is pretty significant, I was like meh, just a wee blip, super lucky it was benign etc etc.

And I still feel this way about that initial stage, like when your body shuts down due to something significant and sends all its energy away from your extremities to keep the heart going, bodies are phenomenal really, so I'm still tied up in how lucky we were and are.

But what happens now? When you want to 'be back' but also you're not sure if you want to be back?

It's taken me a lot longer to feel like I want to return to art - to my work. I'm not sure if it was/is creative block or just a reluctance to being present publicly again with Floppy Toast, saying hey we are here, but also still feeling as if I don't yet have a body I can rely on, an underling fear of disruption again. It's been a struggle to come back. I didn't want to feel obligated to return all shiny shiny and just pick up the mantle and continue. What if i couldn't, what if i decide no? I have picked up the mantle many times and then placed it back down again. Reluctance and uncertainty.

I realise this sounds like a mid life crisis.

I have a studio full of new work and old. It's a wildly varied mix of colourful, dark, expressively hopeful art. I see art created in bursts of being OK and then not OK again. I see tension and a lot of work done over a small period of time and then nothing for a while. I see me and I see my family and I think maybe other people may see themselves amongst that also, especially now.

Going forward then is about working inside the space my head allows, it means doing it regardless and sometimes not. It means being absolutely fine and absolutely not. It means getting used to an interrupted timeline and being frustrated. It's about sharing and then not. I've always been a person interested in hidden stories, the stuff we don't see or easily say maybe. I much prefer a conversation with a few than with many, and the last few years have solidified that in me. I see people differently, some of them are still plebs; but I wonder a lot more about who they are and where they have been, and why.

Finding a way back for me then is maybe more about finding a way thru, or around.

It's the meandering path with more wild grasses, tripping over the odd weed, room enough for many. But there are some pretty cool people on this path, creative and not, all sorts.

And it's good just to be here, using my voice and my art in new ways and familiar.

We are showing work publicly as part of Brightons 2022 Artists Open Houses in May for the first time since any of this happened, so stop by and say hello if you are in the area, come see what we've been doing, have a chat and a look around.

Let's celebrate returns and all that it changes.

Tracy @ Floppy Toast - Brighton AOH - Hanover Trail, House Number 5.