How a testimonial becomes a gift

Hi there
I was planning to write a blog post about the sea, my main source of inspiration, however it seemed that other plans were in motion.

Being just back from my holidays in my father’s land, I decided to clear the studio in order to have it well organised for this summers encaustic workshops. Going through piles of handwritten papers, notes and drawings I came across a typed page given to me last year after an encaustic demonstration organised at the University of Limerick. I remember this day very well. I had been invited to talk about my work as an encaustic artist and what inspire me. Present that day were a group of creative writers. I do remember vividly spending hours with those highly creatives women, sharing ideas and talking animatedly about what bring awe in our lives.



A week later, the facilitator of the creative writing group contacted me. She wanted to forward a text written by one of the ladies present. She also told me that the piece was inspired by my talk. I was a bit scared, had I offended someone?
I am always in awe how momentous moments in life remain untouched in our memory.
I was siting at my kitchen table .
A cup of coffee was filling the room with her sweet aroma…and tears could not stop .
floodgates had opened.
Her words, her style, her beauty, her sheer honesty touched me deeply. And still do. This letter was beyond an encaustic workshop estimonial.
This letter, this open heart, this offering given freely was a gift.
Touching someone soul is rare.
She has touched mine.

Here are her words, untouched.

NB: the author wishes to remain anonymous .

‘I noticed it for the first time on the day I viewed the self portraits in the university. It was a sensation or feeling hard to put into words. I thought at first it was a sense of loss but I don’t think it’s possible to feel a sense of loss for something you’ve never had. I suddenly felt as though I had been living my life at a disadvantage, because I hadn’t been told the full story or hadn’t seen the bigger picture, both literally and figuratively. An opportunity for another dimension of happiness had been bypassed somewhere on life’s road. I felt cheated and hoodwinked, that this hidden world of visual and tangible treats for the senses has somehow evaded me. Until that day it is as though I had been prevented from experiencing parts of life great pleasures, and I found myself getting both angry and sad simultaneously. Though I had admiration for them, I was also envious of these people, who had dared to live their lives freely expressing themselves. Individuals who had the audacity and bravery to live life as they wished. Enjoying freedom outside the box of convention and expectation.
Within my mind a door was opening, and a veil was lifted from my eyes. It was as though I suddenly became aware that I had been deprived of aspects of life which brought deep meaningful experiences, capable of stirring the senses in a whole new way, that I never knew existed. Despite my previous lack of insight and exposure to this new realm I found that I possessed the ability to appreciate its beauty. That day a barrier was lifted and a tsunami of new, stirring and profound feelings came crashing in and flooded my soul.
Again they washed over me , on the day I sat engrossed in the words of Isabelle Gaborit. A fascinating woman, like a mythical creature from a fairytale. I could have watched and listened to her for hours, hypnotised and captivated. Her accent perfectly suiting her persona adding to her charm and mystique. Though I was enthralled by her love of all things creative, her voice was so hypnotic and evocative that I could just as easily have listened to her read out pages from the Constitution of Ireland.
Like a rare flower, that seldom blooms, she opened up adding beauty and colour to my life for a brief moment in time. I was transported to a romantic world of vivid graphic layers and textures that I could almost reach out and touch. She spoke with enthusiasm and passion for what she loves that I was overwhelmed with a sense of longing to be part of it. She had such magical wistful aura about her that I yearned to exist in her world. An interest in paganism only served to make her more alluring and I was bewitched by her intriguing accounts of visits to holy wells and sacred sites. I too wanted to surround myself with statues of the Celtic goddesses and the Virgin Mary. There was nothing for it, if I had any hope of becoming a pagan, I would have to rob the Infant of Prague and Padre Pio statues that had pride of place on my mothers mantelpiece.
Isabelle’s words conjured up images of hooded figures dancing around open fires, fanning the flames of spirits and sorcery. I was in no doubt that her charming character was capable of mesmerising anyone she encounter, as it had an infectious quality, and certainly cast a spell on me.

I was overwhelmed with a desire to create something expressive and unique, to be whimsical and unpredictable. To cast off the bonds of constraint and conformity that had crippled and strangled my individuality and uniqueness . I could visualise I myself announcing to my mother that I had a very real hankering to devote my life to painting, only to hear her reply ‘for Gods sake, sur’ you still haven’t finished the bathroom ceiling’ ! Instantly sticking in a pin and bursting my bubble, deflating my ballon of dreams…
Was that what happened? Had my spirit been stifled? Had my seeds of imagination or artistic flair been left unnourished? Like buds that dared to raise their head above the earth were they trampled on lest they would flourish?
Isabelle had not been suppressed and inhibited. She had the confidence and flamboyance that I was in awe of as she stood before me. In that moment every fibre of my being wanted to BE Isabelle Gaborit the free spirit, quirky and bohemian, frantically throwing molten beeswax at a canvas of care free abandon. I wanted to tear the wallpaper off my mothers walls and stick it on a board with her photos and varnish over them. I wanted to walk around pensively making memory maps. All the while knowing that instead of looking windswept and wise, I would just look dishevelled and deranged!
No, sadly I had to accept my limitations. There was only ONE Isabelle Gaborit, and though I only spent fleeting moments in her company, somehow my world seemed all the richer for it.’