Note from Penny

Here is a small tale of life before I came to be at Millbrig. You will of course have your own interpretation of the pictures, and of your own experiences that may, or may not be mirrored somewhere here… 

Picture 1 - ‘Internal Prison’ by Penelope Wells

This picture represents internal restraints, the imprisoning I felt when in a previous relationship. There are, of course, certain ways of behaving in our society and we, therefore, internally adjust our behaviour, or internalise these external codes of behaviour, as deemed appropriate, by the bureaucratic system around us. I was inspired by reading Max Weber (1864-1920), as well as by how I felt at the time.

The prison bars represent how I felt trapped inside, and these are centred in the middle of the page, as I felt this in my stomach, the centre of my body. The reason why there are two sets of bars, is because one set are mine, and one set are the constraints felt by the other person in the relationship. However, these are not aligned, as their constraints were very different to mine.

There is hope in this picture. That is to say, there is light shining out from behind the black prison bars, and I knew even then, that my life was not at an end, but that the story was to be continued…hence the three dots.

But in a sense I felt that my life had to continue, not just because of a general feeling of hope that shone through, but because I had three children, therefore each of the green dots also represents each one of them, and together they have helped move the story onwards.

Picture 2 - ‘Explosion’ by Penelope Wells

There is only so much heat and light that matter can take before an explosion occurs, and that is what  is represented here. The relationship ended, and the shared constraints, and the prison bars, and everything else, including the children, scattered to the four corners of the earth.
I asked a friend about the change of colour in the background, from red (picture one) to purple (in this picture) which was due to the fact that I had used up the red pastel, and could not afford to buy more. They kindly put me at ease by suggesting that in extreme heat, flames change from red to purple anyhow, so all is perfectly in order.
My eldest child at that time went almost completely out of the picture, my middle child was more or less away from all the heat, but my youngest was the most affected by the explosion, so is positioned nearest the centre of it. When the dust settled, the others drifted by more closely again, although each is carving their own life now, which is truly wonderful. 

Picture 3 - ‘Calm after the storm’ by Penelope Wells

This picture represents my offspring as they bob about on life’s great ocean. In this case, I am supporting them, so as their mother, I am the sea that carries them, in the natural way. However, I carry each of them in different ways, which is why there are three separate currents or strands running across the canvas. The ‘strands’ clearly run off the edge of the picture, and this indicates that there are other things I carry that are not visible to them or to the viewer. 

The oldest child is by definition the ‘biggest’, and floats ahead of the other two. The middle one is floating, but just slightly weighed down, or ‘anchored’, in ways that the other two are not. The third, about the ‘same size’ as the middle one, is elevated like the first, and (if you look closely) the ‘gap’ between her and the middle one, is bigger than the ‘gap’ between the first and second, which brings in the only temporal aspect here – that of their ages.
This picture differs from the other two, which reflect a particular time in my  life, a relationship and a break-up.  But this last one depicts an infinite period of time. I hope that my support for them will continue, long after I am not around. And I thank Steve for ensuring that our music will always be around in cyberspace, whenever they need..

Picture 4 - Aberdeen has not served us well
This picture was painted at the end of a bad period, when I felt that live music was being brought down by dark forces.As a band, Millbrig, we wanted to fly over Aberdeen, but it was a stressful year of unpaid pub gigs, driving miles to folk clubs, often waiting three hours for a two-song slot, crashing to bed at 3am, and then trying to function at work the next day . We began to question why people pay for everything in their lives, except for music!  Luckily, we were able to focus on the second album, instead of worrying about the way the world is. We are proud of Aberdeen, our city, represented by the balloon with a sketchy version of the coat of arms (changed to represent men and women). But those dark forces are always trying to bring creativity down!