Friday, 25 August 2017


The idea of having suitcase (or sometimes a rucksack) full of things than weigh me down has been part of my inner life for many years. So many in fact that I'm surprised this theme has not so far made it into one of my journals ...  I wrote a poem about it many years ago, which I'll include later.

When I began I already had the leather suitcase images - in my imagination it was something small and battered, a bit like the one Paddington kept his sandwiches in.  The strong orange colours of the leather really needed a neutral background to put them against.

The image below probably doesn't look like much but its an interesting technique - you paint the page and then wipe or blot some of it off with a baby wipe.  A quick and easy way to get texture into what would otherwise be a flat page. This picture was taken in natural light.
So then, now working in artificial light (see the colour difference?), down went the suitcases and the beginnings of what I wanted to say.
The rest quickly followed, as did the corner piece of very Aboriginal influenced pattern.  The white was really necessary to help things stand out from the beige, and the other colours pick up the shades of the leather.  I tend to work tone on tone, using shades of the same colour, and its quite hard to persuade me to use more than one.  This is a failing I must try to overcome.
And then ... I just drew on it (the doodling is my favourite part). Starting with strong black outlines, I added texture using circles, dots and lines.  These are all Aboriginal artists ever use, painted with a stick, and I have learned to be amazed by just how much you can do with such simple shapes.
Again the white dots or bubbles seemed necessary to lift the piece from the background.  I just sort of follow my heart when I get to this point, and see what turns up!

And in case what I've said here doesn't entirely make sense to you - the workings of my mind often being mysterious, even to my nearest and dearest - here as promised is the original poem, written in 2001.


Like Paddington Bear I have this suitcase,
Brown-battered leather, hand luggage only,
Yet large enough to contain
All the fears, failings and foolishness
Which I think I may hide from myself,
Or my God.
The true extent of its contents
Remains unfathomable, although
Tardis-like, there is room enough
For a lifetime of secrets.

Now and then He catches me
Tiptoeing down the landing to hide the suitcase
Somewhere I may deny its existence or ownership.
Discovered and guilty, I must reveal All that it contains;
Accumulated pain of years, yet known and familiar
So kept close, strangely comforting.

When the case is empty I feel foolish,
But forgiven and free, lighter,
And I can leave without the baggage I have carried
For too long.

Alas Lord, sooner or later
I get myself another suitcase
And start to fill it again.
Will you meet me on the landing one more time,
Before it gets too heavy to carry?

Rosie Radcliffe  2001

PS Thank you for your good wishes, and yes I am feeling better :) 


Anonymous said...

a lovely page and a sentiment I can truly understand. No matter how many times I put my suitcase down, I can't quite leave without it. I have also been looking at aboriginal art recently and like the geometric designs of them. Take care and thank you for your pages

alexa said...

A very striking page, Rosie - I love it. There will be many who can identify with your thoughts and wishes. And how perceptive that even when we do eventually put down one suitcase, we get ourselves another; and we realise it's not having the suitcase we need to work on, but what is it inside ourselves that prompts us to have one in the first place. Your 'aboriginal' art is beautiful. I have to say that I don't see it as a failing to use tones rather than lots of different colours: it feels harmonious, and the white is a lovely contrast. I am so glad to hear you are feeling improved :).

Cath Wilson said...

Gorgeous work as ever - and you're so good at being open, bless you!

Thanks for sharing - I have the exact same problem and when I do ~ finally ~ learn to give it to God, I soon take it back. But alleluia! That's why we need Jesus! And where would we be without his amazing, forgiving love and acceptance?

Glad you're feeling better.

Praying for you.

Cath x

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