I made this artwork for an exhibition of the same name: Tenderness.
What is tenderness?
Google gives a definition in two parts: 1. gentleness and kindness; kindliness. 2. sensitivity to pain; soreness.
Tenderness is always both a feeling and the verb.. In order to feel gentleness and kindness, you have to open yourself up. The risk and flipside to opening up is that you also become tender in the other sense - you’ve got more of an ability to feel pain.
And so, my ballerina dances on a tightrope. Open wide to delightful feeling, almost dancing towards it - at the same time aware she could fall and get hurt. But she’s got grace and determination, this woman. She’s not afraid to lean into loving, she ain’t afraid to fall. Because if she does, she’ll get right back up, and any bruises she’s got will have been so worth it, because the feeling of tenderness, of being wide open to feeling, is the best pleasure in the whole damn world.
I made this photograph by first writing the word tenderness on a piece of paper, then placing the glass rectangle paperweight which held the ballerina on top of the paper. I then shot through the glass. I then worked in Photoshop to create the texture , colour and areas of sharpness. The colour red for tenderness is very purposeful. It’s the colour of love and passion, and also of course, of our blood. Our blood is the thing which courses in us, makes us passionate for someone, makes us want to give and receive tenderness. It’s also the thing that feels like it’s spilt when we’re cut deep by the ending of love, which comes to us all in some form or other in a fully lived life.
Of course, context is everything. Seen here above Phoebe’s bed during the tenderness project, my ballerina turns into hope and dreams and sweetness. I especially love the wee knitted toy in the bottom of this shot, which is Phoebe’s childhood favourite.
The artwork is produced as an exhibition print, A1 [59.4x84.1]cm in size, in a limited edition of 5, plus artist proof. It is shown here in a gentle white frame, with beautiful museum glass.