When I was a child floating above a reef I encountered a shark. I had swum out there to assure myself I would never see one. I don’t think I ever went back to a reef and gradually I stopped swimming. Now I don’t have baths either and I think about sharks everyday.
When I shower I’m in an underwater cage with them swimming about behind the tiles. When I walk to work in the morning it is still night. I walk in the middle of the road and imagine I’m walking underwater through a channel dividing a reef and they’re all about me.
I turn all sorts of things into them. The ironing board, the kitchen table as parked cars hover above the ground with the same presence. I’ve seen gills in the radiator and a mouth in the toilet.
Last year they started approaching me in front of other people.
I’ve become afraid of hallucinating. Every time I open the door to our hall I expect to find something more tangible than my imagination. And then I don’t, and I wonder how much further all this has to go.
My partner helped me dismantle digital images of sharks by hand and reassemble them as paintings. I never saw the image I was working on, just the abstract shards, each in turn as I transferred the information onto paper.
I don’t want to see a shark but I would like to see my paintings.
Helen Poyser 2009