Sarah Britten Art

Paintings in lipstick

I need your words for these paintings

I’m painting works for an oncologist’s examination room, and I need your help.

First, a little bit of background. Cancer terrifies me. The thought that it could happen to me or someone I love is never far from my thoughts. I had a cancer scare once, in 2010, and for a few weeks I existed in a twilight zone of hope and fear.

But I’ve never had to visit an oncologist, and I can only imagine how it must feel to wait for the verdict. What if? What now?

Then an online friend I’ve known for around ten years (but never actually met) saw my post about giving away my paintings, and asked for something hopeful. When she told me what the paintings were for, I decided that it would make more sense to paint something from scratch. Whatever I painted, I decided, if should help make the experience of lying on this bed just a little more bearable:

This is where you come in. In trying to find the right kind of subject matter to paint, I realised this: I don’t have enough experience to draw on in order to express something truly meaningful. I’m convinced that only people who have dealt with cancer can connect with cancer patients in a way that is authentic and honest.

You share your thoughts on surviving cancer with your sense of self intact, and I’ll write your words into the paintings. That way, the patients who lie on this examination bed will be surrounded by the thoughts of those who know exactly what they’re going through, captured in the paint of these three images:

The Voices At Dawn triptych, before any words have been added in.

A hashtag is the easiest way to track what you have to say. Choosing a hashtag is always a challenge and I’ve tried to find one that isn’t already in use.  The title of the paintings is Voices At Dawn, so I’m going to use #VoicesAtDawn.

If you or anybody you know would like to share your thoughts about your experiences with cancer, then use #VoicesAtDawn and I’ll track them down. Space permitting, I’ll write as many of your words into the paintings as I can.

I’ll share work in progress on Instagram and Twitter and let you know when the paintings are finally in their new home.

A tiny unicorn, just because.

In the mean time, I’m handing over to you. Let’s see what we can create together.


4 thoughts on “I need your words for these paintings

  1. Cancer is bargaining with God while your hair slithers down your back in the shower and disappears down the drain. “Let me beat this bitch and I won’t ask you to make my hair grow back” Cancer is collapsing veins and the stench of vomit. Cancer is the suffocating cold fear that wakes you at 2 am to remind you that you aren’t ready to die. Cancer is your triumph over the tragedy that truncates the life of the young mom you chatted to in the waiting room. #VoicesAtDawn

  2. We caught it in time – I was lucky. Both times a minor op got rid of the offending cells. I am grateful.

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