Being creative, is rather like stacking Lego bricks of all shapes, colours and sizes together blind-folded and having no destination at the start. Much of the time, at least for me, there’s no “end” at the beginning. So, it was when it came to photographing the diminishing remains of our gingerbread house…a Christmas treat. I had no idea what a few simple photographs would become.
The Gingerbread House in its Pristine State. Made by Bremen Patisserie, Australia.
Last night, after my daughter and I sliced off a few more walls of the gingerbread house, it looked like it had been bombed. The walls were barely upright and overnight the roof caved in and the house was all but destroyed. Yet, the little icing figurines were still smiling, which is a lot easier when you’re an icing figurine and your smile’s permanently drawn on.
Being the end of a year which many decreed an “annus horribilis”, I decided to photograph the crumbling gingerbread house and post it under the heading: “The End of the World”.
Getting treatment in hospital a few years ago.
No doubt, I was subconsciously relating back to a few years in my life where I couldn’t wait for the calendar to flip over to the new year. Times when I could sense a dreadful, all-pervading terror permeating through my bones, invading each and every cell. It was vile. Fortunately, my situation turned around but I’ll never forget. Nor, am I meant to forget because that pain is a hand reaching out to those who are still in that house of horrors and maybe, just maybe, I can help ease someone out. After all, I have been there. I know a way.
Perhaps, that’s why I decided to photograph its demise. There was that sense of connection…recognition of an interior state reflected in its crumbling exterior.
At the same time, the ongoing demolition of the gingerbread house, had great comic appeal. What started out as a perfect work of art with its gingerbread walls, iced snow and gorgeous little icing people, was being eaten alive by yours truly relaxing in her chair with a cup of tea. I could see a children’s movie with me cast as the giant villain…Nightmare on Gingerbread Street.
Anyway, as I said, this post was going to read: “The End of the World”.
However, when I took the house outside and photographed it with the sunflower rising behind it like the sun, the post turned on its head and became: “New Beginnings.”
Suddenly, there was hope.
Holding the sunflower.
That was when things started bubbling away in that great melting pot inside my head. That place where one idea not only leads to another, but somehow they also melt and fuse together, making something new and ultimately significant.
Sunflower seeds from the Ukraine
You see, the sunflower growing in my backyard is no ordinary sunflower. Rather, it was grown from seeds salvaged from the crash site of Malaysian Airlines Flight MH17 in the Ukraine. It’s grandparents witnessed the horror of that explosion in the sky and crashing devastation.
Yet, being sunflowers, they have no memory of that being passed down from generation to generation. Rather, oblivious to the past, their seeds keep falling to the ground, being eaten by birds and re-sprouting…ignorant.
While initially this might seem a better path, those aching memories also keep those who died alive in our hearts. Ultimately, as much as it hurts when we lose someone we love, we don’t want to forget. We don’t want to let go.
I didn’t take this photo thinking of the people living near Torez in Donetsk Oblast, a Ukrainian with their horrific, graphic memories set in stunning, sunflower fields. It was just like so many other creative ideas. What started out as photographing the leftovers of our gingerbread house, metamorphosed into something else.
It was only when I saw the little family with the sunflower rising up behind them like the sun, that I thought of the people in the Ukraine. I thought of the sun still rising and setting in the middle of their war torn homes, where a foreign plane fell like murdered bird from the sky. The plane and all its passengers and crew crashed into their backyards. That’s intimate, personal and sticks to your soul like glue.
I have never met and will never meet these people. There is nothing I can do as a distant Australian to ease their trauma and grief other than knowledge it with this photograph and send my love…the love of a stranger.
That is even though MH17 was shot down on 17 July 2014…two and a half years ago . Yet, just because these were civilian war time casualties, it doesn’t mean we’ll forget and ever stop striving for peace in our time and beyond.
Let’s keep sowing these seeds and helping them grow.
PS I have wondered why my sunflowers don’t look like conventional sunflowers and thought they must’ve been a different type. However, when I saw the photo of the original sunflower in the field, they also had the broad centres, which grow into vast numbers of seeds. This does concern me.
So, today I went and bought two bags of enriched potting mix and have planted 3 seeds in a small pot, saved one seed and planted the rest of the seeds in a huge pot.
I never pictured myself as a sunflower farmer. Or, you could just called me a “Sunfarmer”.
It has a certain ring to me!