I was pretty excited to see that Peter Wegner was exhibiting these drawings together at Australian Galleries. A few of these drawings won the Rick Amor drawing prize back in 2016. I really, really wanted to see them altogether. The collection is in a smaller exhibition space, which lends itself to being a place of calm and reflection. Which is what these tender and delicate drawings need.
Being there took me to a lot of places, I reflected on how the process of death is a privilege to be part of. How caring for the dying is much like caring for a newborn – mixed with extreme drama and the relentless monotony.
I think we are not privy to this process as much as we should be .Perhaps if we were we would keep ourselves a little more in check about what actutally matters in this life and what is the most precious – which is the time we have. Here. Together.
The drawings are delicate, intimate and fragile in subject and this is echoed with the rendering of each drawing with such a fine line. The folds of limbs and the partially opened mouth remind me of the later stages in the death process – where one can fall asleep halfway through a gesture, halfway through folding an arm or a leg. Like a beautiful little baby.
I thought about my own experience – my father in law sick and dying, being cared for in his home. I remembered things like the green paste applied to his lips and the teeth. His dry eyelids. His hands – still very much his hands while the rest of his body changed. How my daughter became scared and didn’t know what to do, didn’t know how to say goodbye. And after he died I was struck by how he still looked like him yet he looked like every other human being that has ever lived and died on this earth. I remember the body bag being zipped up over his mouth and nose and my very brief panic – oh he won’t be able to breathe, no he isn’t breathing anymore. Then I did the laundry. I washed the sheets that he passed in, the pillowcase he rested his head on. I didn’t want his partner or his son to have to deal with that, the fucking laundry.
See where art can take you?
This exhibition will stay with me for a very long time. It’s the reminder I needed about both life and about drawing. Creating things what remind me of being human, creating things with the love and respect we all need and deserve.