About Love and Light - Geraldine Cox
I have to mention that it is not in my interest to paint portraits of other people just because they are famous. Rather, I have to be mentally urged by some personal, social and aesthetic impetus in order to engage in such artistic involvements.
In 2007, I painted a series of portraits of the Australian children from parents with diverse cultural backgrounds, which I wanted to exhibit in Adelaide: Multicultural Children's Portrait . By recommendation of a friend, I asked Geraldine to open my exhibition. Geraldine replied to my email with “Salaam, hale shoma chetoure?”, “Hello how are you” in Iranian language. This surprising greeting continued by her accepting to open my exhibition and then telling me about her Iranian husband and her time living in Iran. An intimate connection was established; the kind tone of communication, the rich spiritual connotation of the message, and the ending phrase of “Love and Light” did it all.
I gradually became more and more familiar with Geraldine and her touching life story, and got inspired by her humanitarian activities, which led me to came up with an idea of a creative partnership with her. I proposed taking a two-week self-funded residency in Cambodia, teaching the children drawing and painting, taking photos and videos, which provided opportunities for me to become familiar with the children’s personalities and characters. I suggested that upon return to Australia, I would paint a series of children’s portrait that would reflect their culture and their natural environment: Sunrise Children's Portraits The portraits then would be sold for the benefit of the orphanage.
My trip to Cambodia was an opportunity to experience her inspiring company, to enjoy her enthusiastic willingness and eagerness for encouraging children to learn and enjoy art.
Before I left Cambodia, Geraldine asked me to go back for another two weeks in order to paint a mural on their music building.
After preparing a detailed design for the mural, I went back to Cambodia to tackle the huge task of painting a large mural . This was another opportunity to be with Geraldine, stay in her home, cook together her favourite Iranian food, and ask her permission to paint a portrait of her.
In order to decide about her dress for the portrait, she tried few ones so we could chose the best one suited for a photography session. Her house was painted and decorated in dark brown and orange, so without hesitation, I favoured the orange dress, which was handmade with a Cambodian textile design. Geraldine had been diagnosed with breast cancer and had surgical interventions. I noticed that the dress could slightly reveal some of her physical condition.
During our photography session, I asked her to imagine circumstances in which she had opportunity to convey her thoughts and feeling to viewers just by looking at them. I noticed that she was sweating, while standing firm on her bare feet on the wooden floor and getting support by her hand on a wooden bench. I asked her what she was thinking about, and why she was sweating. She answered that she was thinking about her children and their future; therefore, she became emotional and started sweating. Subsequently, she sat few times for sketching and a small sized painting.
Upon return to Australia, I used my photos and drawing and painting to paint the portrait; however, I encountered with difficulty due to unclear dress designs and patterns. I wanted to show them in my painting. Therefore, I asked her to send me the orange clothe, which became my live model during the painting process.
I intended the portrait to reflect her strong character, her physical and mental condition, her beautiful soul resonating love and light.