Aoife in the cosmos.
In the 3 and a half years since I moved to Mexico, initially inspired by its celebrations of dias de los muertos where the dead are honoured and celebrated, ironically and perhaps poetically death has rocked me 4 times. Out of those 4 times, 3 were young, shocking and unexpected .
This ultimate death these last few weeks has pulled the grounded carpet from under my feet.
The last time I saw my friend Aoife Mckim was over lemonades in Hackney I was busy preparing our cactus and creatures show in 2017 and she as usual was buzzing around in her white or maybe now chrome coloured van putting her all into the creative aesthetics of films, we as usual condensed honest declarations and summaries of the various life happenings we’d experienced and endured since the last time we spoke and exchanged dreams for the future of how our lives might look, she as usual made me giggle with her dry self deprecating humour and delicious honesty. Always dressed in a feria of colour and pattern, Aoife’s dress sense sang to my own and she and her dulcet Lewis tones were gorgeous. I met Aoife around 10 years ago when I was younger, fresher and starting to explore the possibilities of working in the art department in films. She took me under her wing and showed me the ropes and we exchanged tales of life and love during the long drives and long hours between sets. It quickly became clear we shared vision and our spirits sang true to one another, and from that moment on she was loyal and generous to our friendship . I felt honoured and admirous. Our exchanges alway filled me with feelings of potential and visual fun. She was incredibly funny, quick and witty, she made me snort and laugh hard.
I’m not sure what happened, I guess life swooped me up with all its details and the long distance of 5000 miles between my life in México and her in her long hours of film grafting in London. our lifestyles gave us sporadic patterns of contact but when we did connect, we connected like no time had passed at all with real love and attention and hilarity.
I lost track of time, I became engulfed in my work, my art and a juicey México life.
And after a weekend of building giant soft props of boobs and eggs and arms and leopard print forms in one of the oldest houses and neighbourhoods in Mexico city, trying to replicate the feelings of a womb and soothing soft side boob of your mother, the flowers of the proppy seeds she planted in me.
I got an email from a mutual friend saying she was in a hospice and had a rare and aggressive type of stomach cancer which had spread to her ovaries, it had all happened very fast.
I was in a hot teachers bus back from Huixquilucan and the news fell on my chest like a ton of bricks. Shocking written info difficult to comprehend, to imagine, to soak in. In such a quick amount of time? How did I not know, she was sick. What the fuckkkk.
The email encouraged me to write to her as she was planning on taking medication to help her comfortably pass away in the next week. I welled up thinking about all the feelings she must have as a young woman suddenly finding herself on her deathbed in her 30s.The pain, the fear, the regrets, the pool of aching loved ones which surrounded her.
I tried to imagine what I would want to hear as an Aoife so young facing death. She had so many plans that never game to fruition and we spent a lot of our time imagining our ideal futures and love lives and careers together and now we arrive to this point, so quickly.
Something heavy and dark came and sat on a large bubble of my hope, it’s stretched and strained across my chest and heart and gut.
And with death and loss again you have this amazing shift of perspective, like what is our purpose here, what is it we want from our lives, are we living our best lives?
I had already began to feel this shift in my priorities and uncomfortableness in my norm and ever changing and stimulating environment.
This city is an incredible place, it works as a giant volcanic surge beneath you, bringing out joy and sadness simultaneously, its has stenches and a sweet wafts ,chlorol and pan, its multi sensory contrasts and colour dances leave you reeling and awoken but often lacking roots and feeling healthy. It swirls you around in all the extremes of life, it laughs at the darkness, brushes it under the carpet and blends it into the scenario. It’s bright and blinding and in one moment can make you feel gloriously alive and in another moment can deplete you of energy and hope. It’s a roller-coaster of emotions and very distant from the calming greens, wetness and familiarity of the grey city I was born into, old and rooted, self deprecating, curious, cozy and comfortable.
Little bits of home keep falling away into the abyss and with them, little bits of me.
I am reeling, a panicked grasp to hold onto all that is familiar, but I’ve come to realise that familiarity doesn’t exist in the way it did, life rolls on,people adapt, change, develop, pop out new fresh versions of themselves with a plethora of needs. Their energy and priorities become invested in different things. The versions of your humans slowly and subtly transforming into new beautiful stronger or weaker versions of themselves with every tide, like you. Life doesn’t wait for you. Nor death.
Aoife was someone who always created epic transformations in spaces with her eyes and her heart end epic taste, she taught me about creative potential, about team power, subtle details and boldness, I am still exploring my limits of creative transformation and she helped plant those seeds. I feel like anything is possible if I want to make it.
So I’m trying to pick myself out of this sad hole, ride the waves of grief that tumble over me unexpectedly and learn from them, lay myself open to feeling joy again, sacando my rage in healthy ways, practicing resilience, honour her beauty, her strength, her wit, by living life more fully, stripping my life of the unnecessary stresses and really trying to home in on what truly makes me feel alive and connected.
I’ve been thinking more about how death is so essential to life in this balance of systems that we live in, we return to earth, to ashes, to cosmos to help fuel other living parts. It’s just sometimes we lose sight of it and we often like to pretend death won’t come, but it always does and it does its duty. And in turn creates more life, more striving for living, more appreciation of what experiences we are living and the connections that we leave behind;our living legacies, our living lessons.
I’ve been making art as therapy, what a gift to be able to channel these feelings into cut out papers:
I made Aoife as a version of the Egyptian goddess of nut :
“She was originally the goddess of the nighttimesky, but eventually became referred to as simply the sky goddess. Her headdress was the hieroglyphic of part of her name, a pot, which may also symbolize the uterus. Mostly depicted in nude human form, Nut was also sometimes depicted in the form of a cow whose great body formed the sky and heavens, a sycamore tree, or as a giant sow, suckling many piglets (representing the stars).”
Ra, the sun god, was the second to rule the world, according to the reign of the gods. Ra was a strong ruler but he feared anyone taking his throne. When he discovered that Nut was to have children, he was furious. He decreed, “Nut shall not give birth any day of the year.” At that time, the year was only 360 days. Nut spoke to Thoth, god of wisdom, and he had a plan. Thoth gambled with Khonsu, god of the moon, whose light rivaled that of Ra’s. Every time Khonsu lost, he had to give Thoth some of his moonlight. Khonsu lost so many times that Thoth had enough moonlight to make five extra days. Since these days were not part of the year, Nut could have her children. She had five children: Osiris, later ruler of the gods and then god of the dead; Horus the Elder, god of war; Set, god of chaos and the desert; Isis, goddess of magic; and Nephthys, goddess of water. When Ra found out, he was furious. He separated Nut from her husband Geb for eternity. Her father, Shu, was to keep them apart. Nevertheless, Nut did not regret her decision.
Some of the titles of Nut were:
Coverer of the Sky: Nut was said to be covered in stars touching the different points of her body.
She Who Protects: Among her jobs was to envelop and protect Ra, the sun god.
Mistress of All or “She who Bore the Gods”: Originally, Nut was said to be lying on top of Geb (Earth) and continually having intercourse. During this time she birthed four children: Osiris, Isis, Set, and Nephthys. A fifth child named Arueris is mentioned by Plutarch. He was the Egyptian counterpart to the Greek god Apollo, who was made syncretic with Horus in the Hellenistic era as ‘Horus the Elder’.The Ptolemaic temple of Edfu is dedicated to Horus the Elder and there he is called the son of Nut and Geb, brother of Osiris, and the eldest son of Geb.
She Who Holds a Thousand Souls: Because of her role in the re-birthing of Ra every morning and in her son Osiris’ resurrection, Nut became a key god in many of the myths about the afterlife.
In some ways it seems fitting, I will continue to find ways of honouring her and supporting myself, rituals and joy, snotty hysterical crying and squeezing my human connections, learning to accept these processes and trying to explore the wonder of them.
See you in the cosmos Eef, you are radiant.