Skills, Smells and Spells: The private view

Private View of Skills, Smells & Spells at The Strand Gallery 2012. Image by Jim ShannonIn the eye of the hurricane I floated, a couple of centimetres off the ground. Balanced, as if hovering between two magnets, their opposite poles holding me there in a perpetual motion. Two extremes battled and pushed within me, keeping me up, off the ground.

On the one hand I was uncomfortable, being at the centre of attention. All that mingling and socialising and talking about me, my work. I wanted to, expected to hate it. Years of conditioning told me I should. Small talk, listening, feigning interest – yes, I was bound to hate it.

And yet I was glowing. Within me was absolute serenity. As I’d hoped there would be – knew there would be.

The other side of me had emerged. In perfect balance I was kept aloft, floating, oblivious to what lay below. My other side told me I’d love it, relish the opportunity to show off my work. I was proud of all I had achieved and yes, I knew I deserved to be at the centre of attention. My work deserved it, and I would do it justice. I talked, I listened, I was interested, I loved it.

I was dancing, mind alive, gliding through the evening. Laughing, talking, discussing, evangelising. Anecdotes flowing, meeting old friends, new friends, strangers, peers, all coming together perfectly.

My hard work was done. Months before, invitations had gone out, photographs had been printed and framed, writing done, so much achieved. Now I could relax.

Everything was perfect.

Around me others worked hard, pouring wine, serving food, introducing me to people. I was aware of it, I appreciated it, I cherished it, I was grateful and I loved them for it, for being there and supporting me. I was warm inside. But I was also one step removed, off the ground, aware of everything, and yet completely oblivious.

I was being held aloft by little understood chemical reactions within me, a turmoil of emotions that somehow produced an absolute gravity defying calmness.

Images of Skills, Smells and Spells at The Strand Gallery. PV images by Jim Shannon

Skills, Smells and Spells  by Toby Deveson at The Strand Gallery in London, May and June 2012

Skills, Smells and Spells  by Toby Deveson at The Strand Gallery in London, May and June 2012

Skills, Smells and Spells  by Toby Deveson at The Strand Gallery in London, May and June 2012

Skills, Smells and Spells  by Toby Deveson at The Strand Gallery in London, May and June 2012

Skills, Smells and Spells  by Toby Deveson at The Strand Gallery in London, May and June 2012

Skills, Smells and Spells  by Toby Deveson at The Strand Gallery in London, May and June 2012. Photograph by Jim Shannon.

Skills, Smells and Spells  by Toby Deveson at The Strand Gallery in London, May and June 2012. Photograph by Jim Shannon.

Skills, Smells and Spells  by Toby Deveson at The Strand Gallery in London, May and June 2012. Photograph by Jim Shannon.

Skills, Smells and Spells  by Toby Deveson at The Strand Gallery in London, May and June 2012. Photograph by Jim Shannon.

Skills, Smells and Spells  by Toby Deveson at The Strand Gallery in London, May and June 2012. Photograph by Jim Shannon.

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