'Venice Portals, 2009'
There are so many portals in this image; doors, windows, flowers, a boat, the canals… They all fit into my definition of portals for the purposes of this project. They are a means of transportation or transition of some sort. These are just the portals that exist in the physical realm, the ones that are obvious to a viewer. But there are also the non-physical portals that exist ‘behind the scene’ so to speak.
Taken in 2009, the picture used as a reference for this painting was captured while my husband Rob, our daughter Sara, and I visited family on a trip to Italy and Ireland. My daughter had just graduated from high school, so she was leaving behind the years of ‘formal’ education and transitioning into the type of education provided by the big, wide world.
While my husband had been to Italy previously, the experiences were all new to Sara and me. Our eyes were wide open for most of the journey, as we absorbed the incredible culture, sights, sounds, smells and experiences of the places visited and met family members for the first time.
When I look at this picture, I am immediately transported back to the warmth of the welcome we received from relatives in Italy, the indescribably fantastic flavours of the meals we shared, and the emotions that are felt when one comes to understand the depth of connection and sense of belonging to a land and people that transcends time and distance. It was also a bittersweet experience in that our son, Ben, was unable to take this journey with us. He had just started working at a job, and had not yet accrued vacation time. Up until this trip, all of our vacations had been spent together as a family, so here again is another kind of portal that comes to my mind – when families grow up and the children get busy pursuing their own lives. It was a realization for me, at the time, that my role as a parent was transitioning out of one realm into another, as yet unknown, realm.
Fast forward to December, 2017. We went through another portal when we changed how we share Christmas and birthday presents as a family. Rather than continuing to give individual gifts, we opened a shared bank account, into which we will take turns depositing a set amount of money at the usual milestones. It will be our family travel fund. Although both children have embarked on their careers, meaning we might not be able to use it for a couple of years’ time, it is still exciting to think of the adventures in travel that await us and the many portals we have yet to encounter!