I came across the above photo via @womensart1 tweet. For me it just seems to epitomise my idea of acceptance. The “Sleeping Mud Maid” sculpture by Sue and Pete Hill is located in The Lost Gardens of Heligan. I’m guessing a therapist or any pop psychologists out there might have a field day with that declaration. I’m sure there are a few layers to be unravelled (beyond the obvious reasons) that I see a sculpture of a sleeping woman as a symbol of acceptance for a condition that leaves you bedbound. I’m guessing for some seeing the beauty in the sculpture might in fact represent complete denial.
I mean let’s just put aside for a minute that she is literally green and I normally go green with envy at those that can actually achieve a peaceful slumber when required or desired and flare with exasperation at those that think needing a little rest is the same as – hit the wall – have to be parallel to the ground for the next three days, at least.
But for some reason, there is something about the fact that the sculpture depicts someone figuratively and literally grounded, though somehow not stuck and effortlessly balanced and at one with her surrounds yet also unique and distinct. She is also a little wild and strong enough to be open and exposed.
Yep, its lot to read into a garden sculpture but that’s the whole point of art… Right? Plus it all relates back to the complexity of acceptance for those with ME/CFS. People treat it like a concept or goal to be achieved yet it’s an emotion that therefore cannot be a permanent state. We all contain multitudes, a little anger and resentment sometimes or other times a lot, sadness and despair in small and overwhelming doses. Strength and weakness, both usually when you least expect it. As well as some perspective, some gratitude, grit, grace and hope.
For right now, it doesn’t have to be more complicated than I see the mud maid’s peaceful repose in the English country side as capturing a moment of true serenity, a moment where acceptance is possible along with healthy unacceptance where necessary.
Image credit: www.heligan.com
Just as a side note, in case you were wondering, other reactions to the sculpture by visitors to the gardens range from – “That’s cool.” to “That’s oddly terrifying.”