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Knock, Knock

Excerpt & Painting, 7 of 7, taken from the exhibition, ‘Credo’ 2007
Acrylic on Canvas – 80 x 100cm
© Pierre Bamin 2007 – All Rights Reserved

One of my Aunt’s most memorable dispositions was the acceptance of her life’s journey and yet a continued strength of faith to carry on. Through her many pains and sufferings she would often make light of the matter suggesting that, ’Di Pa dɔn fɔgɛt mi pan Im woklod’ – ‘God has forgotten me amidst His busy workload’

Knock Knock, was painted as a reminder to me about the world I found myself in at the time. A father of two, in a fast changing technological planet where I was slightly lost on ‘my journey’, I was caught up in a tide of news, information, do’s and don’ts, pulling me in every direction. Caught in this rush, at times it felt easy to go with the flow, racing past true riches to earn what I felt was my true self worth. The proof of this success? Acknowledgement that whatever my circumstances at the time, wherever I had come from and whatever the world threw at me, I could find a pattern, a solution; I thought I was in control of the bigger picture.


The Flow

In the current of life, the stream begins gently.
It drops gradually
but
left ignored, becomes a raging river
sweeping away all that it touches;
cold and turbulent.
Junctures of light.
The breaks.
Revealed rock-holds.
Grab-a-hold, catch a breath,
contemplate.
Contemplate the idea of turning it around.
Swim calmly against the torrent.
An entrance sitting on solid foundation;
easily missed in the rush.
The door always open and where
on the dry wall entrance,
rejuvenated vines bearing
true growth.

Accept with unequivocal belief
The dignity and peace of pursuing real truths.
And remember
should you give in to the flow of river
Consider the falls at the end!


Only twelve years ago I was recording my painting process on a camcorder and ‘burning’ the results onto a disc!

Thank you to all who have taken the time to read and view my Credo exhibition from 2007. Your support over the years has been wonderful and it’s been great to share it using all forms of social media.

This final painting from the series brings it to a close.


Available for private commissions
Please contact me with your queries

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Lipstick Mama

Painting of woman sitting at dressing table removing her lipstick

Lipstick Mama

Excerpt & Painting, 6 of 7, taken from the exhibition, ‘Credo’ 2007
Acrylic on Canvas – 100 x 80cm
© Pierre Bamin 2007 – All Rights Reserved
Model: Nadia Strahan

This painting is a personal observation on the effects modern time is having on family development.

Unlike lipstick, parenthood is not removable, rather it is indelible on the soul. The nurturing of a child is spiritual dialogue between the old and the new.

In every corner of our lives today there is a degree of pain and suffering, be it on a personal level or on a global scale. At times it may feel impossible to find solutions for this wave of dis-ease that prevails in our society, seemingly destroying the fragility and beauty of family as we flow along.

Parenting is agreeing to take part in the creation of change, to affect the world around us. It puts aside one’s own desires to nurture that of the offspring’s; this does not mean materialistically, it is done purely with one’s time.

The child’s growth is based on interaction. If ignored, their survival instincts will naturally look to draw from surrounding elements. If those ingredients promote greed, selfishness, deceit, violence etc, there lies the future! Youngsters teach us as much as we do them. Let us listen and reflect with intent.

Time invested in the youth, is time bestowed in the future.

Like any object in the world, neglect results in damage and deterioration. Today, we hear about forest fires, tsunamis and other freak weather conditions . Viewed as a metaphor, Mother Earth has given us her time, yet we do not return ours, and seemingly, these equivalents are showing signs in our homes. We must try to allocate attention to family-life, the aim to contribute positively to the creation of a brighter future.

Serving each other

Human beings are complex and an interdependent species. Our diverse strengths work to serve each other. Decisions we make, whether personally or professionally, sometimes come with a degree of doubt where we seek nods from those in the know; it is no different with our children. The Future looks to us for a defining light; it is from us that this direction must be lit.

“Children see themselves primarily through their parents’ eyes. They look to us to tell them not necessarily what they are but what they are capable of becoming. They depend upon us for a larger vision of themselves and for the tools to implement that vision.”

One must encourage the voice of youth and treat carefully the future staring back at us.


About Nadia Strahan

Nadia with band, The Kites

Nadia Strahan is a beautiful mother of two. A warm, compassionate human being and a performing arts specialist, she is a professional voice coach, offering private tuition from her home studio in Brighton.

You will often find her wowing audiences, both as a solo artist or as one third founding member of Gaslight Productions Ltd; an Immersive Theatre Company based in Brighton and various venues around the South East of England.

Nadia sings with an unmistakeable style, offering an eclectic mix of soulful delivery, funky jazz tones with a passion for music.


Available for private commissions
Please contact me with your queries

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The Fisherman’s Ring

Excerpt & Painting, 5 of 7, taken from the exhibition, ‘Credo’ 2007
Acrylic on Canvas – 80 x 100cm
© Pierre Bamin 2007. All Rights Reserved

My Aunt, like many, was taken through life in a direction not of her choosing nor will. However she remained stoic, with an acceptance to carry on throughout the process.
We would often discuss ‘destiny’.  Never coming up with answers, only more questions and a few maybes…
Are we it’s true master? Why bother if it’s already been mapped out?
Every person, every experience and every direction in our lives may serve our free will, but by design, our very purpose, our choices, not only serve oneself but contribute to society where we are swayed communally in various directions giving to one another. Changes we may not feel are right at the time are in place to serve a purpose, whether it seems, we like it or not ….maybe?!  I am sure that given a clear choice, most would definitely opt for clearer horizons.

THE SEAL

This painting is a humble reflection of that journey.
Religious or not, one couldn’t help but be moved by Pope John Paul’s sheer determination through ill health to forge ahead with his mission.  The Fisherman’s Ring was influenced by his death in 2005.  Like millions of others, I watched with intrigue the ceremony that followed.  As is customary with Papal deaths, the piscatory ring, his papal seal and symbol of his union with God, was destroyed by the cardinals to make way for a new successor …it was from this that my fifth painting was born.

Simon Peter, the first ever pope, had his destiny, trials and eventual death revealed to him by Christ; a reminder that in life there is a time we lead ourselves and a time when we are led, sometimes to destinations not of our own choosing.  Few wish death, yet there is a time for us all; until then there is the journey we make, together!

In the painting, one hand shows its face, revealing the scars, the nicks, the graft… its confession; pointing lamely at where it would rather be.  Though the binds show signs of wear, they hold fast; a snap imminent …perhaps? The other hand, strong and defiant accepts its fate, grappling with all its fervour, leading into the unknown…

Categories
Blog Paintings

The Spark

Excerpt & Painting, 4 of 7, taken from the exhibition, ‘Credo’ 2007
Acrylic on Canvas – 100 x 80cm
© Pierre Bamin 2007. All Rights Reserved

One of the most important lessons I learnt from my Aunt came about through simple observation.

When talking with her, she would listen intently and speak in a very measured manner… and when she did, it was most often punctuated with a great parable that would often stay with you, to be pondered upon. This painting is a reflection of one such meeting, where she spoke about how futile hard work and inner growth can be if the tongue is not put in check.

“Yai ɛn yes sabi sikrit, bɔ da lili tin na yu mot, da yu tɔŋ, hol am fayn…”
“Eyes and ears can keep a secret, but that tiny thing in your mouth, your tongue, hold it well…”


Available for private commissions
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The Apple Tree

Excerpt & Painting, 3 of 7, taken from the exhibition, ‘Credo’ 2007
Acrylic on Canvas – 100 x 80cm
© Pierre Bamin 2007. All Rights Reserved

In 1990 Sierra Leone’s devastating civil war began to take shape and the consequences that followed were documented all over the world.

My great-aunt was one of the lucky evacuees. It was her second time on an aeroplane and her first trip to the UK. She was 86 at the time. For the period of a year, before returning to Freetown, her stay will always remain in my memory.

The inspiration for this painting was borne out of our walks together. My aunt, like many from the very rural parts of Africa remained pure and unpoisoned in life’s outlook …she was incredibly grounded and practical.

It was a warm day (much to her approval) as we strolled along a street aligned with apple-blossom trees; a few steps into our walk she paused next to one and pointing upwards asked me about their fruits…

“No fruits Aunty, they are only here to beautify the area”, I replied. Holding my hand she leant out and looking further down the road asked about the others; my response was the same, only this time with a knowing smile, convinced I hadn’t sold it to her.

She stepped in close and began to explain the importance of planting trees that bear something… ‘harvest what is natural and free’
“…luk bah, tumara we dɛn kɔl, yu go rɔn go bay na shap lɛkɛ kresman …tin we yu kin jɛs pik yaso fɔ natin”
“…tomorrow when they are ready, you’ll travel quickly to the shops buying apples like a crazy person …something you could’ve picked here for free”.

Although we laughed, mutually aware of the gentle clash of cultures, her statement stuck! What she described goes much further than seeds, pips and council logistics. It was a revelation to me on the state of our lives today; ‘Freedom’ certainly comes with a price tag! Do simple acts of giving freely still exist or are we all held to account by some economical undercurrent? We grow only in our yards, in our-selves, what is naturally free; but are we willing to share the results of our efforts at no cost? Like the trees on our walk, we see only a partial side; the prize stock kept secretly only for self. With no fruits to distract us we walk, are we perhaps failing to enjoy nature’s dynamics? If juicy edibles were hanging off a branch or two, one would not only stop to pick, but maybe spend time to contemplate the savouring season …maybe.

I was once witness to some children in Sierra Leone racing toward a tree their target a huge ripened mango hanging there quite limply. Whilst avoiding a hail of incoming stones, the bigger lad in his eagerness to reach it, had climbed quite near, but somehow overstretched knocking it to the ground. The smaller children dashed off with the prize each trying to snatch a bite. A mixture of fear (purely driven by their older adversary who was now in hot pursuit) coupled with the irresistible taste and shine of this large fruit added to the game that ensued. There was laughter, dodging, stumbling and mango skin everywhere; so much energy and laughter was felt in that moment, even for those watching.

I appreciate that we live in a very different world and to think of this utopia where we can simply walk along picking free fruits is purely a daydream; logistics dear boy – the mess, rotting fruits everywhere – order must be in place to keep our lives sustainable and free… right?

I prefer the leaf from Mother Nature’s book.

Aunty Wadia passed away 31 May 2008; She was 104.


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The Potter

Excerpt & Painting, 2 of 7, taken from the exhibition, ‘Credo’ 2007
Acrylic on Canvas – 100 x 80cm
© Pierre Bamin 2007. All Rights Reserved

The Potter’s creations exist to serve a purpose; each are very different, but function together to serve our humanity and destiny.

Humanity, as I see it, happens only because of service to one another. Just as The Potter creates for particular purposes, so we are all designed to serve with a degree of wisdom, knowledge and conscience. Do we keep it to ourselves or do we pour out to receive more in return? The outcome of ‘only taking’ is all but predictable; whereas the idea of ‘giving to gain’ seems far favourable in fulfilling ones journey through life. Our vocations, whatever they may be, are channelled through these mediums and continuously replenished during this exchange of self. Our containers hold, only to pass on, gifts which one day will be returned when it is most needed; this ‘pouring out’ may fall to your children, friends or community; much like the butterfly effect.

We are who we are because of others and not ‘because we made it so’! Gluttony is not reserved only for food but that of power. Only The Potter knows how much each vessel can carry and for what purpose. We may not know the plan but by continually exchanging our gifts we are able to purge those powers of their greed, collectively.

The same clay fashions new pots …we are all equal. We each will face trials but throughout this, will continue to pour, nourishing one another’s spiritual strength. When we lose a loved one there is a sudden flow of love from all around; There stands The Potter, with you and I.

I dedicate this painting to the unique properties of the human spirit.


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Portrait of Aunty Wadia

A Portrait of Aunty Wadia

Part Narrative & Painting No. 1 of 7, taken from the exhibition, ‘Credo’ 2007
© Pierre Bamin 2007. All Rights Reserved

‘A Portrait of Aunty Wadia’ is a small homage to a wonderful woman and a reminder to me about the intricate workings of faith.  Her story is like so many in the world but one I would like to share from a personal perspective.

Wadia Aboud was born in 1904 and arrived in Sierra Leone from Thelel in Lebanon in 1924. She lived with her husband and her two daughters, Adel and Emily, in the village of Lunsar, in the Marampa Chiefdom of the Port Loko district.  They built their home next to the Rokel River where she and her husband worked together suppling provisions, material and tobacco to the capital city of Freetown. These goods were delivered mainly by canoe, and it was on one of these consignments in 1929 that her husband fell overboard and drowned;  he was twenty-eight years old.  Aunty Wadia was left devastated but continued to raise her family without the thought of remarrying, knowing life as a single mother would be, at best, extremely hard. Over the years she continued to work whilst mastering not only the local Temne language but other dialects spoken throughout the provinces.  To many Missionaries, Aid-Workers and the Peace Corps she was always a welcomed presence, proving invaluable for shelter, sustenance and dialogue.

In 1940, Adel, her youngest daughter, died of measles;  she was sixteen at the time.  Needless to say my aunt was heartbroken and four years later she and Emily moved to Kissy Street, a suburb in the capital city of Freetown, so to be near her brother and sister-in-law. Nine years later, Emily married and in due course fell pregnant with her first child.  During labour Emily was given too much chloroform (the norm for pain relief in those days) and subsequently died giving birth … the baby, Aunty Wadia’s only grandchild died shortly after from the effects….a 10lb baby boy. Overwhelmed with agonising grief she punched her face repeatedly, until black and blue. She had been witness to each child’s passing.

Fast-forward to 1984, and shortly after the death of her brother, Aunty Wadia moved to Sawpit where she worked with my grandmother selling provisions, tobacco and other items. She carried on working until her retirement at the age of ninety four.

Looking a little closer, in particular the back of her hands and wrists, there are tattoos of religious symbols.  One shows a church, further up the back of the palm, ‘worry beads’ and other images now blended together of things she “can’t remember but were done in the village”. Conversations I had with her were always a joy, yet never straightforward.  Answers to my questions would always take shape in the form of a parable; leaving me something to figure out as I went on my way….a little like a painting, left in part to the viewers interpretation. One thing however did remain constant; her gentle reminder to always ‘listen’, to learn, and never to forget the pain of life’s journey, etched deep under her skin.

On one visit she greeted me in a state of panic, informing me that her eyesight had finally failed her; she could no longer see.  To prove the point, I was taken to her balcony where, on looking out, she claimed to no longer be able to see Lungi, a provincial town some distance across the water.  Once I had explained the reason for this being ‘fog’, we toasted with a shot of brandy, putting the world to rights once more.

Conversations would often inform me of news on the street, stuff she would hear first, without even leaving her room!  Her stories, whether in Krio, Temene or Arabic would  flow, always with humour but for the most part ending with the pain of her losses all those years ago. Wherever she was, whatever time of the day….whether quietly sitting on her chair, chatting to locals or resting in bed, there was always a rosary at hand, passing gently through her fingers, slightly worn and mis-shapen, reflecting her very essence.

Aunty Wadia’s final years saw her bed bound, the resulting cause of a fall, yet she was steadfast and funny.   Despite all this pain and anguish, she remained truly resolute in her faith until her passing on 31 May 2008.

I dedicate this painting in celebration of the human spirit!