PART 14: THE COLOURS OF HOPE
This is my colour of hope. I painted it on a Monday, during a difficult few weeks. I was tired, out of art supplies and discouraged, but I had to paint. I had to find from within myself the strength to believe that things would get better. The composition came together as I emptied pots of paint and squeezed out the last remnants of colour. It is beautiful. Though we fall, we will yet arise, hope keeps believing. This painting, ‘Hope’ is a visual expression of what can be found within our own hearts when we trust God is who He says He is.
Three years before mum & I headed back to New Zealand, we were running a business / ministry called Colours of Hope. I was creating richly saturated paintings of beautiful colours and mum was making art cushions to match. We were running workshops, selling things and giving things away. It was all about encouraging people, it was a revolution to inspire hope through colour & beauty, in the face of global despair.
It began when my cousin Evana went through the horrific ordeal of breast cancer. She had a double mastectomy and all the treatment that aligns with this procedure. Mum decided to head over to Perth, Western Australia, to help Evana’s husband and four children cope with the illness. Mum loved them, served them and looked after the household while Evana had her treatments. When it was time for her to come home, Evana wanted something to remember the experience she had spent with Aunty Helen and so she decided to buy one of my paintings called ‘Grace’.
Art is spiritual, it carries the intention for which it has been created. My art is intentional, I definitely have an agenda, I want to give people an encounter with the presence of God. I want to release peace, joy, love, into people’s lives through art. There is a world full of heartbreak. I want my art to inspire hope through colour, beauty and the Spirit from which I create.
The painting ‘Grace’ was inspired by Psalm 23 and it is an expression of the rest, provision and peace of God.
'You have bedded me down in lush meadows, you find me quiet pools to drink from. True to your word, you let me catch my breath and send me in the right direction. Even when the way goes through Death Valley, I'm not afraid when you walk at my side, Your beauty and love chase after me every day of my life’ (Message Bible).
This is the revelation of God’s nature that Evana needed to experience at that moment and it made me think; What if I could take the painting off the canvas and literally wrap her in the art? All the colour, beauty and purpose could physically surround her. It is this pursuit that birthed the Colours of Hope Collection.
We literally took my richly coloured paintings off the canvas and printed them onto fabric, which was then made into beautiful art cushions. It was art as a cushion and the material was soft, luxurious and of the highest quality. Each cushion had been handmade, a beautiful original artwork and often a one off creation. They were created to inspire - with such intention (and titles), as Hope, Grace, Freedom and Furious Love.
Why Cushions? I had someone ask me why were we making cushions and what did that have to do with hope? Cushions are soft and comfortable, they can be squeezed, laid on, cuddled and they look beautiful. We hold them to our chest in an embrace, or we lay on them, releasing the Spirit filled intention to our head or our heart. Colour is healing. Surrounding ourselves with beautiful things makes us feel better, makes us happy and this makes us hopeful. What you surround yourself with will create an atmosphere in your home and lives, so choose to surround yourself with hope. The art cushions were unique, handmade and beautiful, but my original vision was for material that would make the perfect scarf.
Then, we finally found it, the perfect scarf material! It was so very soft, it printed sharp and clean and bled through to the back side. Finally we had the very thing that started the whole pursuit. We could literally wrap people in my art.
I had it in my hands, my first 'Hope' scarf, printed with perfection, beautiful, soft, truly glorious. Mum had cut the fabric in two pieces, hemmed the edges and added the 'care instructions', I thought this was going to be the item that out sold all of the cushions, purses and bags; but then I received the messages.
Two of them, the very next morning. One from a friend whose sister was going into surgery with a brain tumour and one from another friend, whose friend they knew, was given only weeks to live - dirty cancer. How could I not respond when the need was so great, the pain so deep and life so valuable. This is not right, all this suffering and pain. So I decided to send the two scarfs on assignment. Freely sent, with love, prayer and hope. It was not a big thing, but it was something. It was what I had in my hands.
In Acts 19:12, the scripture says that fabric touched Paul and the anointing of God was transferred onto the scarves and hankies, and as the disciples sent out the fabric it healed the sick. I believe in this miracle working God, I know that all things are possible (Matt 19:26).
Those two messages changed everything, we just kept making scarfs and sending them. Two, then six, twelve and by the end of the first month, we had sent out thirty scarfs full of hope - free. The requests just found their way in and my friends started to sponsor the vision, so we kept buying the fabric and we continued to send scarfs on assignment. Filled with hope and prayers for healing, we sent out scarfs to people in need. We did not sell them, not one, we sent them on assignment, because sometimes there are things worth more than money.
Some people sponsored the vision and the project continued mostly by word of mouth. We got requests from people wanting to send a scarf to their sick and often dying friends and family members. When we received a request, we sent a scarf, anywhere, everywhere, all over the world. Beautiful, soft, saturated in colour and hope and it arrived in the post to be a blessing and a comfort. It made people feel loved and valued. It was inspiring hope.
For nearly three years we sent scarfs on assignment, hundreds of them, all over the world. We heard amazing testimonies of what a simple act of kindness could do. But then my world fell apart again, not long after I got to Palmy, my second marriage disintegrated and I was devastated. After 23 years, Andrew chose another lifestyle. I shut down the Colours of Hope, I could no longer believe that anything was possible and it was time to get a real job.