This tulip, FREEDOM THE NEW BEGINNING, is all about joy and imparting an important message – a plan of action to those who need a way out of domestic violence situations.
About a month prior to the opening of The Canadian Tulip Festival 2012, I received a phone call, it was on a Tuesday. It was from a man who had been involved directly with The Canadian Tulip Festival for years and had seen many of my 6 painted tulips. He was now involved with the newly formed Elgin Street BIA. He proceeded to say that the BIA wanted a special tulip created to place in Minto Park. Minto Park occupies a full city block along Elgin Street and is known for a special memorial site. A memorial to honour and to grieve all women abused and murdered as a result of domestic violence. The statistics show that only 1 in 3 women are fortunate to NOT know abuse firsthand. Although I was aware of the Memorial and the very sensitive and emotional significance behind it, I was fortunately the 1 in 3 women to have not experienced abuse and so I did not have a personal connection to the cause. Regardless, I recognized this request as the very worthy cause it is. From one day to the next, from instant to the next, things can change. Tuesday I had no connection to the cause, within 24 hours later I was horrified to discover a connection to a horrific act of violence committed earlier in the morning. It was a distant bizarre connection but a connection that shook me to my very soul. My husband had told me a few months earlier of the arrival of his new boss. For the few months that the man worked at this place of business, I often heard my husband talk about the boss, a fun loving family man, a proud father of 2, a hockey coach. Then over time the conversation regarding his boss changed as this man from good natured and fun loving to a troubled individual. The place of business has a counseling program with a variety of professional services in place and all this was activated. I understand the man admitted himself into hospital on 2 occasions for extended treatment periods. To no avail. Two lives were taken and 2 sons left without parents.
For one week, I sobbed as this mother hung to life. I was too emotional to pick up the brush and begin the project ahead of me. On the day she passed I picked up the paint brush, reached deep inside myself to a safe space and began. Instead of focusing on the horror and tragedy of the unspeakable acts, for my own emotional wellbeing, I had to focus on a plan of action for women and families in need. All my tulips have an inspirational message incorporated into the design. A message of inspiration, hope and faith. A beautiful design flowed from my brush, to this day I look back in wonder, so grateful for the divine guidance. Now that I had the images complete on the tulip, I tried repeatedly to articulate a written message. I simply could not do it, nothing I could conceive of conveyed what my paint brush had created. I didn’t have the personal knowledge of abuse, a dark place where someone has been but has been able to find her way out and give hope to others in need.
I will always remember the next step in this remarkable process with awe and gratitude. As I sat down to my computer, a Facebook message from a new FB friend popped up. I had never met Angela Sutcliffe in person but our paths had connected on FB through mutual friends. I contacted Angela immediately, told her of my special project and asked if I could incorporate her message word for word on the “Freedom New Beginning” Tulip. With her blessing this is her message.
“CELEBRATE THE MOMENT WHEN THE FEAR OF STAYING, REPLACES THE DESIRE TO LEAVE. LEAVING ABUSE IS THE CELEBRATION OF YOUR TRUE SELF.”
On Mother’s Day 2012 I gave the following speech at the unveiling of the tulip on the site of the Minto Park Memorial:
“This tulip titled “Freedom – The New Beginning” is my 7th. tulip painted for the Canadian Tulip Festival. It was an honor to be asked to create such a special tulip to stand in this sacred spot in Minto Park. On the day I was asked to paint the tulip, I knew immediately it was a cause of utmost importance. Even though, on that day I had no personal connection to the cause. However from one day to the next, from one second to the next, all can change. As one day later, I was dismayed to discover an unlikely and unimaginable connection to the most recent tragedy. I was shaken to the very depths of my soul. For my own emotional sanity and inner well being, I was required to focus on the message of empowerment to women. I would like to thank Wallack’s for sponsoring this tulip and providing the supplies necessary for it’s completion.
This tulip personifies courage, faith, security, protection, trust and renewal. The power of love and bond in a united women’s community, above all hope. The message the tulip is intended to convey is – You are not alone. We are here. Reach out and end the cycle.
The doves represent innocence with a gentle touch, a symbol of motherhood and peace, and hope. The dragonflies and butterflies represent the transformation that a woman undergoes to break free. The water symbols – with their cleansing properties, the rainbows and hearts, the sun’s rays and tree of life, all represent renewal. The pink tulips symbolize care and new beginnings, the pink irises the glory of truth and trust. The pink lotus flower, with its exceptional energy, is the supreme symbol of rebirth. The phoenix is an immortal, gentle yet powerful creature. It is a mythical bird of profound vision, honesty and justice. Its colourful plumage, according to legend, personifies new birth.
Because domestic violence is a universal problem, the three sets of hands (done in gold and silver metal leafing), represent the cultural diversity of this issue. The ‘White Ribbon Campaign’ logo, appearing on the base of the tulip, is intended as a message for men, a plea to work together to end the abuse.
With the vitality of these many inspirations, I invite the inner being of those in need to rise out of confusion, to the clarity of enlightenment, a great journey from the darkness of conflict to the light of understanding and balance.My suggested plan of action includes the contact information for the Ottawa Police Partner Assault Section and Octevaw, the governing organization composed of a vast network of resources for those in need.
In closing, all of my tulips include written script as well as visual images to portray my message. For days upon days, I was focused on the visual images leaving the written message until the very end. I really had no idea how to form the images into the precise phrase. But as all can change in an instant, I discovered the perfect message in a very unlikely place. A facebook friend, a woman who I did not know personally posted a message of the utmost importance to her. Her message came the exact second I required it and it touched my very soul. I knew this was the wording to accompany the images that flowed from my brush. With her blessing, this is her message.
“Celebrate the moment when the fear of staying, replaces the desire to leave. Leaving abuse is the celebration of your true self.”