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  • Writer's picturePhil Fry

A journey through art and space: Death of a dream

I’ve mostly stopped drinking alcohol. I can control it now, but tonight I needed something to help re-open the door and my hangover tomorrow morning will help close it.


I find often the right person intersects a life not when you want them, but when you most need them. For me it has been a transient good friend, the doctor who listened to me, and a priest who knocked at my door to ask if he could pray for me when I was half way into an overdose.


Most recently, it was a work colleague who in our first introductory meeting we spoke about creativity and how it defines us. The words she briefly spoke to me rearranged the puzzle of my life to accepting the missing pieces have gone for good.


Michelle told me about the death of a dream and how she had come to terms with her own. One door closes, another opens.


I’ve never known any other dream than the one I had at the very start: to be a painter. Yet, as years mature so had the dream: germinating from the purity of my early years and unfurling into a teenage atmosphere of disappointment, drugs, drink and anxiety – which I’m sorry to say soured any fruit which I had long hoped would come of it and never really recovered.


My passion for creativity though had never been dented. It’s safe to say my mind and whatever force which pushes the dream forwards is well manured.


Towards the end I can only explain myself as scrabbling up a large rock, trying to find purchase – trying lots of different things but never really finding that safe hold to pull myself up: Eventually my practice splintered into so many interests competing for attention, the gears of the entire creative operation seizing irrevocably.


In the summer of 2022, I took the work which I thought were failures and burnt them. It was an act of pre-meditated self-destruction.





I burnt my work in the hope something would grow from the ashes. I keep the ashes in a jar in my desk not as a reminder of death but of re-birth.





After accepting I wasn’t going to solely be a painter – an idea which has persisted for 33 years of my 36-year life, after really letting it die and accepting, I could be something new: I began ascending the waves of strengths I had in addition to painting. Strengths which had always played a supporting role. Painting is just one part of a new puzzle, along with the others which I have freshly brought into the fold.


So what am I now if I am not a painter, or an artist? Well, my manager describes me not as my job title or an artist – but as an inventor. I think out of all the titles I could choose – and leaving familial ones aside - inventor is the one I am most happy to be known as.


It took me a long time of applying myself to killing the original dream. Burning my work was drastic, but upon reflection it certainly helped and I found something new in the fire – I encourage you to find something that works for you because burning has no undo button. Ultimately, Michelle was right, walking through the door has been a liberating experience. And I’m glad someone shared their experience so openly with me to give me the confidence to see the end of something, isn’t the end of everything.

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