Cressida Bonas

My frightening flights of fancy

My frightening flights of fancy
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I worry too much; I struggle with the unknown and I don’t like it when life doesn’t turn out as planned. This time last year Harry and I had hoped to say our vows under blue skies, witnessed by our friends and family. Instead we got married in a pandemic and a rainstorm. My sister Pandora says; ‘It’s dangerous to have high expectations - you will almost always be disappointed.’ On this occasion, however, this disappointment turned out to be the best thing that could have happened. We refused to let covid or the weather dampen our day, resulting in no hangovers of failed expectations.

My chief worry is about my parents and my imagination runs wild. Now that I can hug them again, I cannot stop. My dad pats me on the back when he feels my embrace is going on for too long. He wants to get back to mowing the lawn. Perhaps I am making up for lost time when I didn’t see them, scared of passing on the virus. They are in their seventies and my fear of losing them has got worse. We recently went on a family trip to Dorset. Thankful to be all together again, there were no dramas except for the tick we found buried in my Mum’s leg. The culprit had gone unnoticed for three days and was only identified when Mum’s leg began to swell. I started to have visions of her in bed fighting lymes disease. I took her to the nearest hospital, feeling embarrassed that it may have been a bit dramatic, especially amid a pandemic. Surprisingly the doctor said he sees six victims a day with infected bites. Lymes disease has become a serious problem. Fortunately, the parasite came out and I could breathe again.

I had different flights of fancy during my visit to The Gagosian Gallery. There, thirteen paintings are presented from the Helen Frankenthaler Foundation, several of which have never been exhibited before, in a special exhibition titled Imagining Landscapes: Paintings by Helen Frankenthaler, 1952–1976. It was a rare privilege to see these American paintings in London by one of the most influential abstract expressionists. Works like these are rightfully enjoying a renaissance at the moment, thanks to the greater attention placed on the female artists of that time. The paintings are striking by their large size and seem very much at home in this beautiful space. The wide seas, skies and bold colours feel symbolic of abandonment. Landscape and human form become one of the same, suggesting that nature and humanity are never separate. Entranced, I envision places I have been to and places I long to go, as well as seeing cheeky grins within painted waves. Frankenthaler’s work provokes feelings that are hard to put into words, sitting more comfortably in my imagination. She once said, 'I wanted things that I couldn’t quite articulate.' Perhaps such articulation was not needed - her inner world is very much communicated in this exquisite work.

Another tribute to hope and the imagination is The Comfort Book by Matt Haig. As the world continues to endure waves of uncertainty, this book calms those stormy thoughts. Like many of Haig’s musings, this one has the power to shift perspectives. One section, Note on the Future, dwells on the inexorability of suffering. We must learn to live with the things we cannot control; our sanity depends on it.