This piece is dedicated to Michele Angelo Petrone (1963-2007), Michele was an artist who loved to party and connect with people. After he developed Hodgkin’s Lymphoma he explored his experiences of ill health through his art and set up a foundation to coach doctors, nurses, patients and their families in how to deal with their experiences and those of their cancer patients.

My friend bade farewell at the Yellow Crane House,

And went down eastward to Willow Valley

Amid the flowers and mists of March.

The lonely sail in the distance

Vanished at last beyond the blue sky

And I could see only the river

Flowing along the border of heaven.

Li Bai (701 – 762)

It conjures up the feeling I had as Michele’s life gradually slipped from him.

At his funeral we threw sunflowers onto his coffin and toasted him with champagne. I kept the foil and wire from the tops of the bottles and made the sunflowers from them. I modeled the figure on the figures in Michele’s paintings and gave him wings, as he floats through the archway to heaven, it sometimes seemed as though he had them in life. I placed a fork above the doorway, as he couldn’t possibly be without one – as he loved to feast and always seized every opportunity to create the most delicious meals for all his friends.

I’m sure he watches us celebrate his full and inspiring life and this picture is for anyone who knows the pain of loss.