Dreamscapes, Personal

The City That Shaped My Love for the Sea

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I should be excited for the full launch of my ‘Dreamscapes’ collection today… but I’m not. 

Instead I’m sitting here with a knot in my stomach worrying about Super Typhoon Mangkhut halfway around the world, barreling toward the Philippines and then onward to Hong Kong.

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You see, I spent my formative years in Hong Kong, ages 8 to 17. That’s a long time. A city made up of islands and reclaimed land (manmade land built right into the sea - yes, the city ran out of space), Hong Kong is a mix of old and new, high-rises situated in an otherwise extremely tropical climate with hills and torrential rainfall. 

I grew up facing the sea. My favourite time of day was between 6:25am to 6:45am when the city was still (moderately) quiet, boats drifting lazily by, the sky a warm hazy glow of gold, orange, pink, and purple.  The last stars blinking away. This to me was the most peaceful time of day, the most beautiful time of day.

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But growing up near the equator and by the sea also taught me to respect the sea. Typhoons, the Asian equivalent of of cyclones and hurricanes were a normal part of life. I have been in the eye of the storm before and believe me, it is weird. One moment you couldn’t see the building across from yours (since the rain is coming down thick, fast and furious), and the next you can… but not the buildings across the harbour. Everything is still, calm, quiet… for a moment. Then crash! Off you go again. 

My family, like all other families, taped ‘X’s across every window (to prevent shards of glass from flying) and drew the curtains. I remember watching the water swish in the toilet - because of the building swaying. This, I’m told is a good thing. Buildings are engineered to sway a bit. I’m not sure why, but it works. 

So today I’m sitting here, trying to keep the ball of anxiety down through prayer, knitting, stress eating, and writing, truly worried about a typhoon for the first time. Why? Because it is the strongest typhoon Hong Kong has ever faced. Already, it’s on its way toward the Philippines at with winds 255kph, bringing the possibility of a 6 meter high water wall. It is a full on, top end of Category 5 hurricane.

I am hoping, praying and thinking of my family, childhood friends, teachers, acquaintances, people in Asia, even as thoughts go out to my American friends facing Hurricane Florence this week. 

Growing up in with heavy rainstorm warnings and typhoon warnings gave me a deep concern for climate change. Climate change is real, no matter how how much I want it to go away and not be real. 

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My paintings are about living in the moment, capturing memories, deep, shared moments of love. But they are also intricately linked with nature, feeling alive in nature, having ones soul refreshed while soaking in all that nature has to offer. But it is also always with the thought that natural forces are powerful. 

See the story behind the ‘Dreamscapes’ collection here