An Evening with Geraldine
On June 9th, the Abbey Theatre in St Albans was the venue for an extraordinary exhibition of work put together by Geraldine Tumulty, a Bedford artist who not only claims the walls and corridors for her gallery, but table tops and stage as well, providing an irregular introduction to what happens next.
She puts together an exciting event she calls “An Evening With Geraldine” which can only be described as fascinating, hilarious, tragic and informative. What’s really absorbing about this artist is her lack of self-interest , putting her effort not into impressing, but into explaining her thoughts and her story of the influences behind each piece of artwork. She manages to do this without pretention, without exaggeration, without complication and with a humble interest in explaining to her audience what makes her tick. She tells what each piece of work means to her so that you grow to understand that a ‘chicken’ is not just an oil on canvass of a colourful bird in dark surroundings, but a tribute to the moment of frustration and despair of an 11 year old girl, angry, savage and disbelieving. Her explanations bring each piece of work to life and you get to know the work through the artist’s perspective on life, making your own encounter with her themes all the more poignant.
She talks on stage of the chaotic and bitter consequences of being a young alcoholic woman fleeing up and down the country with her children and going from one disturbing ordeal to the next, on-the-run from her own chaotic behaviour. She tells how she had no understanding of why her life was unbearable nor what she had to do to achieve change. Even when she finally acknowledged her condition as a drunk, she had sunk too low to know how to pull herself up. Yet this is what she eventually did and she talks of her survival and getting a whole different perspective. Her audience that night was filled with people in recovery from their own self-abuse, clapping and cheering their way through the twists and turns of Geraldine’s life story. She’s gathered friends along the way because this artist does not stop at show-casing her artwork. She’s out too among the recovery groups in Bedford, working with organisations like Can and other health links, she’s talking to young adults at the YMCA and supporting anyone with a real interest in getting out of the living hell of alcoholism.
She’s making an impact all round with her natural ability and gift of the gab and she has the kind of vibrant personality that is hard for not to notice, plus a story that impacts everyone. For St Albans, she produced a truly spectacular oil canvass of an angel ... not your run of the mill sweet- winged pink thing, but something barely visible, tough, haunting, peering through at you from somewhere beyond everyday consciousness. She calls it ‘Guardian Angel’, a lingering reflection of her influence in this world.