Starting to Paint
As with his books, there is a depth of meaning in many of Peter’s paintings.
When Peter first started painting, it became a valuable source of expression and healing from Post Traumatic Stress associated with abuse in a care facility. His early paintings therefore were very indicative of his inner turmoil, fear and pain.
Peter’s first painting on canvas at the ‘Onsite’ workshop was entitled ‘State of Being’ (below) and represents his transition through the different stages of his abuse experience.
His second painting from the workshop featured the ‘safety ball’ which appears in many of his earlier paintings and was inspired by the question: ‘What makes you feel safe?’
There were 11 paintings in the Safety Ball series. These represent Peter’s journey “from fear to freedom”, with many of the later paintings done in brighter colours to show the freedom from oppression and the joy the artist now feels inside.
As Peter explains, “for many, safety is not a part of their lives as they live in the hands of men without mercy or love.”
‘State of Being’
This was the first of two paintings done during the ‘Onsite’ program.
Peter’s explanation of this painting: “The white face and dark clothing on the left is me all screwed up and unhappy when those men were abusing me. It was really bad.
The small face underneath is the little boy inside crying out for help and not being able to get any when I was going through all those hard times.
The Yellow Face in the middle is me when I first came home and things started to get better.
The Third Face on the right is me now with all my wonderful workers and mum and dad and all the terrific things that I am doing now. That is my heart now – so happy.”
“The Black Flower and The Music”
This was the second painting Peter did at the “ONSITE” workshop. Peter has described this painting as showing “the inside of a man under such stress it was difficult to describe”.
“This painting shows the containment of my emotions and the feeling of safety wrapped in a ball. There were vines that grew up making a wall around the Safety Ball.
“The safety ball is depicted by the flower in this picture. The green is the plant and it has got my face in it. The face has the safety ball over the top and it is not allowed to get any bigger because the vines are stopping it from growing.
The vines represent two of the men who abused me. There is red in the background because I am angry. I can hear the music, which is outside calling me to get free, but I could not get past the vines and they kept the safety ball small and stopped it from growing. It is also golden on the outside because that is what it is meant to look like under normal circumstances. But the heart of the safety ball is black because the vines are stopping it from being golden. The vines look golden too, but their hearts are dark and their gold is different to mine. They stole my gold and put it over their dark hearts and it stopped people recognising that they were really dark on the inside”.