In this series, we share stories from Art Jam participants. Art Jam - a volunteer-run program of the Salt Spring Arts Council - provides a safe, welcoming space for members of our marginalized community, where they can be defined as creators and artists, rather than by the challenges they regularly face. By celebrating their unique creative accomplishments and reinforcing the value of their work through public exhibitions we promote positive self-identities and help build self-esteem.
My name is Lesley and I’m over 50 years old. Right now I live in my parents’ home, an old pan abode, in the north end of the island. I had my own place at Murakami Gardens but moved out when I went to take care of my parents. My mom had lived with me for 5 months when I lived at Murakami Gardens, which was difficult because I only had a bachelor apartment. My mom went into extended care and then she died. My parents’ house is falling apart around me. My older sisters thought about selling the place and my youngest sister asked me what would happen to me if they sold the house. I told her I guess it would mean I was homeless. If the house was sold then I think I would want to go back to England, to North Wales or Costa Rica. I don’t have any connection to Costa Rica but I know that it has a good reputation for quality of life.
I used to live at home, in my parents’ basement with the furnace and water tank and the rats but I was fine with that. My dad thought it was no life for me so he told me to get out and get a life. Murakami Gardens opened at that time and it was the only place I could afford and it’s not that affordable. I used to get PWD benefits and a federal add on which came to about $920.00 a month. My apartment was 300 square feet and it was $679.00 a month with $100.00 off and included hydro. I had to pay for phone and computer on top of that and that didn’t leave much money for the rest of the month for food and other necessities.
I studied fine arts at the University of Alberta. While in England I worked as a photographer’s assistant. I got involved with a group of female artists and it was decided we should have a show. Whoever was making the decision about the subject, hadn’t chosen something and then they decided. It should be nudes of men because we were all women. They asked me only if I would make sure to not produce anything pornographic. I don’t know why they just said this to me. I do art at home. I like painting landscapes, people, and quirky things. My dads’ side of the family was very creative. He used to put me to shame with his art. He would sit down and doodle and it would be incredible. He really didn’t have much time for doodling but he was very talented.
I found out about Art Jam because of a therapist named Cesca. I met her because of my situation with my mom. She suggested I should go to Art Jam. Art Jam is a lifesaver, a connection to the world. I could stay up in that little house in the north end and never do anything so coming to Art Jam is good, it’s for me rather than for someone else.
My dream would be to have a house that didn’t need so much work, that wasn’t falling down around me. I would love to have someone to share my life with but I don’t think that is going to happen because of my history. I am a pretty hard person to get along with; at least I think I am.