January 1st, 2021. HOPE

Editor’s Note

The Artistic Differences Project is a child of the pandemic. It was an idea that I had floating around for a couple years that suddenly presented itself to me once again when I became unemployed and shackled to my flat. I couldn’t have imagined back in March the wonderful life this project would take on. I have had the pleasure over the past 30 exhibitions to work with some wonderful artists and writers and through the project make virtual connections around the world. To this end, I want simply to thank from the bottom of my heart all of the wonderful people I have worked with on this project and the massive support I have seen for ADP. It is truly an honour. If one good thing came of 2020 for me this is surely it.

On that note, this exhibition marks not only the 30th exhibition but also a new year and a wonderful new opportunity to hope. In classic ADP style, each of pieces bellow interpret HOPE in their own wonderful way and together present you the reader with an example of something truly special. Something I have been lucky enough to experience all year and hope to experience in the coming year also.

I hope where ever in the world you are you enjoy this exhibition and you carry hope with you into the coming year.

le grá agus dóchas,

Seán

– – –

‘2020-2021’ by Henri Syrjö

– – –

'Dare to Hope' by Vian Borchert
 In the heart of all of us
 There lays a hope 
 desiring to be free
 from the sadness 
 from the grim 
 and the depression
 and the wallowing.
  
 This hope is big
 This hope is great
 This hope will break barriers
 and sing
 This hope will shine
 This hope will bring forth happiness and care
 A community of sharing and love
 This hope is love
 for a bright future
 which will be 
 at our doorsteps
 if we allow it to be
 if we are allowed to see
 our hope within us
 For it will take us
 flying high
 above all troubles
 to a nurturing place
 a sound place
 where love and dreams come true.
 Take it, embrace it, love it
 for hope will be yours. 

– – –

‘Sally Pilgrim’ by Sally Pilgrim

– – –

‘Azalea’ by Vian Borchert (Watercolour and Mixed Media, 2020)

– – –

'Spring' by S.J. Saighead
 Spring will pick Winter from his frozen lake,
 And thaw him by the warmth the Summer shall make.
 She will exhibit new life upon forest and knoll,
 Emancipating river and lake, so that all will be whole.
 The earth will breed growth, and the air made anew
 When Spring courts Winter,
                     it is Summer who proves true. 

– – –

– – –

‘After a Dip’ by Cara Gilliland

– – –

'The Cupbearer' by M.A.A.
 Well, if the air isn't vibrant
 with furrowing electricity,
 one will be triumphant
 and we shall earn our drinks in time
 but as static as it may
 nothing will stay - take it as you feel
 but know that we will heal.
  
 It was a rumble of a sort:
 we spilled our drinks;
 waited for the dirks to hit,
 whether wine or blood
 ‘twas a long-lasting chore
 but it will be repaid
 in our own way - or not at all.
  
 I can hear the breaking glass
 stranger telling everyone to ask:
 is it really anymore true
 than those shady figures
 in the eye of the embrasure?
 After all is said and done
 there's no reason to worry -
 for it's those sudden acts of insanity
 teasing our simple minds,
 that give predicaments to normality
 and open new sights.
  
  
"Fate will be called to account for the cruelty it has perpetrated, 
         and the sultan of grace 
             will accept your plight.
 If what has been poured out is not filled, O cupbearer, 
         our empty cups shall be filled
             in this age."  
                     - Khwaja Abu'l-Baraka Firaqi 

– – –

‘Cloud Reflection’ by Vian Borchert (Acrylic on Canvas, 2019)

– – –

‘Thief of Hopes’ by Linda M. Crate

Jin didn’t have much hope, any more. She threw herself into the thrill of the hunt, and enjoyed seeing the terror and destruction she could cause by beings that underestimated her.

It amused her how capable humans saw themselves. They didn’t see that their own egos could be used against them, they didn’t see how their own arrogance could drag them down. They lived with their hopes and dreams leading the way, wearing their hearts on their sleeves. Even the most guarded of them could not escape their emotions, and the guarded ones were harder to take down because they trusted no one. She didn’t mind a challenge, though.

It was also amusing to her how some of them seemed to have impossible goals and dreams. They really did seem to believe that the sky was the limit.

They didn’t see that their flesh and bone would prevent them from doing all that they accomplished.

At one point she had hope once, but Jin had been young and human. She had been naïve to all the evils of the world, and she had been mostly innocent. Jin had helped her brothers flee the castle with the dragons, but those men who tried to attack her last night had given her a small hope and she wasn’t sure what to do with it.

The dragon they had freed from the clutches of the king had found a mate, and she had children. Her children still tormented the wicked king, and this gave her hope that one day this corrupt kingdom may find a better suited king.

Because even monsters abhorred corrupt rulers.

Jin could’ve left this place long ago, but the vampire stayed. Mostly out of guilt of never seeing her brothers again after she had been turned, and this small thread of hope that she may come across one of their descendants. Family had always mattered to her, after all, but how would she introduce herself? It wasn’t as if any of them would welcome her in with open arms. She was the most hated of all the monsters, a vampire.

People seemed to favor werewolves more than her, but perhaps it was because they believed the lie that werewolves didn’t attack except when there was a full moon. Whilst this was sometimes the case, there were some werewolves that could shift whenever they wanted so they could be every bit as unsafe as vampires.

It always amused her when humans said vampires couldn’t walk in the light. Did they hope that would be enough to protect them? The sun may annoy her, but she could still walk into it without turning into ash. Stakes and crucifixes didn’t work. Only fire. Or if one managed to sever a vampire’s head from their body, but she didn’t foresee that happening very often. Vampires were too clever to allow anyone to do that. Most vampires, she reminded herself.

She suddenly remembered when she was younger and talking with her siblings. “What is a life lived without hope?”

Jin smiled, darkly. “Bitter and hallow and empty,” she said, out loud. Yet she had this need for self-preservation and to live. So she tried to ignore this endless sea of dark loneliness that sometimes inhabited her bones. She swore to herself that she would not be like her vampire master who had taken her with the express intent of making her one of his other brides. She had him killed, letting him take the blame for something she had done, and she did not regret it. He had been an oppressive and cruel beast. Just thinking about him was enough to make her want to vomit.

She did have to deal with the wrath of his wives, though, but the four of them underestimated her strength and she sent them to hell after him.

Jin wasn’t sorry for any of it. She remembered that night he had turned her. It had been an agonizing pain that had taken her from behind when she had gotten separated from her brothers. She wondered what ever became of them, had they come back to look for her? She didn’t know.

That awful man that had intended to make her his fifth bride had dragged her away from the life she had known. She hadn’t been married to him before she had gotten him killed, and thank Merlin for that. It was easier to live her life without excess baggage dragging her down.

Jin didn’t know what was inspiring these thoughts, but she wished that they would stop. They were making her a bit sullen, and she didn’t want to deal with her emotions regarding the past. It was over and done now. She couldn’t go back in time and change anything. If she could, she would’ve ensured that she would’ve never run into that vampire and she could’ve lived happily with her brothers. She could’ve seen the dragon find a mate and she could’ve held the dragon’s babies when they were mere eggs, and she would’ve had a life full of hope and promise and laughter.

Not this solitude, this darkness, this rage, and this hunger which never died. Jin brushed her long black locks away from her eyes as she heard voices in the darkness. She stopped to listen.

Two young men and a young woman. There was laughing and merriment to be had, but she felt her mouth water. Their blood was less tainted by darkness than the people she had encountered the previous night, and so she silently crept to the place where the young adults sat together. All she had to do was to wait for the right moment to strike.

Well, this improved her mood considerably. It was something to distract her from these annoying thoughts swirling around her mind making her moodier than usual.

They were there to get drunk, Jin observed, as there was much to do about opening their drinks. She listened to their conversations go from profound and slightly interesting things should one have been human until they became drunken stupors and arguments over the most childish of things.

“Well, I hope we all die then!” the woman snapped, looking enraged.

“Why would you say that?” one of the men demanded, looking irritable.

“Well, you’re the one that said we should die!”

“No, I said we’ll die one day.”

Jin couldn’t help but find this moment to be the opening she was waiting for. “Well, no time like the present.”

“Who the hell are you?”

“Your worst nightmare,” Jin answered, brushing off her long black robes. Her black eyes took on a red hue as she stepped closer to the young ones and their fire. “And I think the question isn’t who am I, but rather what am I?”

“Get away, beast!”

“Beast is more fitting of a werewolf,” Jin retorted, rolling her eyes. “Can’t you humans ever be original? I guess that would be too much to ask.”

“Get away from us, you monster!” the woman shouted.

“You’re the one that said you hoped that you all died. I’m only here to do you a favor. You should be grateful for my kindness,” Jin smirked.

“Kindness? Killing people is kindness?”

“I was told growing up that you’re supposed to kill people with kindness,” Jin mocked, her voice taking on a sing-song tone.

“I don’t think that’s how they meant it.”

Jin snorted. “They left a lot up to the imagination then, didn’t they?” she winked at the nearest man. She didn’t give him a chance to respond before her fangs were at his throat, extracting every last ruby of his blood. She threw his body to the fire. “Who next?” she sneered, taking pleasure in the fear she saw dancing in the eyes of the young man and the young woman before her. She circled them like vultures. “Come on, who next?” she sneered.

They were both rigid with fear and she hadn’t even had to put either of them in a trance. The vampire laughed a dark and evil laugh as she circled them over and over as she made her decision. “How about you next then,” she insisted, grabbing the other remaining man.

“No, you leave him alone,” the woman insisted.

Jin snorted. “What are you going to do about it?” The girl whimpered and Jin let out another nasty laugh. She then looked at the man, rolling her eyes as he wet himself. “I know that I’m terrifying, but you’re honestly that bad at holding your liquor? It’s a wonder you thought you were safe in the wood.” She then leaned forward, teasing his throat with her fangs, before she bit deeply. When she had finished with him, she threw his body to the fire as well.

But the young woman was missing. Where exactly had she gone? Jin heard a frantic heartbeat a few feet away. She hadn’t gotten that far. Good!

Jin slowly walked in the direction of the girl, wondering what sort of fight this one would put up. She realized that the young woman had thought to grab a branch and the branch was on fire. Well, perhaps, this human was a bit cleverer than her companions.

Jin glanced at the girl, managing to sneak up on her from behind. “That fire won’t be necessary,” she insisted, grabbing the young woman from behind.

The woman screamed, dropping the branch, and a twisted smirk crossed the vampire’s face as Jin noticed the branch had fallen into a small stream of fire and had gone out. Now this woman was no longer a threat to her.

“Miss me?”

“Why can’t you let me live. You’ve already killed my friends!”

“Well, I’m fulfilling your ill stated hope. You’re the one that hoped you all were dead, and I’m just the woman you’re looking for to accomplish that deed,” Jin snorted.

“It was a stupid thing to say,” the young woman insisted. “I agree, I shouldn’t have said it, but please…I don’t want to die. I have hopes and dreams of my own…”

“You think I didn’t when he turned me,” Jin scoffed. “My brothers died without ever knowing what happened to their sister,” she hissed. “No one showed me any mercy.” She then snagged her hands into the woman’s thick curls before biting deeply into her throat.

Jin let out a hiss when she was finished, throwing the body away from her, she used magic to transform what was left of the woman into a mushroom. She then walked to where the bodies of the young men were and sped up the fire with magic, watchings as the last of their flesh became ash before she disappeared to continue hunting.

The blood had tasted good, but her mood had been sullied by that young thing that had reminded her of the master who had stolen all of her hopes away. Jin clenched her fist. It was off to the next of the prey she could find, and this time she wouldn’t allow herself to be so vulnerable.

Because when one was vulnerable it led them to be defenseless against those who would prey on them, and once she had been turned into a predator she had decided that she would never be prey to anyone again. She would be the thief of hopes, the smasher of dreams, the destroyer of sacred life. Her master had shown her no mercy when he turned her, and so she would strike down every creature with a vengeance.

“Thief of hopes, face me!”

Jin looked up to see a figure in the distance. The blood smelled ever so sweet. This foolish faerie ought to know that fae blood tasted better to her than that of any human. Did this person have a death wish? Ah, well. The beast within would be sated for a while should she succeed in this, and she had no doubt that she would. After all, she was older than even this faerie.

– – –

Finally

Thank you for supporting The Artistic Differences Project, we look forward to seeing you in 2021!

ADP will return on 11th January 2021

Next exhibition theme: MAKE IT NEW

Deadline: Midnight, January 10th

Submit at: artisticdifferencesproject@gmail.com

More information under ‘Submissions’ tab

Published by artisticdifferencescurator

My name is Seán and I am the creator and curator of the Artistic Differences Project. I started this project during the lockdown in Ireland due to COVID-19 in March 2020 as a way to get my friends and I creating during a troubling time. From there the project as gone from strength to strength and now we publish a new exhibition every two weeks.

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