The theme of the design is inspired by the song Midnight Dancing, written and composed by David, originally written about the surreal dream state we often find ourselves in. This transfers itself to the same surreal feeling experienced by many when dealing with cancer. It is a song about the journey of life; love and sharing of the ups and downs within the ‘comfort zone’ with friends or partners. The song illustrates how through the dance of life the good times and the difficulties are always revealed on the journey. It exposes how we need companionship to help us through the hard times, ‘won’t you come with me on the journey, stay close to me for the while’ and how we ‘shed some tears and laugh a lot’ through different experiences we face. We have a need for something or someone to lift us up when we feel down, ‘…safe in my arms and deep in my heart you are carried’.
David was also inspired by the poem ‘A Kite for Aibhin’ by Seamus Heaney. The kite is a metaphor for life which is raised by the wind, our experiences. The string of the kite acts like a life line connecting the deepest longings of life, death and beyond. Like the kite, life seems to ‘hover, tug, veer and dive askew’; life can dip or soar in the air streams. The poem evokes childhood memories of a kite flying in a local landscape with gentle sloping hills in a place of clear water with hedges and trees stripped of their leaves ready for spring to begin a new cycle of life.
The story in the design begins with a sleeping figure having a ‘beautiful dream’ (small section top left). Below this in the other small section, four people have their hands like spindles spooling the strings connected to their kites. One figure is reeling in the string of his kite which has broken free, symbolising the breaking free from cancer whether through passing away and freedom from suffering or through the hope of healing and breaking free from the disease.
In the main section there are four kites. The top left kite is soaring strongly with the wind, while the top right kite is ‘veering askew’ on the air stream, in the bottom right the kite is dipping towards earth symbolising the times in life when we feel low. The middle kite is detached from its string with the freedom to be swept high on the wind symbolising a message of hope. The kites are like ‘thin stemmed flowers’ reflecting spring, summer, autumn and winter; a reference to the changing seasons in the cycle of life.
In the centre of the design an alder tree is silhouetted against the sunset. Along with the round tower (middle left) this is a reference to the local area of Antrim. Two figures are talking together in the ‘comfort zone’ under the shade and protection of two trees. There is a sense of warmth and love surrounding them.
Below the figures is churning waters with six spirals, the six mile river and Lough Neagh reflecting the song,
Take hold of my hand we’re moving over those churning waters…you raise me up
The two figures are hand in hand helping each other through the journey faced which is symbolised by the churning waters.
The dancing figures in the middle left section of the design reflect the dance of life; a sense of happy times shared. Shapes like leaves and footprints dance across the design, ‘lets go crazy together dancing with our feet against the wall’. This is symbolising the feeling of detachment we often feel in times of hardship as we follow a path unknown, however, like the pre-planned steps of a waltz we can follow the steps produced by MacMillan to guide us through these uncertain times.
The ‘mystery moon’ in the top section of the design evokes a sense of time and the hope of a ‘new dawn’; a time when any suffering will be behind us. The open door in the right section of the design symbolises an exit from this difficult time; an image of hope that this hardship will not be endured forever, that it is a transient time in the cycle of life.
Three vertical divisions in the design help to emphasise time and a sequence of events reading from left to right. It illustrates how every journey has a beginning, a middle and an end as can be seen by the dancing footsteps dancing across the window and out of the open door. Just like in song when we get ‘lost in the music… moving in lyrical rhythm’ in life we get lost in the circumstance and move through it.
The scene played out is rhythmic yet at its core evokes a sense of tranquillity and calm, safety and warmth that within the ‘tossing and turning’ when life seems against us we feel a sense of hope.
The overall theme of the window centralises on calm in the midst of turmoil. The room where the window is situated is a space for reflection and quiet, my hope is that the people viewing this window will take hold of these emotions not only through the design but through the use of colours; calming greens and blues and hope revealed through yellows and oranges.