This month’s image has very kindly been provided by Researching Reform’s Artist In Residence, Paul Brian Tovey.
Paul is an adult adoptee whose adoptive parents abused him in childhood. His work reflects the impact this abuse has had on his mental health, as a child and as an adult.
Paul now campaigns for adoptees to have the legal right to revert back to their birth identities.
This painting is titled, “Going home in the bedroom of the wall dog.”
Speaking to Researching Reform, Paul said:
“[The painting touches upon] The Art Of Facing Everything:
In 2023, the closer I get to talking to others in legal circles about the possibility of Revoking my Adoption on grounds of Human Rights and serious offence to my identity – the closer the destiny life fitted me for in exposing truth of child abuses inside Adoption arises. It arises in my art as deformed areas of my own childhood experience. I live my art organically. Fearlessly and often painfully. Grief matters to me to take care of. So does justice and exposure of truth. I am principle and fire made from pain.
There are no choices for some like me who are child abused and dream of monstrous hands in the dark grabbing genitals often even as an adult. I am still working through that trauma layer. It is very hard. Other layers are solved. Adoption was that type of trauma for me early on as a boy of 3 – 6 and onwards. The female Adopter did that to me, genital invasion. I wore a White Screaming Terror Crown. Mommy had gone. The spider with one eye was feared. He came in the dark for my willy. And fed.
My tears were given back only later as an emotionally anachronistic adult, safe, but very wrecked and broken. Never mind, Bucket in the picture you see will help me with tears and carrying them.
This time we see the dirty bedroom where so much happened was faced in Art. The Gnarled Carving in the corner is my friend. Is the face of the mouth of ugly howling I am still integrating in grief over years. Love him/her/they poor Corner Carving. I help corners to have voices. Years of trauma means many years of therapy to reduce emotional pain stored in the body and emotional organic self.
Too fast too quick in facing it, means insanity wanders into life. The pictures become the screams without sense to anchor sanity.
You are looking at my “Adoptee” brain/mind in that picture. Self rescue is ON. Always. The boy is gagged and blindfolded by dissociation but the artist and him are linked. We link therefore we are. Linkito Ergo Sum!! We are becoming joined at last. We need friends and the Dog in the Wall is there as witness and split off howlings we will become.
The scene is set to relive and feel components of more self integration that will emerge in other pictures . “HELD ON” ? What does it mean? You know what it means, and it plays on the fact too I was an Adoptee in Sheldon Birmingham UK. Broken senses. Broken Words. I heard them. I herd them too. Mending to the ending. That’s me. Painspeare.”
Our ongoing thanks to Paul for allowing us to share his powerful work, and his insight into childhoods which have been abused.