Celebrating 25 Years of Seasons Centre, Artist: Norma Vowels, 2020
This Artwork was commissioned by co-founder Rowley Ramey and contains 25 years of meaning and history.
“When Rowley asked me to create a stained-glass panel to celebrate the twenty-fifth anniversary of Seasons Centre, my mind went into overdrive.
Seasons Centre is an idea that blossomed from tragedy and love. Sometimes the most wonderful things grow from terrible pain and sadness. The glass I used for the heart to represent the love is not only red but offers a hint of fire when the light shines through it. The tears are simple water glass.
I have so many memories of my time at Seasons Centre. Images of so many things came to my mind, but I decided to stick with the first few things that popped into my head.
First there was Hope. She became a symbol for Seasons Centre right about the time we moved into the house. She was just a little character that was plucked from some clip art, but we gave her a name, Hope, and she took on a life of her own. She became a very important symbol for the Centre. I know that a lot of people feel that hope is the most important thing that Seasons offers the participants but, to my mind, hope is the first thing that Seasons offers the participants. I feel that hope is the jumping off point for all that Seasons has to offer. Once the participants realize there is hope, that opens the door for all the good things that Seasons Centre provides to aid in the healing process.
Then the stuffed animals came to mind. Each child received a cuddly stuffed animal at their intake interview. Usually they were teddy bears. All the kids wanted one, even the teenage boys. They were a tangible item that offered the children a bit of immediate comfort during their first visit.
The balloon release with messages from the participants was such a wonderful exercise but the idea of bubbles was even more appealing to me. Besides using plain bubbles made with iridised water glass, I wanted to include some bubbles with handprints. Putting a handprint on the wall is very important for the participants so I captured a section of the wall in the circle room and copied some of the marks left by the participants to use as a pattern.
There are many tools in the program area that the participants can use, and I think the ball pit is very popular so I thought a pile of balls would be a good example of that area. I just used clear glass in yellow, dark and light blue, red, orange and green for the balls.
I included a bright yellow sun with the dates to represent 25 years of light that Seasons Centre has returned to people’s lives. The glass I selected for the sky and background has a lot of action and texture that gives me the impression of the strong winds that come with a storm. It makes me think of the turmoil that people experience, and those feelings can surround us when we are trying to get through our grief. Even though the strong feelings we experience are not obvious to others, they are nevertheless very strong and can engulf us.
The house at 38 McDonald Street, was such an important step for Seasons Centre. For the staff and clients, the house is important but always in the background. I thought I would represent it in a very understated way. It is the calm, safe place to be during the journey to a new normal. Someplace where the participants can leave the confusion of grief outside and perhaps when they return to the world, they can carry a shield in the form of the coping techniques and tools that they learned in their groups.
Once upon a time, a fellow named Bill Harrison was removing the trees by the front veranda. His wife had died, and he was still missing her. I learned his story while I took him on a tour of the house. He came back a second day and he told me that just being in the house was a relief to him. He said that when he walked in the door, he could feel relief from his woes, and he felt so much calmer and happier just being there.
While I didn’t have any experience working with the children, I did have the opportunity to visit with each family briefly when they came for their intake interview. Even during that brief time there was a difference in the children. When the children arrived, they were almost always quiet, timid and subdued but following their intake interview they were much more effervescent and animated. I always marvelled at the difference in attitude that happened because of their visit.
At Seasons Centre all the participants learn that they are not the only one in the world who has experienced a tragedy. They are free to voice their ups and downs and in-betweens without judgement or criticism They learn coping skills that will continue to be beneficial to them long after they graduate from Seasons Centre. They learn that it’s OK to be happy again. Even the most stoic parents learn that when they do finally shed their tears and the reply will be a warm embrace.
I have so very many memories of Seasons Centre and I can recall so many stories, this letter could have turned into a book. I’ve always felt that Seasons Centre is a very special, almost magical place and I was always very proud to be a small part of all the good work that Seasons Centre has done.”