Lorena’s partner passed away unexpectedly in 2014. Already a private person, she withdrew even further in the aftermath.

When I asked her to be the subject of my entry, I was surprised at the willingness with which she said yes. Suddenly, after three years of fleeting and almost exclusively digital contact, she became a tangible and physical presence in my life again.

I wanted to paint Lorena as a testament to her resolve and as a celebration of the person she became after that time. I realised too that I had created a monument to the physical presence I no longer experienced, but that nonetheless continued to exist, grieve and heal.

To focus on her suffering would be to suggest her sense of self should be defined by grief. I wanted instead to celebrate her life now as equal in significance to her loss. I hope that with time and hindsight, this painting serves that purpose for her.

I included her tattoos and piercings as a reflection on our notions of permanence, and the limited control and influence we have over our own lives. Her choice of dress was her own – a serendipitous reference to regrowth and life after death.