Lara Kester is a multi-disciplinary artist and curator. In 2021 Lara joined Aspex Portsmouth as the Assistant Curator, supported by a Weston Jerwood Creative Bursary. Lara's practice spans across video, performance, poetry, painting, ceramics, and film photography. With strong interests in family history, storytelling, memory and mystery, Lara explores the nature of ephemerality; opening portals reminiscent of transcendental and spell-like energy. Working within these fleeting realms, her work also plays with the liveness of performance and the fixation of its documentation.
Self Healed Quartz - Lara Kester - 2021
The history of my family is like a self healed quartz.
We too, were broken off from the matrix due to outsider force.
The state forcibly displaced us.
Sharp, blunt cuts that tried to break us
but our crystal still grew.
As the blood bleeds, the sap wraps itself around each wound.
Lately, I’ve begun to see
this regenerative formation
sealing the surface of the sea.
The very thing that consistently heals me.
The very substance that cuts our blood and dust together.
The trauma and the tranquility holding our pain and our power.
I walk wholeheartedly into the water,
giving them my everything.
As my bones submerge I feel them turning,
the way hers turned beneath the Mediterranean blue,
as they laid her to rest between two worlds I’ve yet to reach.
A lighthouse in the distance.
For now, I let my body be shaped by the sea,
for to them, I am but a stone that is to be sculpted.
Letting, he, she, it, they,
wrap their soothing arms around me.
And in that present moment
I am connected to the line of my blood
that crossed bodies of water.
I honour the missing, moving memories
of each daughter, that I am only just beginning
to finally touch.
Carrying memories faint and precious within me,
glinting, as they oscillate and amalgamate,
who I am becoming
and have come to be.
Self Healed Quartz is a short film by multi-disciplinary artist and early career curator Lara Kester. The film reflects upon the stories of the women along my maternal Spanish bloodline, delving into the mystery of my great-great-grandmother, Margarita from Gibraltar. The woman who marks the beginning of where my understanding of our families ancestry runs thin, due to the traumatic and forced displacement of four of Margarita’s eight children. Among the children forcibly displaced was my great-grandmother, Annie.
An air of ambiguity courses through the visuals and poetic narration of Self Healed Quartz, emphasising the little knowledge and records my family actually have; due to Annie never being able to see her mother or the majority of her family ever again (Annie & two others were sent to England, one sent to Canada, two remained in Gibraltar and two unknown). In the film and title, I metaphorically relate my family history to the becoming of a self healed quartz. Which happens when a crystal has broken off from the matrix due to an outside force or trauma, such as tectonic movement or sudden temperature change. In time, conditions allowed the crystal to continue growing, sealing over the jagged cut to literally self heal its wound. The terminations can vary from small triangular druzy formations, to several faces and double pointed terminations. Like the self healed quartz my family was suddenly broken off from its roots but the strength of our unit still grew. Birthing a sense of innate strength within us that has passed down through three generations, mother to daughter, mother to daughter, mother to daughter.
There are many more layers to this history (known and unknown, painful and soft) that I wish to currently leave hidden as it’s something my mother and I are in the process of slowly uncovering and coming to terms with ourselves. Wading through the memories and trauma carried and passed on to us through conversations and the movement of our blood, there are very little physical records or photographs that we own to help us connect to this past. We’ve spent years trying to unearth our missing, moving memories, casting our minds back to crumbs of conversations we had with my nanny, and my mum with hers. And still there is so little we know about Margarita, the one who started us all, for she is the farthest our search has spanned and before her lies an even longer stream we’re struggling but striving to explore.
The film acts as a starting point and container of our precious, personal puzzle we hope to piece together someday. Your eyes are met with a looping video of the sea, scans of a self healed quartz and archival imagery, all gently carried by a poem spoken by me. Water has become somewhat of an emblem that also represents my family, a substance present in each of our lives and the substance I feel relates most to mine and my families nature. Water becomes the mediator in all senses of the word, moving between the lost and the present, its waves ripple and shift, covering and uncovering the traces and remnants floating adrift. It is the vessel that holds our pain, when the children were taken they crossed the sea, thus physically symbolising and embodying the tearing apart. Yet, it is the vessel that holds our power, the sea being something I have always deeply and spiritually connected to and now live by and regularly swim within. Every swim is like a spell, each stroke a ritual honouring their past lives that hold and unfold beneath me. Essentially connecting me to each of those lives displaced across the water, acknowledging their’s and other water related trauma present in my family that my body and DNA memory also holds. I submerge my own body of water to actively heal our ancestral wounds and trauma whilst simultaneously reconnecting to Annie (who died before I was born) and was buried within the Mediterranean sea, returning her body to where she was born. My swimming serves as the conditions that shape me, continuing our story of sealing and self healing that have made me who I am today and who I am coming to be. An act of healing that encourages and enables me to carry on immersing into and passing down the memories of the remarkable, beautiful and powerful women that I am immensely grateful to have been created from and guided by intuitively.