Mathew Carney - Sculptor
(eulogy by his wife Emily, delivered at St.Marys Church, North Sydney, on Thursday June 30,2011)
Hi everybody. What a life! I need to say that again.
What a life!
We all wander on through our days and hours and minutes and live with this assumption that it will all keep ticking over.
That tomorrow will follow today, that we will pick up the dry cleaning on Tuesday and have a picnic on Sunday.
Last Saturday night, Matt, Cal and myself sat up and watched Kung Fu Panda together. At a very poignant moment in the movie the shaman turtle said,
“Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery and today is a gift . That is why it is called the present.”
Matt and I locked eyes over Cals head and smiled at each other.
Matt and I met almost 10 years ago. October 2001. At the time I was living in New York.
I met him at a major sculpture show in Chicago. My sister was in from LA exhibiting and I went along to support her. Only weeks before the World Trade Center had been bombed and I was numb, dazed and grief stricken as all New Yorkers were. Matt had booked his trip to the states before that terrible day, but being Matt, bravely set off to America, despite the climate of terror.
The first part of Matt I saw was his leather clad butt up a ladder. I remember eyeing him off and watching him descend.
He was introduced to me in a group of people and when our eyes met I felt like I had known him forever.
Cos Matt was like that. When he gave you his full open smile,
His direct eye contact, you felt like you were the only person in the world. He made everyone feel like that and that’s why you are all here today.
I felt so safe with matt because although I was in America, the show was full of people from everywhere. Having come from New York people didn’t know what to say to me. They all avoided me. Except Matt.
We talked a lot over those few days and when he kissed me on the forehead goodbye as I went off to New York and he to London he said, ”This is the start of a very long conversation.”
And so it was – the rest is history. I came back to Australia in January 2002 and we were married in January 2003.
Calpurnia was born May 2004. We didn’t muck around.
We had the most fantastic life together. Full of art, and music and literature. Little girl cuddles, bushwalks, Zhenya the husky and closeup our perfect white cat with different colored eyes.
We dove off the rocks at Adventure Bay for abalone, scaled the heights of Fluted Cape.
I watched him nurture the exotic trees in the garden of his mother Natalie’s dascha on Bruny. The arrangement here on his coffin is made up of those trees. The tortured willows, the blue spruce, the grevillieas and filberts.
He loved nature. Loved its force. He would rig up his windsurfer and head out to Simpsons Bay when the roaring 40’s came through and race the cars along the Neck doing 80kms an hour.
He’d come home salty and sandy and cold with a huge grin on his face and yell “I’m alive!” as he came through the door.
And he sure was. He didn’t waste a minute.
His whole life was a celebration. His quest was for meaning.
In his sculpture he worked patiently, conjuring up such beauty for people. Everything boldly declaring,’You are not alone.
His schools of fish, the woman holding the world in the palm of her hands. The filigree leaf of exquisite perfect fibenaci detail.
His bronze woman pouring. The woman offering the cup of life. Woman in Space. Obsession. I could go on forever – better to google him and cruise his website – such a massive body of work for one so young.
He had an amazing work ethic. In the studio 6 days a week. Even when inspiration was slow in coming, he kept working.
These pieces here, the crescents are part of a series he started back in November 2001. He started with the huge pile of scrap metal under his bench and set to make something beautiful from the unwanted.
Here was a man who could take sharp edges and soften them to a curve, rusty sharp lines became the moon. What a gift.
After Cal was born, we started playing music together.
Matt on flute or guitar and I sang. I went back to the piano so I could accompany him on the flute.
And he got serious about the guitar. He fell in love with his guitar and would get up at 4am in the morning to practise before Cal and I awoke.
When we moved to Sydney we started getting some gigs and he encouraged me to start writing songs for us to play. So I did.
And writing from what I knew – they were love songs.
“Hello lovebugs of loveness” he would say to me.
Together everyday, talking art, playing music, raising our daughter we were rarely apart. And to the last , I still swooned when he kissed me.
Matt also unearthed a new passion in the last few years. Technology had advance to a place that now allowed my dyslexic husband to read through audio books. What joy he found! The wisdom of living with immediacy of action blew beyond the stratosphere as he discovered history, science, literature. Down in his workshop he would shape his waxes for casting with his ipod plugged in, soaking it all in.
He had always felt so compromised by his dyslexia and here he had found a way to feed his mind.
The amazing kind father and husband grew.
The already empathic, sensitive, intuitive soul grew.
And when he left us last Thursday, he was perfect.
I blessed him the night before he died. I annointed him with oils and kissed him all over his face.
We didn’t know he was going. He did. He had made peace with relationships he had found troubling, he had been given a chance since he was diagnosed with cancer to really think about what his life meant to him.
And he was happy. Really happy.
He said to me only a few weeks ago,
“Em, If I die, that’s okay. I’ve had an amazing life. I love my life and I have loved all of it. Even the dark times.”
Another time as we were working through the shock of his diagnosis he said to me,
“I don’t have a bucket list. I am doing exactly what I want to be doing. I love my life.”
And last Thursday morning he cupped my face in his hands , kissed me deeply and said,
“I love you more than you will ever know,”
He was a prince among men.
I know that you are all so sad he is gone, but be glad he was a part of your life.
Learn from him. Explore your desires, challenge yourself.
Make beauty. Love freely. Be who you are.
Because this is it. The present .
I have this brief time here to try and capture him . And I could go on forever. And when I sit down that moment will be passed. Don’t waste your moments.
I’m looking forward to talking with you back at Mum and Dads. Sharing our unique precious moments that we had with Matt.
This song is a song Matt and I wrote together and we recorded last year.
It’s called life on love alone and matts guitar rocks!
I’ll end where I began.
What a life! What a life!