Sarah Britten
Sarah Britten

If your heart wore a label, what would it read?

“Damaged: handle with care.” “Always open.” “Stupid is as stupid does.” If you had to stick a label on your heart, what would it read?

I got to thinking about this the other day after tweeting: “I need to label my hearts.” I meant typing up and printing out labels for my Seeing Life Feelingly exhibition at Odd Cafe, but it started a whole conversation with a group of women who have definite ideas about what they’d want to label theirs.

Here’s what one suggested:

fo heart

And another:

fragile

What might we label our hearts? Happy? Fixed? On the mend? Shopsoiled? Whenever I ask this question, I get the impression that there are a lot of wounded people out there. It’s a hurt that takes a very long time to heal, if it ever does.

I’m never sure whether to admire or pity people who are able to put the pain to one side and leap in again, only to face the some awful possibility of something that isn’t simply a soap operaesque turn of phrase, but has real physical consequences. A broken heart can kill you.

I’m not prepared to put up with that kind of risk. If I were to label my heart, I’d probably go for something that all South Africans can identify with:

adt

Or this:

ingozi

No misunderstandings there.

If you’re interested in seeing the somewhat less cynical hearts that inspired these ones, head along to Odd Cafe in Greenside this weekend. Each costs R300, less than the retail price of the frame, and half of the proceeds go to Home of Hope — a really good cause, or I wouldn’t be using this as a platform to punt my work. Whether you’re buying for a happy heart or a broken one, you’ll hopefully find something of meaning there.

There’s also a second exhibition downstairs of all my sketches and experiments, many of which I’ve posted on Thought Leader over the last couple of years. If you’re curious, please do take a look.

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