A painting in honour of Laura

I painted ‘You Are Free Now, (and so am I), in November 2017. It was exhibited at the art@clocktower gallery at the V & A Waterfront in Cape Town.


‘My daughter, Laura Vanessa Nunes, died by suicide from the 148th floor of the Burj Khalifa, Dubai, on 16 November 2014.

Laura is walking into the light that she so desperately looked for when she was alive. She is wearing her plainest abaya, her favoured form of attire, and her hair is tied back into a ponytail. She converted to Islam in Lenasia, South Africa in 1996, and again embraced Islam in Dubai in April 2014. Above her is her ‘Midnite Star’. To the right of the star, when the painting was upright and paint dripped, it formed an M. Laura was obsessively in love with Mubarak bin Fahad, a businessman in Dubai.

To the left of the painting is a full moon under the sea. Laura was a Cancerian, and she was always heavily influenced by the full moon.

On the surface of the canvas, sand from the beach in Hout Bay, part of Laura’s story. Most of her ashes were released into the ocean on 29 February 2015 in this little bay. On 16 November 2017, the last of her ashes were released into the strong wind, blowing towards the ocean, close to where her other ashes were released…You Are Free Now, (and so am I). Except it took me another three years to finally find peace’.

I remember the days running up to 16 November 2017 clearly. Mark Saunokono had written an article for 9News Australia on the cover-up of Laura’s death and it was due to be released on the third anniversary of her death. At the same time I also had another personal trauma to deal with.

I had kept some of my Laura’s ashes and some of my late husband Rod’s ashes as, apart from not wanting to let go of them, I thought that once I died our ashes could all be released together, to dance in the waves. But three years later I felt that it was finally time to let them go.

I poured Rod’s ashes into the bottle which held Laura’s remaining ashes and then my son Matthew and I drove to Chapman’s Peak. It was a beautiful vista, the Sentinel majestic, overlooking the little bay of Hout Bay. It was time. The wind was strong and as I released their ashes, handful by handful, the wind snatched them from my hands and took them out to sea, eager for them to be free at last. I silently apologised to Rod for the cold water as he was a Durban boy and the sea was too cold for him in the Cape. Matthew and I stood for a few minutes, silent in our sadness.

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