Consequences and connections

Friday February 18, 2005

“This isn’t going to work,” said Graham, glumly. He’d spent the time yesterday while I was out supermarketing in preparing the walls in the kitchen to receive lining paper and paint as part of the make-over.

“How do you mean?” I asked.

“They chose this wallpaper awfully well. There’s nothing structurally wrong with these walls but they’ve seen a good deal of steam and successive make-overs. And I can’t guarantee that stripping the paper off will leave them in a good condition.”

“We could always strip them back to the masonry and call in a plasterer to do a refinish job.”

“No, they’re not that bad. That’d be an overkill. And it’d take a long, long time.”

“Ah. We shall have to think about this.”

So, this morning, when I found him, forlorn, trying to get the project further forward, I determined that a leap in the direction of lateral thinking was called for.

“How would it be if we dropped the paint idea and went for new wallpaper?”

“I think that might be a very good idea.”

“We could go out now and get some if you’d like.”

“Right,” he said, his mind made up. “That’s the only way we can get a decent job done of this. Now?”

“Give me half-an-hour.”

And that’s how the little blue Ford, sitting quietly in the garage and thinking it’d have a couple of days off, got to be fired up and pointed in the direction of the big metal shed housing Boston’s biggest DIY store. As a matter of fact, having studied the weather forecast for early next week, I was rather keen to do another supermarket pass and, since that metal shed is close by the DIY shed, I dropped Graham off at the doors of B&Q and then proceeded to Tesco’s to stock my cupboard up.

Between us we did a superb shop. Graham chose and purchased a perfect wallpaper and some other necessary bits, and I did my weekend grocery shop plus a couple of days of store-cupboard goodies to tide us over if, as forecast, the weather turns bad early next week.

When we got home I turned my attention to lunch, and then to my pile of old watercolours, drying happily in the study.

There’s a lesson to be learned from this exercise, at least there is a lesson to be learned by me. Never, ever, lay up paintings for storage without some notes on the origins, the aims and the meanings of the more obscure of your work.

I remember painting this one, from a black and white photograph in a Sunday newspaper sometime in 1996 or 1997, reacting to the excitement of an archeological find that had uncovered one of the most ancient of ecclesiastical calendars, one in the shape of wheel, ever to to be found in Britain. I remember feeling it was something like a mandala. I remember wanting to produce an image of it, abstracting from both. And I remember liking the result. But I didn’t make a note on the back, not even a precise date, and I didn’t keep the original newspaper cutting. I wish I had, because it would explain the thing to me.

I still like it, even though I am now tempted to liken it more to a section through a pomegranate, attending more to the mandala than the British calendar. But I’ve lost my direct connection with it, and I regret that.


Study in abstraction, 1997: Medieval ecclesiastic calendar
watercolour, pen and gouche on Langford paper



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