What a joy to paint this ‘portrait’ of this old Batterwhip which has lived in Nancyann’s kitchen draw for longer than she can remember! It is a beautiful object, and at some point in the past has had an old builders scraper welded to it to make a new handle. Made a refreshing change from painting book ‘Shelf-Portraits’!
(I love his literal and thorough observations of everyday surroundings and possessions, and that he can cover several pages with nothing but a list of items and it is still fascinating to read.)
(and his hair and googly eyes, obviously)
…anyhow, as I was saying: Perusing George Perec in my lunch-break I came across this at the end of a lengthy, detailed description of the contents of a cellar (‘Life: A User’s Manual’ p153/155), and it struck a cord…(see below)
”The Altamonts’ cellar, clean, tidy, and neat: from floor to ceiling, shelving and pigeonholes labelled in large, legible letters. A place for everything and everything in its place……
….To the far right, finally, between the wall and the door… …comes the maintenance, cleansing, and miscellaneous supplies section: stacks of floorcloths, cartons of washing powder, detergents, descaling liquid, bleach products for unblocking waste pipes, supplies of ammonia bleach, sponges, products for polishing floors, cleaning windows, shining brass, untarnishing silver, for brightening glassware, floortiles, and linoleum, broomheads, Hoover bags, candles, spare matches, piles of electric batteries, coffee filters, soluble asprin with added vitamin C, candle bulbs for chandeliers, razor blades, cheap Eau de Cologne in litre bottles, soap, shampoo, cottonwool, cottonbuds, emery nailfiles, ink cartridges, beeswax, paint pots, dressings for minor cuts, insecticides, firelighters, dustbin liners, flints for cigarette lighters, and kitchen paper rolls.”
My favourite one of my paintings of the last year, ‘The Friendly Fork’, inspired by my Aunt’s silver cutlery and Alan Bennett’s words:
‘’Note how personalised and peopled the material world is at a level almost beneath scrutiny. I’m thinking of the cutlery in the drawer or the crockery I every morning empty from the dishwasher. Some wooden spoons, for instance, I like, think of as friendly, others impersonal or without character. Some bowls are favourites; others I have no feeling for at all. There is the friendly fork, a bad knife and a blue and white plate that is thicker than the others which I think of as taking a kick if I discriminate against it by using it less.’’ Alan Bennett, ‘Untold Stories’
The first time I read those words I exclaimed out loud to the book ‘YES! That’s exactly what I’m on about!’
This Friendly Fork and its friends have sold, and are now hanging in their new (beautiful) surroundings…..