Here, finally, is our gallery.
We, I mean John, spent most of a recent weekend planning and executing it. We are much more into music than art but have had a few pictures knocking around for ages, waiting for our house to be just perfect enough to put them up. We’ve realised with some sadness and brutality that it’s not going to happen for a while and that it’s no use saving things for best: better to enjoy them while one can. We had all these pictures just knocking around without a home so here thay are, happily installed in a gallery on our stairs.
Layzegennlemen, may I present our gallery, which started life, meticulously planned like this:
John took photos of the pictures to see how they would look positioned on the wall. This was great, and laudable and took ages, but placement was, in the end, a little more random.
The pictures are mainly just gathered haphazard-stylee because they moved us in some way.
Take, for instance, the two Chinese pictures on the left. The blue painting is a pastel I picked up on my first business trip to see Suzhou Copper Factory in 1989. I was charmed by this picture, thinking it an original, but later found several copies in markets all around China. The peacock pair is embroidery on silk and the four character phrase is an expression of marital fidelity. At the time I wasn’t married but desperate to be asked, to the extent that the subject was taboo lest I burst into tears. Hm. The things that aren’t said, eh? They found experssion in this picture.
Now, to the left of the embroidery is a picture taken from the Châtou bridge over the river Seine in Rueil Malmaison just west of Paris, where we lived for two years. This is where I took up running on the towpath three times a week and I have an excellent memory of doing star jumps on this bridge along to Ricky Martin on my first iPod shuffle, with the 9 year old Boywonder looking on, embarrassed and bemused. The terrain was largely flat and the Seine would look different on any given day. No wonder it inspired the Impressionists to such an extent. Have a look at paintings by Renoir. He loved this spot too. My dad died exactly seven years ago today and John bought this as a sympathy present for me from an art market held on that bank there on the left where the boats are.
Underneath the Châtou Bridge is a photo of the Boywonder at 7 months old, before his first haircut, just as he started to talk. He hasn’t stopped since. To the right of him is one of Miss DD’s earliest masterpieces, painted in Kindergarten when she was 3 years old. When asked what it was she said, with complete precision, “Barbados.” We had made our first trip to the Caribbean that summer, partly to avoid the Golden Jubilee festivities.
At the very bottom is a school photograph, the only one that includes both children. I have mixed feelings about this photo bcause it currently generates bitter-sweet feelings about their time at this school. My personal filters dictate that I can’t say any more about that here for the time being. I am hoping that time will fade the more painful experiences and emphasise the good ones.
Above and to the right of the school photo is a watercolour of Tuscany that we picked up on a visit to San Gimignano. I love the upright cypresses and the baked terracotta earth. Tuscany was expensive, however, and full of Germans and Brits, so I’m not sure how authentic our experience was, particularly when catering to the requirements of a 2 year old Boywonder.
Above Tuscany is one of the main prompts for finally installing this gallery, an evocative poster from @MrMarkFairhurst. I loved this picture when he tweeted it: it’s the combination of the Tour de France cyclists, with the evocative sauciness of the heels, the swishy skirt and stockings. Is she standing on a chair to get a better view of the competitors? Or are they just passing by unnoticed? And is her more pressing concern that bottle of wine she’s sharing with someone? Who is it? A husband? A lover? We shall never know.
Finally, we come to the original Hanne Ox oil painting of tulips I bought fro our local gallery wth probably the proceeds from my first invoice when I had my own consultancy business. We were trying to buy a house then, with which we had fallen in love and which we can actually see across the valley from our front windows. We were offered that house three times in total, probably as bait for the people who were dragging their feet with their mortgage. We lost the house and were devastated and I saw a disturbing abstract blue Hanne Ox, that reflected my desolation, evoking a tiny boat tossed on a turbulent sea. Sadly, as I ummed and ahhed over the price, that was sold and replaced by this friendly, cheerful tulip painting, which I can finally display.
I’m inordinately proud of our gallery and very grateful to John for his time and effort in planning and executing it.