Archives for posts with tag: artwork


I have a painting on the wall from a well known American Artist.

I say well known, I had never heard of him.
In fact I have just been googling him to see who he is.

He has done a lot it seems.

This one is not actually worth anything though.

The man who digs the garden knocked the painting off the wall.

Actually he bumped it on the way up the stairs and it must have hung by a thread for half an hour before it fell.

We had been discussing the Smiths.
The man who digs the garden does not particularly love the Smiths, the band from the late eighties, but he does not mind them.
He sometimes listens to them.

I had gone so far as to saying I hate the Smiths.
Actually I just actively dislike the music.
In reality it is only Morrisey’s voice I don’t like.

It was something of a pain when I was young.
I hung around with many, many Smiths fans.
In the tribal way of teenagers I looked and dressed very much like my friends.
I looked and dressed like a Smiths fan.

I was not a Smiths fan.
It would have been easier if I had just pretended that I liked them I suppose.

This preconception of me and my musical tastes carried on and carries on now.
I still meet people who are surprised that I don’t like the Smiths.

Laura even made me a compilation CD (as one does on occasion in relationships) on which was “There is a light that never goes out”, a song I used to find particularly unpleasant when I was in my late teens.

However unpleasant I used to find it, nowadays it just reminds me that Laura loved it so much she put it on a compilation CD for me.

Nowadays I can listen to the Smiths and it just reminds me of all those friends I don’t see any more and how much of a laugh it was being young.
That is what Morrisey means to me now.
Thank you Morrisey.
Listening to your voice means something.
It means looking at the man who digs the garden, gnarled hands, bald head, bushy beard, and seeing him as an 18year old again.
I don’t play the Smiths but these days I don’t turn them off either.

Where was I?

The painting is on an old panel of wood inside a frame and it came down the stairs, spinning off the third step and crashed into the hallway.

It made a real racket and dinked a hole in the floor where it hit.

The painting cracked from top to bottom.

Right down the middle and a shiver of the panel came out.

It is an old panel of wood and very dry.

It comes from The Canon Emeritus of Salisbury Cathedral’s time as the chaplain at Marlborough School.
One of the students was leaving and gave the Canon Emeritus of Salisbury Cathedral one of his pictures.
He then went on to Art School and moved to New York where he became very successful.

The painting is from his time before Art School.

It shows a figure that looks like Christ sitting with his head in his hands, weeping.
He is seen through the ephemeral shadow of a Cambell’s soup tin.
Yep, Cambell’s soup can.
It was painted in 1968 by a school boy so we can cut the guy some slack.

Also, the use of the soup can is explained in a Latin inscription across the top and the painted note on the back.

The picture is called “The State of America, 1968″.

Being one of those things that a Clergyman might collect through his life it was eventually passed on to the Canon Emeritus of Salisbury Cathedral’s daughter.

Laura brought it with her when we moved to Cornwall together.

There were many casualties of our moves, we no long have the picture of ‘Donkey by Spanish Windmills” which used to be in Laura’s room when she was a child.
We did not keep the four foot high African fertility doll. Once Prole2 turned up that thing was gone.
We did not keep the 1930s arm chair.
The white chest of drawers went to a bonfire.
My book cases went to the charity shop.
At a conservative estimate about four hundred books went to new homes.

I sort of do and don’t like the painting.

When I first saw it I was not enamoured.
I did not actually dislike it as much as, say, the Smiths but I was not keen.
As the years have gone by I have mellowed towards it.

When I saw it damaged I was actually very upset.

It may be worth nothing to the art world and I don’t know what will happen to it in the future but I love the heritage, the links and the story of it.

I re-hung it and I know enough about these things not to attempt mending it on my own.

It now has a crack, a new piece of history, another page to the story.


One of the nicest things I do with the Proles is the rolling display of ‘art’ around the house.

During an office move there were a series of picture frames that were up for grabs so with no real thought behind it I nabbed them.

Now every once in a while I take some of the landslide of ‘art’ the boys bring home and put it in the frames.

The frames are relatively large when compared to A4 paper so often one picture will act as a back drop for another or images will montage slightly as I cram them in to fill up the frame.

Being low on critical faculties the Proles don’t mind this so much.

Sometimes I need a little help in curation.

Prole1’s “picture of active sloth’ was presented in conjunction with ‘harbour scene’.
In itself  this was not considered a problem, after all, as Prole1 pointed out, they were both fairly brown.
The problem occurred in that the ‘harbour scene’ went into the frame the wrong way up.
Following the minute detailing of the image and the original intention by the artist I took it down, took the picture out, got distracted by the washing, went back and placed the picture upside down again.

Prole1 patted my hand.

Prole1: If you like it that way up Dad, you keep it that way up.

Then he kissed my forehead and went to spread patronising joy to the rest of the house.

In the hallway there is a small rectangular hole in the wall, this is where the door handle used to go when the door was opened fully.
Nowadays the door is double glazed plastic and I don’t think they really considered the architecture of Redruth when they constructed it.
The hole is no longer used and so we put a small picture frame around it and use it as a temporary display case for small sculptures and more three dimensional pieces.

It is no Tate Turbine Hall but the Proles can on occasion exceed all expectations.
“All the green lego” was a challenging installation, ‘my clay crocodile’ was a  psychedelic  exhibit and we are seeing the return of ‘snail money box’ by Prole2 at the moment.
There is a small piece of paper in there with his name on.

Prole2: So people know I did it.

Me: Great, why is there a picture of a castle on the paper?

Prole2: Extra art. More fun.

Me: Oh, yes of course.

The celebration of their ‘artwork’ is in a way to salve my own conscience.
As I have said elsewhere, ‘art’ comes in through the door at an alarming rate.

What to do with this landslide of mutilated paper and card is a real dilemma.

The Proles put heart and soul into their work, they can tell you all the tiny details of the process and their thinking.
This can be useful most of the time because it is hard to see if any thinking were part of the process at all.

They bring this stuff home and say things like: Here you go Dad, I did this specially for you.

And I can see in their eyes that I am holding their dream. A dream that this piece of work will make me happy. That this picture, dawned in paint and slightly crumpled, will in some way make my life complete.

I have seen the sort of thing they get me for Christmas, even with a chaperone, they have no idea what I might like.
But it is written all over their faces that they think, or rather believe with every quivering fibre of their being, that I love this stuff.

What to do when you hold so many dreams?

Well, not so much hold as stuff them under the stairs.
We have so much ‘art’ under the stairs a fire officer would have a fit.
Fortunately it is so thick with paint and glue I believe it may be th last thing to go up if the house burns down.

What to do?

There is a slow process of ‘retirement’, as you would imagine, but I am nervous of the shattered dream.

I am being glib about this of course but I do love it all as well.
The bright eyes as they talk about the current piece and they la it out o the table for me to look at.
It is wonderful.

But I can’t keep it all. I can’t really keep even a fraction of what they bring home.

My house is stuffed with so much of the past I cannot really afford to keep much more.

I have to clear back for the future.

I have to be brutal with painted pictures, squash clay models, tiny trousers, forgotten toys, worn out shoes, little tiny gloves, faded t shirts and first bicycles.

I don’t have tiny weeny little boys any more.
Riding the leading edge of their growth is like surfing on the front of an emotional wave, I have to be responsive and keep up or I will go under.

I have to take moments and images and artefacts where I can but leave the path clear for the future.
It is a small collection but it tis a vital one.
I am not just being sentimental.

I could clear it all out of course but then if they ceased to be for any reason, how could I ever get it back?

How will I know they were here?

Prole2 and I are standing in the rain.
Prole2 is playing the ‘I can step on your feet’ game.
The rules are not subtle and we had been doing it for a while.
I am watching all the children filing out of school.
The steady stream of children and parents started to peter out.
Then the after school clubs started to pass by, rugby and football, already changed and carrying flags and string bags stuffed with balls.

Eventually the flow of people dried up completely.

The teachers began putting locks on all the playground gates.

A passing teacher smiled and nodded as if to suggest standing in the rain was the great tragedy of parenthood.
The rain gave a little flurry as if to try to nudge us.
Prole2 got both his feet onto mine and tried to jump up and down which is the end game and final set of the ‘I can stamp on your feet’ game.

Me: What did you do at school today?

Prole2: Nuffin, nuffin, nuffin, nuffin, nuffin.

Each ’nuffin’ is accompanied buy a jump on my feet.

I shuffle him over and out of the wind. It is tricky to walk with a small boy standing on your feet but fortunately it’s a talent you are just blessed with by sheer dint of being a Dad.

Finally Prole1 heaves his huge bag into view.

He seems in no hurry.

Me: Hello.

Prole1: Hello. How are you today?

Me: I am, um, wet but good. Why are you late?

Prole1: Well, to explain that I will have to tell you what I have been doing this after noon.

Me: Ok…

Prole1: Did you see the double rainbow? The one that started over there and came down there and was so beautiful?

Me: I saw a rainbow today but not a double one.

Prole1: It was lovely.

Me: Is that why you were late?

Prole1: No of course not.

Me: Ok. Um…why were you late?

Prole1: Do you remember I did Art Progression last year?

Me: I…Art Progression…um…No.

Prole: I drew a picture of my cousin?

Me: I..your cousin…have I seen it?

Prole1: Yes, the purple one?

Me: Oh, was that your cousin?

Prole1: Yes. It was terrible.

Me: Yes. I mean yes I have seen it. I didn’t know…I did not know it was your cousin.

Prole1: Well it was supposed to be. Today I spent all afternoon drawing a rugby ball.

Me: Right…I imagine that was easier than drawing your cousin?

Prole1: It took a lot of shading.

Me: Yes, I imagine it did.

Prole1: I drew the outline, then I put in the groovy lines and started shading…

Me: Groovy Lines.

Prole1: Lines. Grooves. On the ball.

Me: The seams? Where it’s stitched together?

Prole1: Yes and then I…

There follows a long description of the Artistic process. I know enough from work to encourage this without necessarily engaging with it. The mind of an Artist can be a murky place.

Prole1:….and finally after I had done the green it was finished.

Me: Right. Good. Excellent. And everyone in the class was shading rugby balls?

Proel1: I don’t know what everybody else did this afternoon I was thinking too much. I just looked up at the end of the day and I was the only one still doing it.

Me: Shading your rugby ball? Is that why you were late?

Prole1: NOooo….I did such good shading I got a golden ticket, well for that and knowing glass is made of silica. The teacher could not find the tickets so I showed them where they are kept. There were no more gold ones so they gave me a purple one.

Me: Of course, and that is why you are late?

Prole1: No, I had to take it to the office and then I came back and it was the end of school.

Me: Right…?

Prole1: Then we packed up and I got my coat and bag.

Me: Ok..and you were late…why were you late?

Prole1: Well I had to go and say thank you to all the teachers and two of them were not there so I had to go all around the school to find them and say thank you to them for teaching me today.

Me: Do you say thank you every day?

Prole1: Oh yes.

Me: Right.

Prole1: They were in the staff room putting on their coats by the time I found them.

Me: I bet they were….

I was told once that having children meant that you would never be free again because they were hostages to your emotions.

I have to admit I have learned more about myself and become a happier more rounded person since I have had children.
They have let me see the world in a new way, to question the future and the past whilst I struggle with the present.
They have shone a light into the dusty cupboards of my life and I have become a new person with them.

Still there are things about having kids that knock me back, that make me tread carefully, that have really made me unsure about how the wold perceives me.

I blame the glitter.

Ever since Prole1 went to his first ‘art’ workshop aged 9 months I have been plagued by uncertainty.
Do I have a tiny bit of glitter stuck to my face?

The ‘tiny bit of glitter stuck to your face’ is the STD of the children’s ‘art’ workshop.
You don’t know you have it and for the most part it goes unnoticed but it singles you out in social situations and it is impossible to get rid of.

I always have a tiny bit of glitter stuck to my face. Just because I can’t see it does not mean it is not there.

All through Christmas I would catch myself in the mirror, a tiny flash on the forehead and it was gone.
I would then have to rock backwards and forwards until the light flashed again. Then it was gone.
I spent ages rocking backwards and forwards.
Surely life is too short.

Can you really pay attention to what someone is saying if they have a tiny bit of glitter stuck to their face?
I can’t.

In the early days I did not mind it so much.
In the early days though I would go out covered in glitter, pesto, baby sick and bits of breakfast cereal and frankly could not care less as I joined the ranks of other parents and we would nod hollow eyed at each other as we shared an understanding that eighteen months before we may all have been bright young things, flashing ultraviolet smiles as the DJ worked the ones and twos but now we just wanted some sleep.
And a tidy front room.
And for someone, anyone to come and clean the toilet because THERE IS NOT ENOUGH TIME IN THE WORLD.

Later as things levelled out, people in my house started sleeping for longer than three hours at a time and a tiny modicum of control came back into my life.
I liked it.
Sleep had a system, laundry had a system, food provision had a system, personal hygiene had a system. Sort of.

What I had no system for, what no one warned me about, what has devastated my life and house was the wall of cardboard tubes covered in bottle tops, crepe paper, sugar paper, newspaper, tissue paper screwed into balls and stuck to old bottles, painted boxes, drawings in chalk, crayon, felt tip, pencil and poster paint of all colours daubed everywhere. Sandwich boxes, take away tubs, cardboard boxes of all shapes, sizes and origin turned into cars, robots, binoculars, planes, submarines, worms, diggers, houses, castles, in fact anything the fevered minds of the Proles could come up with.
Paper plates, does anyone actually use a paper plate for eating off? The ones I see have pasta PVA’d to them and splurged with paint.

And glitter, glitter, glitter.
It is a common ‘art’ technique to paste glue all over an object and then pour glitter all over it.
You can shake the excess off if you like but the Proles like to keep things loose.
And glittery.

The phrase that keeps coming up is that it is ‘recycling’ and creating art.
It is not recycling, it is going through the bins and dragging out all the crap you can find and getting small children to Pritt stick it all together and then sending it back to my house in a form that is almost IMPOSSIBLE to recycle. Wrapped in sellotape and glued up.
There is not enough room in my house far all this stuff. At one point the Proles were averaging 14 pieces of ‘art’ each week.
At that rate we could be absorbing 728 pieces of ‘art’ every year.
Into one two bedroom house.
Each of these pieces of ‘art’ has immense sentimental attachment for the Proles.
Each one is like a Picasso to them.
The nice man on Antiques road show could value this stuff at thousands and the Proles would just laugh sheepishly and say no, these things have been in the family too long, they mean too much and they won’t be selling.

I wouldn’t mind if they were any good.

I have to get rid of this stuff.

I have a line of ‘art’ quarantine bags. If the ‘artwork’ within any given bag is not requested within 12 months then it leaves the house, never to return.
It used to be 6 months but recent uncomfortable questions from the Proles have extended the timings of the system.

I need to bring it under control.

But there is no controlling the tiny bit of glitter stuck to my face.
It’s not just handling the ‘art’, just being in the same house puts me at risk.
I will never know whether I have been infected or not.

I can deal with the big stuff, the threat posed to the Proles by eye operations, illness, heart conditions, cuts, bruises and the constant threat of being run over by an idiot.

The tiny unsettling everyday things are much more worrying.

It will be years before I can step out the door without worrying that somewhere there is a tiny bit of glitter stuck to my face.