Clutching her little bunch of picked flowers, she struggles fearfully to prevent the 64 strands of illness combining into a noose and pulling her down before she can properly explore the strange garden she has been left in by her parents.
Mabel Broadbear died in 1896 when she was eighteen at the Mendip hospital after suffering 64 epileptic seizures during the night. She had been left at the hospital by her parents the year before and was described as “simple and mischievous” in her records.
I hope she found even a little happiness in the garden.
This painting developed into a view of the new post covid world we find ourselves in. Influenced in colour scheme and detail by the famous “Garden of Earthly Delights” by Hieronymus Bosch, it shows the new world occupied by a strange mixture of humanity and nature.
Nature has shaped us once again with consumate ease.
A response to the surreal effect the lockdown has had in the city. The virus is portrayed as a kind of jellyfish creature floating through the streets trailing its tentacles across those who are unfortunate enough to be in the street as it passes.
This vision of the corona virus was inspired by something I saw. Someone had washed a white ladies’ dress and had placed it on a coat hanger then hooked this onto a window which was opened out at a slant above the street below.
The way the thin material billowed out in the wind like a semi transparent bell reminded me of images I had seen of some jellyfish and the way it seemed to float above virtually empty streets inspired me to paint the picture.
I imagined the virus as some frightening relentless being advancing silently along the street brushing its tentacles over the unnoticing people it passes.
The people in the windows are all displaying a response to lockdown and are very pale. They are trapped in their homes. Those outside are risking themselves. Indeed the old woman with the walking stick is being touched by a very faintly depicted tentacle and now is now infectious and likely to be ill.
I am celebrating the launch of my new page dedicated to the wonderful and inspirational tenement closes in our cities! I have been investigating and studying these environments throughout my artistic life. Glasgow City Council has three of my large major works in its collection and I have produced many paintings now in private collections both here and abroad.
I am offering a service where I will accept a commission to paint a “portrait” of your own close! (just email me at firstname.lastname@example.org)
The common close in these tenements is an extraordinary place. You are neither home or outside. The lighting in some of these toplit corner closes is as awe inspiring as a Gothic cathedral and that strange mixture of public and personal space directs our eyes as we look around. Passing folk on a stairwell can be an odd experience. We are used to seeing others on the same level as us not immediately above or below us. This sometimes has the effect of causing us to avoid staring up at the person coming down or gazing down at those coming up! ”
This is reminiscent of the Hugh Mearns’ poem, “Antigonish”…
Yesterday, upon the stair,
I met a man who wasn’t there!
He wasn’t there again today,
Oh how I wish he’d go away
The painting, which contains an abundance of clues for the viewer to follow, is itself a puzzle. You are the detective and you must identify the “guilty party” using clues in Morse, semaphore, and International Shipping Flag Code, as well as straightforward logic and observation.
The intention of this picture is to help people to re-establish the skill in looking at paintings in a way which encourages reflection and awareness of meaning. This, I believe, is a way of seeing which has become atrophied in the modern world. This painting gives people a clear reason to stand in front of it and look at it.
Prints are available from the Prints page on this site.
Recently completed this painting, “The Detective”, is currently on show at The Glasgow Art Club, 185 Bath Street, Glasgow G2 4HU, till April.
It is inspired by the Golden Age of Detective fiction and contains a series of clues and visual hints which lead to the uncovering of the identity of a “guilty party” in the picture. The Golden Age is considered to have been the period during the 20’s and 30’s when writers such as Agatha Christie, Freeman Wills Crofts, Ngaio Marsh, and Edmund Crispin produced their tales of puzzling crimes and intellectual detectives.
Everything is there in the painting to allow the viewer to participate in the narrative as “the detective”. In order to properly experience this and see everything in correct resolution it is advised that the you either visit the gallery and see the painting first hand (visit the scene of the crime, so to speak), or order a hi res print from the Print Page ( I suggest A3 rather than A4) and solve the mystery in the comfort of your own home.