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Storage, Back Catalogues and Saints

I spent most of last Friday sorting through the storage space where I keep a lot of my artwork. I’m on an economy drive and need to downsize my storage costs for the New Year. Start as you mean to go on and all that.

It sure was an interesting day. It seems I’ve kept EVERYTHING. There are paintings and drawings right back from my days as an art student into teenage stuff I did at home at that time. I’m really glad I had the foresight to hang on to a lot of it. It’s been a trip down memory lane, and an unexpected re-evaluation the things I’ve made over the years. Some of the works were things that I’d almost forgotten about, but I was also pleasantly surprised by how good almost all of it is.

One piece that got my attention was the one in the photo above. It’s pretty huge – about 2 metres tall (I didn’t have my tape measure with me). It’s called “NOT St. Jerome” – a dreadful title. Something to do vague notions of me trying to create more positive images of good people engaged with life, as a kick against plaster saints in ivory towers. Or something.

The image is from a photo I took of someone who I was working with at the time. A really lovely guy called Sammy – someone who deserved to be known as a saint. It’s got no details of his face, but anyone familiar with him would recognise his silhouette in an instant. It pulled me up a bit, I have to admit. I hadn’t seen Sammy for years, but the news came through on Facebook through mutual friends that he passed away last year. It was quite a shock. He wasn’t much older than me, and had gone into a diabetic coma.

I thought about donating the piece to his family as I was tidying. I have no idea where they live, never met them before, much less have any idea whether their place is big enough for them to have the painting on a wall, or even if it would be appropriate.

The piece once had pride of place in a major show I had at the Custard Factory in Birmingham back in 2001 (I think). I may blog more about this show one day. It was an audacious attempt at a solo show, filling the space entirely with my work and mine alone. No small feat, if you know the space.

I remember one guy stood in front of this piece for a good 20 minutes, looking the work up and down, yammering away on his mobile phone – I misread the signs and missed an opportunity. I really thought he was going to buy it, but he didn’t in the end. In these situations, we tell ourselves that maybe the sale wasn’t meant to be for a reason.

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The Art of the Saints (ongoing)

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