Sunday, 11 May 2014

The Viewing


The gallery is full of herds. Herds of business suits. Herds of puffy skirts. Herds of art-house cool. It's all very frou-frou. I however am low key; jeans, blue jacket, Hermione Granger hair. We arrived forty minutes after the official opening by Dame someone or other, and the space is as full as a hornet's nest; humming and droning and reverberating. Cheeky so-and-so's, they're charging for the wine and prosecco, five pounds a pop. I'd assumed there'd be sparkling freebies at a private viewing, and olives on sticks; that's what you see in the movies. Oh well, I guess I could wait till the restaurant.

We head over, H and I, to where my brother's piece is stationed; hanging on a wall in front of the bar, next to the toilet entrance. Glamorous. But still, what an opportunity. My exceptionally talented brother's artwork... a portrait, graphite pencil on paper, entitled Deryugina. It looks like a photograph. I stand close, taking in the minuscule detail until it's a blur, like atoms. 'Isn't this wonderful,' says an appreciative voice behind me. Two women, both in their sixties, are smiling at the portrait, and I can't help myself, the kudos is simply too tempting, 'my brother did this,' I say, 'why don't you come and meet him?' And it just so happens that one of them is a member of The Royal Society of Portrait Painters.

My brother is busy networking, handing out and receiving business cards. H and I take a tour. More fancy clothes. Frills that are waterfalls, floral leggings, very pointed shoes, like knives. We spot a couple of dated celebrities; Michael Portillo (of all people) and Floella Benjamin (let's look through the round window), who's looking shockingly good at sixty-four. Some of the portraits I'm not so sure about. A white haired man dressed in fuchsia tracksuit stood in front of a settee, a radiator behind and paintings on a wall. 'Who paints radiators?' H asks, and she's qualified to judge, she's an exceptionally talented artist herself. There's a small self-portrait of a woman's face, and clearly there's a lack of self-esteem here; all her features are smudged away, only the outline of her face and frame of auburn hair. She looks dug-out and ghostly. Where would you hang her? In the downstairs loo?  

I think about the classical portraiture of centuries before; the pomp, the ruffles, the arm draped over a velvet-lined table, and study its modern day equivalent; pin-striped business men, self satisfied, posing in front of The City -The Gherkin - or proudly beside their red bricked country mansion. Nothings changed. The gaudy upper classes; still a seamless study in questionable ostentation. I giggle at Tony Blair's portrait, the not-so-ironic reference to Cool Britannia, of the Union Jack painted behind his head, making me think of the iconic (and cringe-making) image of that Oasis bloke with the PM.

We were all good to art, my two brothers and I, but J shone; I think his undetected dyslexia helped to hone his talent. Like a microscope in sharp focus, he kept on and on and on. He encourages Little A's creativity, always buying her felt tips and pencils and colouring books for birthdays and Christmas. He's taught her the precise skill of slinking a slinky over the top step, bellows out bedtime stories in earnest interpretations. Uncle J is very much the fun Uncle. His next big project is a portrait of the actor Robert Carlyle, you know, Begbie in Trainspotting. I really hope his time has come now, he's worked so hard for so many years; I can't help feeling proud of my youngest brother...

I have been shortlisted in the Writer Category of the Britmums Brilliance in Blogging Awards (BiBs). If you enjoy my writing, please vote for Older Mum in a Muddle; I would love to make the final six.   

56 comments:

  1. I spotted your blog name on the sidebar of Emma's blog, A Bavarian Sojourn, so decided to come over for a read. No wonder you've been nominated for a BiB: superb writing. I wish I had visited you more often. I will now.
    Hope your brother continues to be successful with his art.

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    1. *Hello*. Thank you for coming over :o)... and glad you enjoyed my post, thank you. I hope he continues to be successful too!

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  2. My goodness, is that your brother's pencil drawing?! It's incredible! What amazing talent. You must be so proud. x x

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    1. It certainly is... and it's really something else isn't it? Very pleased for him indeed. X

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  3. That is an incredible picture - like a photograph, as you say, with such finite detail captured so intuitively. He is obviously a wonderful artist and your faith in him is paying off. How proud you must be! He sounds like a lovely brother and fabulous uncle too. Well done to your lovely family xx

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    1. Isn't it just? Yes, he's very talented and like any 'struggling' artist, he's worked really hard for it. I really hope he now begins reaping some reward from all his hard work, and he's a fab Uncle too! X

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  4. I was so taken with your writing, I didn't realise the image in the post was your brother's drawing! Don't I feel foolish. The portrait is extraordinary - I keep looking at it, can't believe it's not a photograph. Just incredible.

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    1. Ha! ha! Yes... it's his drawing :o)... perhaps I should have made that more obvious - no need to feel foolish - I didn't make it that clear it was. I keep doing double takes on it too!

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  5. Gosh that drawing is amazing, it is indeed like a photograph, I hope his time has come too. Mich x

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    1. It's brilliant, just like a photograph... It would be so nice for him to do really well now. X.

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  6. Captivating writing, nothing else to say. :)
    And such a wonderful portrait, at first I thought it was a photograph.

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    1. Thank you very much.... when I first saw it, I thought it was a photograph too :o).

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  7. Gorgeous post. It sounds like it was such an interesting event - although I can't believe they were charging for drinks at a private viewing! That's bonkers. Your brother may have a gift for art, but it's more than matched by your gift for words xx

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    1. Thank you very much! Yes, I was surprised they were charging for drinks too under the circumstances.... and I was thirsty! And thank you, that's a very kind thing to say. X

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  8. OMG you mean that 'photograph' at the top of the page is actually a pencil drawing? *falls over in amazement* I'm stunned. What a talented brother you have. xx

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    1. Yes... that 'photograph' at the top is in fact a pencil drawing. He really is very talented. X

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  9. I too thought it was a photo at first glance, I had to scroll back for a closer look- A-MA-ZING! Such a talent, obvs runs in the family as your writing paints a wonderful picture too xx

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    1. That's what I thought when I first saw it... I couldn't believe it wasn't a photo. Thank you. X

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  10. I saw this yesterday as your blog post landed in my inbox and thought..."what a beautiful photograph"...little did I know that it was a pencil drawing. Honestly this is stunning and makes me itch to get the graphite out from my own dusty little drawer! What a talented brother you have.

    Your writing as always is perfection. Just beautiful.

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    1. That was my first reaction when I first saw it, I thought it was a photograph too. He is very talented isn't he? So are you a closet artist then? And thank you very much.

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  11. Wow... He is incredibly talented (as are you with your writing!).... Good luck to him! I could spend hours looking at that and trying to work out whether it's a drawing or a photograph - amazing! :) x

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    1. I hope he ends up doing really well... good luck indeed! When you look up really close at the piece - you can just about tell its pencil, but then you go cross-eyed :o). X

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  12. That isn't a photograph?
    Blimey! It's stunning!
    I can understand just how proud you must be of your brother. I'm sure he feels the same way about his exceptionally talented sister. x

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    1. Thank you very much! I couldn't believe it when I first saw his portrait, I had to double take over and over again! X

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  13. Oh my god is that the drawing??! Flippin heck it's brilliant. Wow!! Your brother has immense talent! Wow.

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    1. Yes, I'm afraid it is. It's very good isn't it?. Wow, wow, and WOW indeed.

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  14. Talent runs in your family, maybe you could get me adopted in so I can tap into the source! Begbie next? COOL.
    It's been years since I've been to a proper gallery, I mean I've been to the Southampton one but 99% of the time it's the same thing. Next time I head to London I must head to one... ooo BritMums weekend maybe? x

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    1. Says you Mrs totally talented photograph lady and all round blogging behemoth! Yes, he's drawing Begbie next - hope he's not pished! I don't go to galleries that often either, but I do like the Tate Modern when I can. X

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  15. Amazing piece of artwork and an amazing (as always) piece of writing.xx

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    1. Thank you very much lovely. It's a great portrait isn't it? X

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  16. I'm confused. You mean that image isn't a photograph?!!

    You're kidding me right?

    Fabulous writing, I felt like I was there with you, I've been to a few where they're exactly like that!

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    1. You made me laugh.... no, it isn't a photograph :o). And no, I'm not kidding I'm afraid. Thank you very much, glad you were there too!

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  17. Beautifully written; I felt as though I was there with you. What a fantastic talent your brother has, the painting is absolutely stunning.

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    1. Thank you you very much, glad you were there too. And yeah, my brother is pretty good at drawing.

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  18. Unbelievable! I also thought at first that it was a photograph, only when you look closely do you see the details. A very talented family. :) xx

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    1. Thank you very much:o).... and you are very right, when you look close-up, you can see that it is drawn - a very clever illusion. X

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  19. I cannot believe that isn't a photo at the top, what amazing talent, you must all be so proud. I love art galleries too and always look forward to visiting a new one.
    I loved this post, thanks

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    1. Hard to believe isn't it?. Yes, we are all very proud. I try to get to galleries when I can but that isn't very often. Glad you liked my post!

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  20. It's an amazing picture. It must have taken hours and hours. What a talent your brother is. I've said it before and I'll say it again...clearly the creative gene runs in your family. Wonderful writing. x

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    1. Thank you very much lovely! It is really amazing, and I think it did take him a long time to do it.... no idea how he actually does it though! X

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  21. Wow. Just WOW! That is fabulous beyond fabulous, no wonder you're proud of him - as he must be of you with your words xxx

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    1. I was totally WOWED by it too, and we are all very proud of him - just hope this pushes him further forwards now. X

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  22. That portrait is stunning! Your brother is so talented. Just like his big sis. Loved this piece. So much love in it too, for your family - your own and your siblings. Funny how your family means two different groups once you have your own children. Outrageous, charging for prosecco! "Who paints radiators?" - ha ha! x

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    1. Isn't it just? He's a very talented artist indeed, and I couldn't believe they were charging for the drinks, very very cheeky given that it was a private viewing. I think that was a first for a rendition of a radiator! X

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  23. What an amazing talent your brother has! So beautiful!

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    1. He is very gifted. It's a wonderful piece.

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  24. Wow, that is amazing. What a wonderful talent to have! I'm so glad he is being recognised.

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    1. Great isn't it? And at last, he is starting to receive some recognition for all his efforts.

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  25. that is an outrageous talent that your brother has, absolutely amazing

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    1. He really does have a super talent.

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  26. Speechless! Amazing talent. Did he go to Art school? (I'm Canadian, did he study anywhere?)

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    1. He really is very talented. He studied at Glasgow School Art - A BA in Bachelor of Fine Art, and has been living in Glasgow ever since.

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  27. I'm blown away by the portrait, it's amazing, truly amazing - really hope your brother gets the recognition he deserves. I'm sure he's incredibly proud of you too, what a talented family! Love your take on the private viewing, and agree about Floella - saw her singing at a gig a while back and she looked fabulous. How can she be 64? x

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    1. I really hope he gets the recognition too and this exhibition sends lots of commissions his way; I would love to see him become a full time artist. And Floella, it was hard to believe how youthful she looked - no wrinkles or lines, non what so ever. X

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