Sunday, 31 January 2010

Still in love with Vincent

It is a fact I try not to share, but just between you and me, I don’t attend as many exhibitions as I should. Of course I attend the private views of those I am in (shameless self promotion), and I try to attend those of people I know fairly well (mutually supportive promotion), but as for the myriad of private view invites that turn up on my door mat… Let’s just say that if it’s a choice between ‘Mixed media works based around decay and loss’ or the latest Johnny Depp movie, you will find me in the cinema. What is it about artists and ‘loss’ anyhow. What have they ‘lost’? Their paints? sanity? husband? (careless.)

However, I have been tempted, and not by Johnny, by Vincent. Just before Christmas, my Student S (who has private tuition with me as well as classes) asked me if I would like to go to the Van Gogh Exhibition at the Royal Academy. There are not many artists who I cannot resist, but Vincent is one. I have seen very little of his work in ‘real life’ and am really excited about this opportunity. My favourite paintings of his are the ‘Starry night’ paintings. There are very few artists who paint without artifice, just straight from the soul, and this is the quality his paintings have for me.

So the tickets are booked, and we are going in April, on a Sunday. ‘Of course London is on severe alert for terrorist attacks, said S’ And she is right, the ‘Alert level’ has been raised recently to its highest: “We really are very scared some nutter will blow themselves up on the tube” level.

But I cannot be afraid in London, I grew up there, and unlike my rural raised boyfriend and daughter, who feel overwhelmed and ill at ease, I just love to go back. It feels so alive. Besides it’s not as if this terror alert business is new. As a 16 year old I had a job in Oxford Street, in a big department store. I was part of the YTS scheme the government ran. They will tell you YTS stands for Youth Training Scheme, but anyone who took part knows it really meant Youngsters Tortured by Sadists. Long hours, low pay, rubbish conditions, and not a hope of a job at the end. Anyhow I digress; we regularly had hoax calls from people claiming to be from the IRA, assuring us there was a bomb in the store. ‘Will Mr B please come to customer services’ the announcement would sound, which was code to the staff to start looking for suspicious packages. Did they evacuate the store? Nope, never. Besides statistically it is more probable that I will crash my car on the way to the station than be bothered by extremists blowing themselves up. And more likely if you know how I drive. And I will take the risk, for Vincent.

As for the present, the lighthouse painting is finished… see photo!

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