The Way We Lied

And that led on to working with adults, which is really something I’d never thought about doing, but which I now really enjoy. It all came about when the Afternoon WI asked me to talk to them about my work at the school and I went along with some of my own pictures as well as work done by the children. They started asking me if I could also teach adults to paint and we arranged to have a little session now and then and a competition as well, because of course the WI do love to have their weekly competitions!
Then one thing led to another and one of the members said that the Manor Care Home had a vacancy for an art therapist and why didn’t I apply? I said that I wasn’t a trained therapist and she said that didn’t matter, they just wanted someone who could talk to the inmates and be encouraging and that from the way she had seen me working with the WI members, she thought I would be an ideal candidate.
So I got in touch with the home and found it really rewarding. To see elderly people who might otherwise have been sitting staring at a television all day enjoying being creative, was really lovely. We did lots of fun things, like taking it in turns to be models – fully dressed, I’m happy to say – and drawing outdoors when the weather was fine. Some of the more physically able ones were also keen to visit exhibitions, so we had some interesting excursions as well.
But much as I loved it, none of this was actually helping me with my own work, although I sold bits from time to time and the New End Gallery run by the local Arts Guild, which I belong to, always had a few of my pieces up for sale. I also did a sort of travelling art show two years running in the summer, when guild members had open days at home. That was quite good fun, as it meant you could each show much more work than the gallery could take at any one time, but to be honest it was an awful bind. Not only did I have to work out how to manage the children, as it was held during term time, but in the end I don’t think I actually sold any more than I did normally. Most of my paintings sell to friends and it was mainly friends who came to the show in the end, so it probably wasn’t worth all the effort.
No, what I really need is a major change of direction. And I think now that Richard is going off to university and Emily is settled at her sixth form college, I might have the chance to experiment with some new work. Simon keeps saying he can’t see why I’m bothered as my flower paintings sell quite regularly. Well that’s true, but I’m beginning to wonder if that’s all I’ll ever do and if I don’t try to change soon, I’ll never have a chance to find out.
So a group of nine of us in the Guild are thinking of making ourselves into a collective and giving ourselves a task. It will be a bit like the modules we all did in art college when the tutors would tell us that the next project would be ‘Time and Space’ or ‘Motion’ and everyone would have to decide how to interpret that. I could never really grasp why we had to all work to the same theme though and still churned out the same old paintings every single time! A bunch of flowers in a large room for time and space and petals blowing in the wind for motion!
Anyway, we’ve been talking about setting up this project and Nicky, who is the unelected leader of the group – she also works at the gallery part time – said she knew this really famous artist called Mary Reid who had come to live in the area. She said that years ago they had been at the same art college together and although they hadn’t exactly been best friends, she thought she could contact this woman and ask her to come and talk to us. She said she couldn’t guarantee it, but that it was worth a try.
We all thought that was a brilliant idea as it would be so wonderful to hear how someone who is really successful comes up with new ideas. I didn’t like to admit that I knew hardly anything about this woman. I have heard a bit about her work of course, but then I don’t really look at sculpture, especially modern stuff. And when I go out with the residents from the home or with the children we mainly go the old established galleries which put on the big block-buster shows.

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