Wednesday, 14 May 2014

Painting as a form of storytelling

My home, Tierney Road, Streatham, late 1980s
I looked through a portfolio of old work just recently and found this painting of my bedsit in Streatham, south London where I lived happily for nearly eight years through most of the 1980s. It was in the attic of a Victorian house which appealed to the romantic in me, it was about 25 feet long from from front to back. It included this small kitchen and at the other end there was my bed and a small attic window. It was too cold in winter and too hot in summer.

At the time I was unhappy in whichever job I had – I felt I couldn't find my place in the world and this caused me endless anxiety. I would like to be able to tell that version of me to calm down, that I would find my place but that I would need to be patient for about another decade. I can remember feeling dissatisfied with this painting because I thought it was unfinished but all I can see now is an interesting image documenting my home. I remember working on it in the evenings after I'd got home and I used gouache paint on watercolour paper.

It tells me my interests haven't changed over the years – there are books, family photos and pictures on the wall. There is a throw over the sofa that I had forgotten about and the bag near the door has my gym clothes inside. I bought the rug under the table in Fez, Morocco when I was on holiday on a coach tour. We also travelled through Spain and Portugal which was a complete contrast to my ordinary life and also very stimulating. So far from feeling gloomy when I look at this I am reminded that I led a full and interesting life at the time and have done ever since.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Oh, Heather. My eyes were glued to this picture the moment they glimpsed it. It's gorgeous. I want a copy! And the writing that goes with it too -- from how critical the 1980s Heather was of the painting, to how appreciative the current one is, and all the detailed memories it preserves...wonderful. (Marta)