Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Mind Map

Mind Map (Oil on canvas, 12 x 12 in)

One of the things about having problems with my sight and distrusting my ability to see what I want to see in the world outside, is that I think it encourages me to turn inward, to look at the world of the imagination, of memory and fantasy. So you'd be forgiven for thinking that this painting is a fanciful invention, but that isn't quite the case.

In my first year at university we were given free access to the Hancock Museum which was then part of the university. That was before the Labour Government's enlightened Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, Chris Smithenabled many museums to give free admission and well before it was absorbed into Tyne & Wear's Great North Museum.

The Hancock in those days was still pretty much the way I remembered it as a child - full of dimly lit wooden galleries with rows and rows of cases full of beetles and butterflies and big glass cases with stuffed birds and ethnographic items from far off exotic places. I loved it and did a lot of drawing there as well as taking several rolls of film (I had to source very fast film to get what I wanted).

It was undergoing a makeover, however, with roaring life size dinosaurs being put in and new interactive displays to attract children who think they need modern devices to get their imaginations working.

Looking down from one of the galleries I saw two people pondering a new display which linked various collections in the museum. That's what this painting shows, the original rather poor photograph filtered through time and memory and the interested couple replaced by a man who owes his existence more to the workings of paint than to actuality.


FTL said...

I wasn't sure where you were going with this one when you posted the work in progress, but I rather like it now.

I know that many artists think their work should speak for itself, but I always find it fascinating to learn more about the genesis of a painting.


harry bell said...

I'm content with "rather like it". It's one of those pictures that had to be made and will probably stand by itself rather than being part of my main body of work.

I do tend to think my paintings should speak for themselves and am happy to let viewers put their own interpretation on them. Pat, for instance, before she'd read what I've written here, though it was a painting about me trying to make sense of what's in my head and I find that a perfectly valid interpretation.

Ian Bertram said...

Comparing the two versions I like the changes made to the figure, where you have changed the set of the shoulders and the angle of the left arm. This seems to change the engagement of the figure with the display.

harry bell said...

You're right, Ian, and I was just as uncomfortable with the set of his shoulders as he probably was.