Art on a Wall



My first one person show happened when I was four. Or so my mother delights in telling me. I had been the third child, and after two boys my mother took some time to adjust to what she thought I should want or need. Female appropriate toys were obtained and my mother sat back to watch me play with them. I didn't oblige. This was to be the first time that we succeeded in baffling each other, fortunately for both of us it would not be the last.

She then got me wax crayons. These were a hit. They were large, bright and sturdy. I happily sat down to hours of drawing for me and hours of peace for my mother. Peace, that is until I ran out of paper and found the newly painted sitting room wall. It was cream and large.....

Exit out heroine, stage left for a few hours of happy drawing....

Enter my mother and the committee meeting of the local VLV (similar to WI here in England). She was chair that year and they were deep in the organisation of their yearly regional competitions. She had gotten everything ready in the sitting room ahead of the meeting and was busy first getting herself ready and then decorating the cake. Around 10h30 the ladies started arriving and moving into our dining room for the meeting. An hour later it was time for tea, to be served as you guessed in the sitting room.

My mother, having asked her best friend to escort the ladies into the sitting room was the last to arrive - with the tea tray in her hands. To find all of her friends and acquaintances observing art in action, the artist meantime was thoroughly enjoying the attention of the ladies, most of whom I knew very well. My star and moon sign is Leo, so performing comes naturally.

It was one of the few occasions in my childhood that I managed to strike my mother speechless. My grandmother, visiting for her yearly one month stay was summoned to escort me, with a serving of cake to a different region of the house. The committee meeting went on as if nothing had happened.

Later that day Nemesis arrived, as usual, at the same time as my father (poor man) arrived home from work. The artist and accused criminal was marched back to the sitting room where the prosecutor presented the judge and jury with the evidence of the crime. My father stood for two very long minutes looking at my work. My mother asked if to say something. He looked at her and she must have realised at that point that if he spoke he would have laughed as I was told firmly to go to my room at that point.

What I learnt from this:

1) Chose your audience well. Not all who see your work will understand it. That is their problem not yours.

2) Be thankful and ready for a great teacher when they come across your path. My father there after sacrificed many days of his scarce free time to teach me my craft.

3)Learn to clean up your own messes. My mother taught me over the next few weeks why crayons and walls should not meet. We cleaned one brick together every day. And I was not allowed to attend a birthday party of a friend - my first experience of being grounded for expressing myself too freely.




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