In this collection of paintings I have cast aside my usual gentle view of the world, exorcised some ghosts for Halloween, and put together work which could be viewed as disturbing or sad . Each piece is based on a true story.
The pig farm Incident
It was common knowledge , that the local pig farmer really loved the pigs he kept on a few acres just out of the village. He had bred pigs for years in the old barns, across from his house. At the end of each day he would walk across the yard to check on them and give them an extra feed . Recently his big sows had given birth to a lot of piglets, who were suckling about every hour. He was pleased with his girls , they were experienced, good mothers, taking care of their youngsters, which in turn raised the farm profits.
This day as usual the farmer went out to see his pigs, but while feeding them, he accidentally trod on a little pink piglet, and it died there and then. He felt bad about it and took the lifeless body away . Then as usual he locked the sows and their young safely up for the night and walked back to the house, guided by the lights coming through the downstairs kitchen window, where the table was laid, … he was looking forward to his pork dinner .
A week went by and the farmers routine continued, but then one day, strangely, he didn’t return to the house at his usual time after feeding his sows. Well, no one worried, something unexpected must have come up , these things happen on a working farm, but as the time ticked by , an hour, then more , concern back at the house began to grow, finally his wife went out with the torch to see where he was, her boots and coat on against the rain, the search began, calling him …. now even the gravy had congealed on his roast pork.
Checking one barn, then another , calling as she went , she finally spotted something out of the corner of her eye , caught in the beam of the flash light, it was a sight she couldn’t quite believe, what was that…. a mannequin leg, and nearby… is that some false teeth,…. and , is that a hand, slowly the terrible truth dawned, to her horror she realised, that she was looking at the remaining body parts of her husband, the pig farmer, now scattered amongst the nesting animals, bedding down and softly grunting after a good day foraging .
Turns out the sow’s moment had come, when the careless farmer, who’d crushed and killed one of her pocket sized piglets under his size twelve boots had tripped with his bucket, she finally had her revenge .
The murderess, is he dead yet ?
This story begins with an old damsel in distress , and a gentleman who came to her rescue, believing her to be as honest and as well intentioned as he is. They eventually decide to make a life together. The years pass, but the health of the strong and educated gent gradually begins to fail, mentally and physically, as he is wounded and overwhelmed by her constant lies and derision. Even when the old damsel creates mischief, misery and chaos the loyal gent still tries to defend her.
After many years, his health finally wained, the damsel feigns care, while reminding him of his impending death…. should he ever raise his hopes. As he weakens, she finally takes control of his strong pills, gives him the wrong medication once, then twice, that time she gets it right .
Now, the poor old damsel is a widow living alone, claiming moral virtue, which is neither moral nor virtuous, surfing through life a martyr, spouting platitudes, running on grievances and a revised life story.
Six months later, and having been so betrayed, the soul of this gentleman appears to a family member in their living room. An unforgettable and heartbreaking sight, a writhing twisted form , in torment, he was like a living Francis Bacon figure, a soul tortured and inconsolable. The witness called out his name in horror at his suffering , saying kind and gentle words, and a prayer asking that his tortured soul might find some peace .
Now the gentleman likes to watch over his grieving widow, awaiting their inescapable reunion.
Dark family secrets unfold.
Some years ago, I came across an image in my studio I’d torn from a magazine. The little girl in the 1960’s photo was dressed as a nurse, playing a toy guitar. I hadn’t been able to get into the studio for a few weeks and I was looking through note books and journals mulling over subject matter as a starting point for new work. Looking into the photo, this little girl caught my imagination, she was earnest and sincere while she posed for the picture and entertained, …. someone, perhaps the person behind the camera.
I began work in the studio, and some weeks later, as the painting neared completion, I wondered who that girl was in the old photo, the one who had set me on this painted journey. I searched around and found the ripped page, it was an old article , written by a woman remembering her childhood. But, as I read more, she began to share her painful story .
Now grown up with a family of her own, she had recently made an horrific discovery about her big brother, he was a convicted Paedophile. On discovering this, she was inconsolable , for not knowing, not seeing, not being suspicious. An elder brother that she had always looked up to, all her life she thought she knew him, but in truth, this man was a stranger.
I witnessed in that old black and white photograph , a child who’s vile family secret has yet to come to light. A joyful little girl, caught in a time of unknowing, trusting , laughing and singing in her nurses outfit, as she sought to heal the world of its woes .
His truth uncovered, her world had forever changed colour, turned pale by all the lies and irreparable damage he had inflicted on his victims and so many others . She was left to wonder, who and what was real or true in this life.
The tale of the rare Bell’s Hinged Tortoise’s
The idea for this box painting came from an old newspaper article , and this was the story I read.
In a corner of Zimbabwe the endangered Bell’s Hinged Tortoise can be found in the wild. Conservationists are fighting to keep their numbers up, spreading the word locally, creating a breeding program and trying to save their habitats from destruction and disturbance .
At the same time, migrant workers and Chinese nationals are arriving in the area for work. Once there, some were delighted to discover that edible delicacies fit for a banquet in their own countries , in their new home were available very cheap, as fresh meat , easy to keep alive in steel drums, until the cook was ready . On discovering this, the workers even persuaded some of the locals to find this meat for them.
Cooking and eating the Bell’s Hinged Tortoise’s was very popular, especially if the creatures were dropped live into boiling water, then the flesh came away nice and easily from the shell.
Eventually, the men were caught in the act, holding and eating 40 of these endangered treasures. The culprits were fined, sentenced and sent away to contemplate the error of their ways.
Anyone want a biscuit ?
The paintings on this biscuit box came about after reading a short and earnest newspaper story in which a vet had become concerned, because of the high number of overweight pets coming into his surgery with resulting health problems , conditions like, mobility issues, joint problems, heart problems, breathing difficulties, the list went on …..
In the article he warned readers of the dangers to our pets heath, simply from over feeding if we fail to show restraint, and give in to our pets pleading eyes as we dole out their treats, give them a generous share of our dinner and generally admit defeat. Maybe subconsciously we want to make sure they will love us tomorrow ….. I dont know, I am not an expert, but I do have pets that I am a slave to. And now I cannot say that I haven’t been warned !
Have a wonderful Halloween x.