Sunday Supplement – Metamorphosis: Pond Life in the Afternoon
Spring is in the air in the UK. In fact, ever since the spring solecist on 21 March, the sun has been beating down, and it has felt more akin to early summer than early spring. OK, it’s true, we are going to be punished with a hosepipe ban come 1 April – as they say, nothing in life is free – but in the meantime, I am happy to bask in these early symptoms of summer and, starting from today, lighter summery evenings too.
In celebration of the onset of the British Summertime, in today’s Sunday Supplement, I focus on a painting which I created in May 2008, Metamorphosis: Pond Life in the Afternoon. The name of the work, and the imagery, were both created in anticipation of a solo retrospective exhibition of my work in Belgravia, London, during which the collection of work on show hoped to demonstrate my evolution as an artist over 10 years – from more naive figurative work to deeper, more thematically sophisticated representations. Thus, in this painting, a number of features make reference to my former body of work.
At the top of the canvas, naively painted colourful trees are planted amidst simple plants, recollecting paintings such as Orange Square painted in 2002. Next come the Norms, who dominated my work in 2005 and who here are shown enjoying a summer afternoon in a pond. Around them, game symbols of dominoes and a dart board reference my 2005/6 paintings – the Joie de Vivre collection, Tragic Conflict: Sophocles’ Antigone and La Foret des Jeux, in which game symbols dominated. As we travel downwards through the canvas, the work becomes more precise, from simple trees above to more delicately painted peonies and cakes.
In the meantime there are two representations of my life at the time of painting the work – the birth of my nephew, as shown floating around in a large cup of tea, and a group of tabloid newspapers featuring stories about me – I had at this time just appeared in the popular TV show, The Apprentice.
The over all setting is English garden life on a summer’s afternoon – playful games in water, and afternoon tea complete with Victoria Sponge, pancakes, strawberries, jam tarts and fondant fancies. The title “Pond Life” also refers to the tabloid press however – since pond life in English slang, also means “scum”. And that represented my feelings for the press at the time. Meanwhile “metamorphosis” refers not only to my artistic changes, but also to the changes and growth within nature, hence the tadpoles and bees, representing fertility and rebirth in this garden of delights.
It is ironic perhaps that only days after this painting was completed, I was involved in a life-altering accident which changed my artistic style forever.
I leave you now to enjoy a hopefully sunny Sunday. See you next week.
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