For the last few weeks on a Sunday, I have been exploring the collection of 10 paintings I created during my convalescence from an accident between 2008-2010. True, the subject matter is not easy to write about, nor, possibly, easy to read, but I hope you will agree that these paintings are amongst the most worthy of my works for further exploration and examination. They are, after all, a representation of a potent threshold in my life. When I underwent not just physical change but mentally was forced to mature and re-evaluate life in a way I have never before considered necessary.
In today’s Sunday Supplement, I am featuring two of my accident paintings which almost formed a sub-category of their own. Both were painted, unlike the other 8, when I was convalescing in Spain, both have Spanish titles, both are painted with acrylic paints, rather than oil, and the result of the colours used makes them, in my opinion, a bit more “pop art” in finish.
Desayuno del Norte
In the first of the two, Desayuno del Norte (“Breakfast of the North”), I cross-referenced a Lowry-inspired Northern industrial landscape with symbols of breakfast “desayuno”, while mixing in images direct from the legal world to which, at the point of painting this work, I had prematurely returned. Of all my accident paintings, this is perhaps the hardest to explain. It was a mood, a time experienced – a collection of various representations which at that time drove me to paint. In the purple-grey background, a sense of my depression and frustration at that time is shown, a time which is appropriately catalogued as Christmas by the holly on a jug of sticky dark gravy which pervades the piece. The industrial landscape is proliferated with an abundance of mauve smoke, while from one of the bigger chimneys in the foreground, the question “why me?” looms large.
While in the accident paintings before this one, I had painted feet, here, I paint a trainer – the specially fitted trainers which were integral to enabling me to travel into work and get around each day, along with the crutch, whose presence cuts across the canvas on the right. Meanwhile, in referencing breakfast throughout the painting, the eggs mark a note of the fragility of my recovery, the blood-like jelly pouring from the trainer suggests my continuing pain, the orange represents my location at the time of painting – Marbella in Southern Spain – and the Marmite gives a clue as to my fading appetite and loss of weight – it was the only thing I could often bring myself to eat, spread on the toast hovering somewhere below it. Meanwhile, running throughout the painting are the double yellow lines of road markings – these representing prohibition and interdiction – a cessation of my liberty, both physically and in my profession in the overtly constrictive legal world of London’s Bar.
La Marcha de los Champiñones
Road traffic symbols are continued in the second painting of this series, La Marcha de los Champiñones (“The March of the Mushrooms”), which represents two major events of my continuing convalescence a year after the original accident – first the fact that my leg became wracked with infection, and secondly that I was required to have my leg re-broken, in order to correct a fixed flexion deformity which had occurred during the healing process (in other words, the leg had healed at a fixed angle, and was unable to lie straight). In this work, I show my leg being re-broken, cut here into slices, each slice revealing, by way of the mushroom-symbol, the spread of infection throughout the limb. Meanwhile, on the outside, huge mushrooms loom over the slightly surreal scene, as the spread of infection becomes worse.
The road traffic symbols in the meantime become more prevalent in this piece. The leg is cordoned off behind road-works ribbon and a road-works warning sign, while the tools and paraphernalia of the workman are all around, including the various pins which were, in reality, holding my leg together (as shown by “windows” allowing the viewer to peer into my metal-ridden leg). A sign diverts pedestrians past the works, but also reminds viewers that throughout my convalescence, one of the worst experiences encountered was the continuous stares of pedestrians on the street, forever gawping at my leg encased in its pins and illizarov frame and covered with dressings and scars.
Meanwhile, the egg which was solid in Desayuno del Norte, has now cracked. The fragility of my steady recovery had given way, and I was back to square one.
© Nicholas de Lacy-Brown and The Daily Norm, 2001-2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of the material, whether written work, photography or artwork, included within The Daily Norm without express and written permission from The Daily Norm’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Nicholas de Lacy-Brown and The Daily Norm with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.
- Sunday Supplement: Moules-Frites (daily-norm.com)
- Sunday Supplement: Dicing with Death (La Pieta) (daily-norm.com)
- Sunday Supplement: Bricks and Stones May Break My Bones (normsonline.wordpress.com)