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Hidden treasure

November 3, 2021

Every Thanksgiving weekend many of the very many artists on the island open up their studios for visits from the public. The first time I actually did some of this tour was in 2011 with my friend Morag, who’d come to visit specifically to visit studios. She was looking to add another raven painting to one purchased a few years earlier when she was here with her husband. Or perhaps one of Anita Jackel’s fabulous handbags. I was happy to drive her around, but deliberately took no money with me, as there was no way I could afford to buy any art.

Morag didn’t buy anything in the end, but in a wood crafting studio I spotted this mirror. 

Oh, my god, so art deco! Oh, my god, I had to have it. Ted, the wood crafter, actually let me take it home with me to see how it would look in the spot I had in mind. I left with the mirror and a promise that I would either bring it back the next day or return with payment. I hung it above the sideboard and of course it’s absolutely perfect.

Lesson learnt. At least for a while. I ignored the studio tour for a couple of years. Then I made the mistake of going to “tour central”, a gallery displaying works by various artists. That’s when I spotted this.

Difficult to get a decent photo, what with all the reflection, but this is an amazing shot of an arbutus tree in the foreground, the lighthouse in the background and a streak of lightning in between. It was the perfect image to sum up the island and I wanted it. But $200? Oh, no, no, no. Forced myself to leave the gallery, went to do my Saturday shopping, went home, but I couldn’t stop thinking about it. Got in the car, drove back to the gallery, walked up to the photo to make sure there wasn’t a little red dot beside it, then pulled out my chequebook. I couldn’t take it with me there and then, as it had to remain in the gallery until the tour weekend was over. As it happened, I knew the photographer, so when I got back home I sent him an email to tell him I was the buyer.

A couple of weeks later, I went to a panto rehearsal. (This part has nothing to do with the studio tour.) The place where we rehearse always has works on the walls by local artists and over the weekend since out last rehearsal the display had been changed and now featured photography. There was another one by Bill, this one a seaside cottage with a rainbow. Bugger. I loved that photograph, too, but there was absolutely no way I could cough up another $200. Went home after the rehearsal and sent him an email, complaining. He got back to me and said I could have it for $100, but I had to walk into the rehearsal space and just take it off the wall to see what people said. Oddly enough, no one said anything, although I was the director, so perhaps they were afraid to challenge me. 

For a while both photographs hung in the guest bathroom. They looked great there, but there was one obvious drawback: I only ever went in there to do laundry, so hardly ever saw them. They needed to move upstairs.

Much better.

The following year I only went to one stop on the studio tour. Tennessee-born singer/song writer and photographer Victor had, the year before, brought the house down with his barn burning performance as Reverend Brown in the production of Inherit the Wind, which I’d directed. Of course I had to go to show support. What he was selling was a series of small black and white photographs, some urban, some rural. 

This one really caught my eye.

Victor described it as a study of threes: Three prongs in the pitchfork, three of the security guard’s fingers pointing down and I don’t remember what else. (Maybe three people?) Anyway, I loved it and, of course, I bought it. It was only $85 and Victor threw in one of his CDs. 

It hangs in the kitchen above a framed flyer for Inherit the Wind. 

Tragically, Victor is no longer with us, so I suppose this bit of wall is my shrine to him. If there were actually a heaven, he’d be there – and he’d be raising hell.

Completely avoided the studio tour for a while, then a couple of years ago ventured forth solely to show support for Ray, who was playing the lead, under my direction, in Ali Baba. He had a wide variety of subjects – some landscapes, some portraits. There was one painting in particular I loved called “One Crow Waiting”, but I had no money and for once managed to bid it farewell.

When Ray arrived at the next rehearsal, I asked him who bought the crow painting. Surprisingly no one had. Well, obviously it was meant to be, wasn’t it? So, of course, I said I’d buy it.

No studio tour last year. Raging pandemic, don’t you know. 

It was back on this year with masks and vaccination requirements at most studios. That was irrelevant. Between the windows and the bookcases, I have no room left for new art, so no point whatsoever in going anywhere. 

Well, I was going to visit Hilary’s studio. Hilary (wife of Tom and illustrator of Cedar Island Dreams and the other two books in the series) is a very fine artist – in both meanings of the word. Her art is also far too rich for my blood. But she does produce calendars. 

Twelve examples of her art for $25! Who could say no?

On my way home I decided to stop at Tour Central. It’s good to be seen to be supportive, isn’t it? No fear I’d be tempted by any of the sample works by any of the artists, because, as I said, no wall space left. Famous last words.

Ha, ha. I fell for this mixed media piece by an artist I actually know. And I could just about afford it. But where the hell could I put it? Well, there was one spot. On the other side of this bookcase.

No, the floor isn’t slanted. I just don’t seem to be able to hold the camera straight. (God, I miss the photo programme on my old PC that let you adjust angles by degrees. Stupid Mac.)

My latest acquisition has become my secret treasure, because the only place in the house where you can see it is from the bed.

It’s been a long time since I’ve shared the bed with anyone and I hae ma doots I ever will again, so this piece of art is mine, all mine.

From → Blog

One Comment
  1. caseyparry permalink

    Lovely pics–all of them. I do envy you the raven tho’.

    When we did our January pandemic flit to our new home, I was hoping that we’d have space to put up more pictures: any wall-space in the 2-bed terrace was bookcased (it’s a verb, right?!). What with the beams and the sloping walls, ther’s less useable wall. I have pictures in my office at floor level leaning against what spare bits of wall ther are.

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