Now in the latter years of my life I look at some of the pictures on the walls of the house in which I live and muse upon them.
All my phographs are concentrated in one room so they do not count. But what have we (now I ) regarded as artworks during the years of being a householder are on the walls of this home. Perhaps the longest picture possession is a reproduction. It was a reproduction of streetscape by Utrillo that I gave to my late husband when he was first given the privilege (as a then young lawyer) of moving into an office rather than a cubicle. And it was a corner office to boot! This now hangs on the wall of my very own shed which I converted to a nice room in which to house my books and other precious possessions. There is even a bed in it which is much coveted for use by teenage grandsons when they visit! It also has other memories of the past which may not be the ones I wish to see daily. I have hung a painting of my parent’s wedding, a nice painting done by my late mother in law when she joined a painting group and a garish painting of horses in the grand national which my husband bought against my will at the same racecourse after big losses at the grand national.
The shed walls also sport a Fahrenheit thermometer as a memory of the old days.
And old days come back to me when I look at some other paintings. The first memory is of a very good friend who was from Belgium. As a representative soccer player he had spent some time in the Cameroons and became enamoured of their artefacts. He was also a lover of paintings from around the world. He opened a gallery in Australia. A wonderful present he gave me is a small painting on ivory of a scene from the Kama Sutra. I chose a very tame one – just the offer of an apple. But I also think of him when I look at a charcoal drawing by a then young French artist called Ray Roux. I asked him to buy one on my behalf when he visited France because I saw a picture he and his Australian wife had in their house. I have that one in my bedroom. We hosted his friends at our house after the funeral ceremony of his wife much later. He too is no longer alive. I also have a still life he gave me after I looked after many of his special paintings when he travelled. As you can imagine, it was a pleasure not a chore.
When we moved to the home we lived in for a long time and in which we brought up our children, in Greenwich, Sydney, we bought a watercolour of Gore Cove. It proudly occupied the entrance hall of that house and still reminds me of the lovely times I experienced there.
In my front room, with the piano, are two lovely flower pictures my husband bought for his office on the advice of a partner who really knew about art. In a serendipitus way this artist hales from where I now live and is quite well known.
The further I go I see pictures we bought when overseas. One from Malaysia, two from Egypt, sketches from Florence, Magdalene College Chapel in Oxford where my eldest son conducted many a concert and two lovely watercolours of the area we lived in London for three years. The latter hold lovely memories. They were in an exhibition by a local artist and I confidentially told my 15 year old son I was buying one for Christmas for my husband. He surprised me by saying he would like to see it and pass his opinion on whether it was one his Dad would like. When Christmas Day arrived we discovered we had each had had the same idea and my son went with each of us to ensure the pictures were compatible. Whenever I look at them, hung proudly in the dining room, I remember, not only the pleasures of our time in London, but this story and that Christmas.
In the living room, in pride of place, is a lovely painting of Sydney Harbour by Judith White. It was chosen by my younger daughter and me for a brand new house we were then building. Sadly we were never able to live in it. But a story is attached to that too. When it was delivered I had a panicked call at work from my husband, who had never seen it, telling me that it had been ruined by the packers as two bits of newsprint had made their way between the glass and the painting. I had to inform him it was part of a collage effect and was an intrinsic part of the painting!
But onto more recent items. In the kitchen is a lovely piece of embroidery. Pictures of herbs embroidered by my lovely sister in law. Her husband loved it too and when she wanted to get rid of it when she moved to the Central Coast we, against her wishes, found a place for it in their home. After his death she moved to a unit in Sydney and I gratefully accepted it. Apart from being a lovely picture it holds so many memories of them both.
Moving on the watery lounge room, it also contains a picture of a Newcastle beach – one I drove past on weekdays for fourteen years on my way to work. It was a wonderful present to me on my retirement.
A few pictures that I have from my parents house fill me with great memories.
But the here and now is also fantastic! My youngest son married a lovely lady who paints and creates other works of art. Some of those are my favourites, particularly two she has done for me of birds in flight. Her beautifully decorated skull of a deceased bovine sits in conjunction with a mask my younger daughter completed in her last year of art at high school. I love her picture of The Owl and the Pussycat and my husband chose a picture she did of looking through a rear vision mirror, much as I am doing now.
There are others that give me delight and bring back memories. Some of these memories are wonderful, some are sad.
But when I don’t just dash past but pause sometimes to look more carefully, I can be very grateful for the differing experiences I have had in my life and I remember a lot of wonderful people I have known.
Perhaps I can even look forward to a bit more future on my walls.