English, Poetry

Art matters

Art matters

Travelling with a famous artist
is not the glamour it’s said to be
except for the gleam of the silver bubbles
that cushion the ride on the Jubilee.

‘Guess whose print I’ll bring home tonight,’
I message my lover from Waterloo.
“I don’t know the options!” He hesitates.
“Lichtenstein? Haeckel? Kiviharju?”

Thumbs up.  ‘Original.’
“Whaaaa!” I chuckle.
He just asks, “Worth?”



A picture paints a thousand words.

As a member of 26.org.uk, I couldn’t resist a project called “26 Prints” — setting the challenge of responding to a print in exactly 62 words (a sestude). Incredibly, we were allowed to take an original artwork home for a month — to hang it in our favourite spot and look at it every day. All leading up to a public exhibition at Eames Fine Art in London, complete with exhibition catalogue.

In late January 2017, I joined 25 other writers for the Prints Pairing Night. 26 numbered original prints were scattered around the studio, each covered with black paper. Each of us picked a number from a bowler hat with their one free hand (holding a generously sized glass of wine in the other). The range was simply incredible: amazingly beautiful prints by contemporary artists, some of whom had joined us in the room. Sophie Layton being my favourite — but I also loved Malcom Franklin‘s abstract works, Michael Barratt‘s mysterious whimsy and the incredible detail in Austin Cole‘s etching of St Paul’s and Shard.

I’ve been a Warhol fan all my life — I love the aesthetic, the philosophy and the wildness of the Studio, and I spent my teenage pocket money on obscure mis-pressings of Velvet Underground albums (Phil Collins behind a banana cover, anyone?). So I was over the moon when I randomly picked his Dollar Red.

26 Prints is on until 16 April. See it at the Eames Gallery, 58 Bermondsey Street, London, SE1 3UD.