Actually most days since Thursday morning of last week have a been a little surreal in the sense that I don’t feel quite awake and not taking everything in fully. I’d just arrived at work and got the phone call I’d been expecting for a couple of weeks but then when it came it seemed ‘out of the blue’. My mother had passed away. She’d been progressively getting weaker, becoming less interested in eating, and sleeping almost all the time. The comforting part was that she’d lived until she was a few weeks short of being 94 and died in her own bed, in her own home and in her sleep.
Since then we’ve been busy with all the necessary things like Registering a Death, informing everyone who knew her (she had a very full address book), making funeral arrangements etc. But now I’ll explain why this is titled ‘A Surreal Day’.
A couple of months ago I bought ‘A private guided tour of Southampton City Art Gallery’ at an Auction of Promises. The tour had been arranged before mother’s death to take place today. Essy wanted me to cancel it but I wanted to do it because it was something to interrupt the constant stream of jobs for the funeral etc. I’d been looking forward to the Art Gallery visit very much since as a 15 year old boy I’d often spent time after school looking at the paintings. Before today’s visit I’d been asked if there were any specific paintings I’d like to view. One immediately sprang to mind, I’d last seen it about 50 years ago, couldn’t remember who’d painted it but described it’s content to the Curator. ‘Ah, the untitled Paul Delvaux’ he immediately told me. Paul Delvaux is a surrealist. The painting’s not normally on view nowadays and is sometimes lent out, but I was fortunate in that it wasn’t being lent out at present and was in storage in the vault. I was taken to the vault and the painting was brought out for me to view! If you’re interested here’s a link to some Paul Delvoix paintings including the one which had caught my imagination 50 years ago in the vault.
The other artist whose work I wanted to see was A D Lucas (his rather eccentric father Richard Cockle Lucas, who was also an artist, had him christened Albrecht Durer. Poor soul!). A D Lucas was about the only decent painter Southampton has ever produced. In the late 60′s I almost bought an A D Lucas from a pal of mine who had an antique shop, his paintings weren’t that expensive then but I still couldn’t manage it. If only ……. Here’s a link to some of his work. One A D Lucas was on public display but I got to see the whole of the Southampton City collection.
Final highlight was viewing an L S Lowry which I hadn’t asked to see since I didn’t know they had one. An absolute cracker! Every hallmark of Lowry’s work was in it – mill chimneys, back to back terraced house, telephone poles and wires, flat caps, and of course lots and lots of “matchstalk men and matchstalk cats and dogs” [haiku url="matchstalkmen.mp3"]