Saturday, 27 November 2010

Disturbing Images

This exhibition mularky, which has taken up so much of my time over the last month, has reminded me of how the Art world attracts so many mentally unbalanced people. Some are born into eccentricity, some acquire it over a period of years, and some have eccentricity thrust upon them.

A very strange man had turned up one day last week, and the lady who I had left manning the desk whilst I went shopping whispered to me, "He's been downstairs for at least half an hour!" I thought I had better hang around until he left, and went downstairs to check him out.

He was a disturbed looking individual, with shoes that didn't match the rest of his attire, and a large domed forehead denoting a high level of intelligence of the sort which would be hard to put to a practical use. He was skinny and weak looking, but the muscles either side of his jaw were extremely well developed from a lifetime of teeth-grinding - possibly as a result of dealing with all the electrical disturbance going on quietly within that huge brain of his. He asked me if Her Indoors was in the house, and I replied that she was not. He asked if she would be coming back later in the day, and I reluctantly said she would be, but would be very busy with a group of students, so would not have the time to talk. I became a bit more concerned as to his motives.

I went outside to give H.I. a call, and described the man. She said, "Oh, that's just 'xxxx', he's harmless', so I went back in, placated the lady behind the desk, and left again. Apparently, he spent another hour there, staring at one painting upstairs.

Before he left, he wrote in the visitor's book, "I COULD SPEND ALL DAY HERE!!!" He almost did. I think the tranquility of the paintings and gallery acted as a sort of therapy for him.

My experience of Art Schools in the 60s made me think that they were a cross between monasteries and mental hospitals. I would imagine that most monasteries are a cross between mental hospitals and art schools.

Right - back to the gallery to set up the cheese and wine party, though I don't know how many people from out of town will make it, it's been snowing quite hard.


  1. P.S. - Welcome Jules at the Diversion Project. Forgive me if I don't follow you back, but I'm a bit up to my neck in interior design blogs for the moment. If one of them dies, then you will be the first to replace them.

  2. This is gonna sound nuts Tom and forgive the pun. When in childbirth I'd feel the veil between our conscious world and the ethereal other-world fall away.

    Imagine what it is to live a life where that veil does not exist at all. Sometimes I envy people who live that life every day but most of the time I don't because it is a hard road.

    If he (or she) can walk into a gallery and see that beautiful other-world laid out on the wall, it must give them great happiness. Thank goodness to folk like Her Indoors who nurture it into existance!

  3. I'm kind of fascinated with people who are beyond society like that. In the old days he might have been diagnosed with autism (I call it artism), but he's probably been called eccentric many times in his life. You just never know. It's nice that he loved the paintings so much.

  4. I have days when I 'hear' things all around me. No, not voices in my head, but I feel like I've sort of tuned-in to some other bandwidth. It used to concern me, but now I find there can be sweet music there. It's all about communication and information from all kinds of sources isn't it?
    And yes, as sarah toa says, nice that HI (and you by association) have given this person a place to feel safe.
    Funny creatures we humans...

  5. I read that post Tom and all I could think of was, 'Aw bless him!!' especially when he wrote in the Visitors Book that he could spend all day in the gallery just looking at the paintings. I think I'd have all the time in the world for him! (Probably because it takes one to find one as they say!)
    All the best with the Cheese and Wine - hope things go as good as the opening last Saturday!

  6. God Bless you and HI...I would love to see the paintings through than mans eyes... know I've learnt that people who have those large muscles on either side of their jaws are not usually from teeth grinding but from being slapped in the face many times as children...
    God Bless him.

  7. I used to be a psychiatric nurse!
    many many moons ago... and worked in the latter days of the asylum system!!!

    I remember many hairy days chasing lunatics around the wards!

  8. I guess you would be calling the police on me, as I can (and have) looked at,and studied the paintings of the artists of the Bloomsbury Group until they turned the lights out on me. I adore the post impressionistic style they did in their early years.
    Some peoples passion is more intense than others and should be appreciated.

  9. addendum: One should never judge a painting by its frame or a person on their dress.

  10. After John spent hours chasing lunatics, they were probably all sat down to paint (as with prisoners). So maybe our mental homes (and prisons) are more like Art Colleges than we care to admit.

    I have no experience of monasteries.

  11. Well, this post seems to have hit a nerve with everyone. All of us have - at some time in our lives - experienced some degree of mental illness, and true eccentrics really do not think of themselves as such, unless they know themselves very well from an objective point of view.

  12. Wot! Dead normal, I am!
    Came to the show today and loved the kite flyer. Please photograph for all the bogging world to see and enjoy. Also loved the body in the school regulation swimsuit. Ah, those were the days!

  13. CHER! You did not introduce yourself!!! I was the old gentleman behind the desk! Now I am trying to decide which one you were. I think I have an idea... you came with a friend, no?

  14. Ah, yes, I remember now - I was suffering a blood sugar low and eating a late lunch (yesterday's Thai takeaway). Oooh - you devious Cher, you.

  15. Oops, I meant 'Blogging World'!
    You had dematerialised from behind the desk whilst I was in the gallery or I would have said hello. I came alone, and sadly I do not always get what I want.
    Sneaky Minx

  16. It must have been the 20 minutes that I nipped out to pay a bill, Cher - shame we did not meet. Oh well, we must both remain as mysterious to each other as we were before. I still think you should buy that painting, though - it would look good in your house (I know that from the painting of your house that I said I liked a few weeks ago).

  17. If you could see inside our house you would notice the lack of free wall space, they are crammed with our own work and that of friends, relatives and irresistibles, and my favourite painting of HI's is very big!

  18. Oh all right then, I'll cut the sales pitch.