Christ Writes in the Dust: The Woman Caught in Adultery, commissioned from me for the Methodist Collection of Modern Art, was unveiled at the Barber institute in Birmingham on Tuesday. Those who had gathered for the occasion were warmly welcomed by the Director of the Barber, Dr Ann Sumner, and then John Gibbs introduced the proceedings prior to the unveiling. About twenty people were present, including John and Margaret Taylor, who funded the acquisition for the collection as a celebration of their golden wedding anniversary. After the unveiling there was an open question session during which I explained a little of the genesis of the painting, and then we had a glorious lunch in the University. It was a wonderful occasion and I greatly enjoyed it. My thanks to Dr Sumner’s P.A. Mary McCullough for arranging everything so meticulously, and particularly for organising a parking place outside the Institute so that we were able to unload the painting with ease.
We had set off at 8 am in order to be at the Barber in time for the 11 am start. Peter drove while I read the map and tried to relax. I’d completed the painting at 2.30 am and the last session at the easel was a massive seventeen hours long, after which I put it into its frame and wrapped it ready for the journey. I made it through the day perfectly well, though I’m paying for it now.
Having struck a deal with the devil, Dorian Gray kept a painting of himself hidden in the attic. The portrait steadily decayed while his person remained eternally youthful and beautiful. Of course it all ends badly! I have an opposite situation here. I make paintings into which I pour everything, while the physical body gets more shadowy and worn thin from all the effort. Seventeen hours! I tell you, it nearly killed me. I won’t be doing anything like that again in a hurry.