the doors are closed

Yesterday the gallery was very busy. I spent a few final hours there bidding farewell to many paintings that I shall probably never see again. I also did the thing that I’d long intended, which was to study each poem from my well-thumbed reading copy of The Book of Ystwyth with its corresponding painting in front of me. Between poems there were conversations with many people. There have been some fascinating encounters with visitors over the past three months. It’s been quite difficult for me to pass un-noticed at the exhibition, try though I might, given that my face has been on view in the two films playing on loop in the gallery. Some visitors have shyly approached and others have taken a more  confident stand, breezily striding up to me to say hello. Whenever I’ve sensed that people wanted to speak but have been a little hesitant, I’ve endeavoured to make things easier for them by initiating conversations. On a few occasions I’ve been followed at a distance around the exhibition, furtively watched though not approached, an experience I found to be odd and not a little unnerving. But yesterday many of the visitors made eye contact and then spoke, which was fine with me. Then just as the hands of the clock drew close to closing time, a security guard briskly rounded a corner and approached, and for the first time over the run of the show it was a man unknown to me. “I’m afraid you’ll have to leave now sir.” he announced in a business-like way. “The doors are about to close.” Thus it was that I was evicted from the gallery in the closing minutes of my own retrospective exhibition, by a man who had no idea who I was. I didn’t mind at all, rather enjoying both the irony and the return of the anonymity that is my usual condition. Of course I went like a lamb. It seemed a fitting close.

22 thoughts on “the doors are closed

  1. What a delightful way for it to end: the poetry readings before the paintings that inspired them, and then the friendly, firm ushering out at the hands of the guard. (I like to think he later saw (will see) a picture of you, and then had (will have) his own story to tell for years to come.)

    So enjoyed Dave’s interview of you on the Woodrat podcast not too long ago, if I didn’t mention it there.

    • Thank you Peter. It was indeed a good way to finish the experience of the exhibition. The summer has been a time of forging new friendships and renewing old ones. Now it’s time to take stock of all that’s happened, but also to get back to work again. There’s been precious little painting over the past three months and that must be put right. The easel calls!

  2. Well, it’s remarkable how much I feel like I *did* see the show, Clive! That is all due to the generosity of you, Peter, and the people gathered around you. (How horrified that guard would have been, had he known! But it makes a funny story, and a good reminded of how we actually start afresh each day. On to the next thing!)

    • Beth, I’m glad we were able to conjure at least an impression the show on the Artlog. Perhaps in future this is what I could do when running late on a deadline for an exhibition. Conjure the online illusion of one! (-;

  3. Alas, I own a regret as well but with the lovely Clive Hicks-Jenkins volume, poignant essays, and your blog it stings a little less. I will look forward to seeing your work hanging one day. And if I see you I’ll be sure to introduce myself.

    I’ve really enjoyed the recent Kevin drawings – thank you for sharing your creative process, Clive.

    • It’s true Kitty, the exhibition may have closed but there is still the monograph. I’m so glad you’re enjoying reading that.

      Thank you too for your comment about the new series of drawings. There will be posts about the current one shortly.

  4. You could have used the “Do you know who I am?” line to that security guard, just to see his reaction. But your modest exit was nobler, Clive.

    The show may be over but the works still exist and light up the places wherever they hang. Now on to the next challenge!

    • The only people ever to have uttered those words to me… or something like them… have been rather repellent, and their ‘attitudes’ were certainly nothing to aspire to on this occasion. Besides, I rather enjoyed being shown the door. The most important thing it seems to me is that I know who I am.

      Yes Natalie, onto the next challenges, of which there are plenty!

  5. The ‘doors’ may be ‘closed’ but the memories will be forever ‘open’ to the hearts and minds of those able to ‘shlep’ up to your blessed corner of the kingdom.
    I’m SO happy that we could and did, (not bothering with Norwich.)
    Love as always
    B xxx xxx xxx

    • Bern, I too am glad that you, Jack and Ted made the long railway trip to Aberystwyth. (And as it turned out, the even longer one back again to London and thereafter on to Folkestone in a taxi paid for by Virgin!!!) It’s reassuring for me we have the experience of the exhibition in common, as you and I go back so far together that it would have been a strange omission had you not seen it. I treasure the lines you wrote for me while sitting so gravely in the gallery.

      The drawing The Friends Gather, inspired by your trip in 1999 to see my father as he lay dying at Velindre, will shortly be heading for the Museum of Modern Art Wales. I don’t recall explaining to you that it now belongs to them. (It was labelled ‘Private Collection’ in the exhibition, an error not by the Library staff but by Peter and me.) I’d meant to tell you when you were standing in front of it as I thought the fact would please you, but something must have distracted me.

      • Late response – Teddy ‘working’ on line, Jack working on line and me on ‘the line to Cardiff’ this Friday.
        I suppose seeing the painting again began my ‘immortality in paint’ thoughts , the touch of feelings nudging at the memory banks. To say ‘chuffed’ doesn’t really do justice to how I felt, somehow tiny and monumental all at the same time.
        Yes, us being together there was special and worth every extra minute of the journey home.
        Love as always
        B xxx xxx xxx

  6. In like a lion, out like a lamb. Congratulations again on one of the most interesting and compelling exhibitions I have had the privilege to see. And remember what my grandmother always said, “Everyone gets to start over at midnight.”

    • Anita, your grandmother was a wise woman. Tomorrow I get to ‘start over’ in a big way, with breakneck preparations for my November one-man show. Much to catch up with I fear, but you know how I like a challenge to rise to! (-;

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s