I came across this print in Terre Verte Gallery in Altarnun, Cornwall (www.richeart.co.uk), was immediately drawn to it and it got me thinking about what it is we are responding to, when our reaction to a piece of art is that visceral. Do we just recognise the talent and skill of the artist, or know where we’d put it in our houses, or is something more than that? Does it fit in with some part of our story – our history, attitude, outlook – and if so, one painting could be experienced in totally different ways, especially in the context of giving and receiving. I wrote a story about how two sisters might reflect on the same picture, and the same childhood and choose to remember things very differently. That story is called Winter Tree and I’ll be reading it at the Penzance Literature Festival on July 4th.
‘It was described in the catalogue as a drypoint intaglio print with ink - true enough - but what I saw was a perfect square of soft cloth greys pressed into thick creamy paper, the kind Mum used to waste on shopping lists and notes written with charcoal that she sellotaped to the fridge. And her letters slanted forwards too like this paean to the prevailing wind…
In the picture there were a couple of little trees on the horizon and as I chose to stay in the two dimensional – a regular accusation of yours over the years – I thought they could be children, two daughters, sheltered under feathered branches.
But you would insist on distance, exposing those trees as lone, isolated afterthoughts, skirmished by the pelting rain and forever shunted into the background.’
Winter Tree is by Faith Chevannes