Forty years later…..
Just after Christmas on 27th December I received a contact through my website from someone called Pat who asked, “I was just wondering if this was your work?” Attached to the email were two photographs of an acid etching.
To my absolute amazement, I recognised the etching as a work that I had done in 1980 whilst a Fine Art under-graduate at Sheffield Polytechnic. The reverse of the frame has my address at the time, 6 Ashgate Road, Sheffield S10 3BZ. I replied that yes, it was one of my works and enquired how on earth he had come across it. It turned out that this framed etching had been discovered in his loft. We exchanged further emails and it soon transpired that Pat’s house was in Dover. My father was born and bred in Dover and I still have many cousins living there. During the early 1980’s it was quite common for me to give work away as presents. I was a hard-up artist and I could ill-afford expensive gifts but I did have quite a collection of work. I contacted one of my cousins in Dover and asked if she knew if any of our relations had ever lived in the house where Pat now resides. To my astonishment, my cousin said that she indeed had lived at the property and that she remembers the etching. Apparently I had given it to her as a wedding gift in 1981! Following relationship breakdowns and subsequent house moves this etching was one of many items that had gone missing.
Pat offered to return the etching to its rightful owner and I was able to put him in touch with my cousin. Within a day or two Pat had delivered the etching to my cousin! So 41 years after she first received it, the etching is back with her! What a remarkable story and what a lovely guy Pat is!
The story behind the etching really needs some explanation. My mother’s interest in Jazz had introduced me to the likes of Be-bop and Swing. I decided that I should learn to play the saxophone and my under-graduate friend Jimi Hynd took me to a music shop on Oxford Road, Manchester where I intended to buy an alto saxophone so that I might become the white Charlie Parker! However, whilst trying out different saxophones, I discovered that I preferred the sound of the tenor sax and proceeded to “blow” most of my term’s grant on one! I could not afford lessons, had zero experience in playing any sort of instrument, possessed no natural talent but enjoyed trying to play along to my Coleman Hawkins and Ben Webster records. It is doubtful that my neighbours found any enjoyment from these amateurish dalliances. I produced a small painting, a self portrait playing the saxophone in my student bed-sit. The painting has not survived, at least I have no recollection of what happened to it. I also produced a small limited edition etching. I am sat in front of my dining table which in turn is in front of a large painting of a female nude. The painting was one of three works that I produced inspired by a fellow-art student who had kindly agreed to model for me. None of the three paintings have survived. I thought they were rolled up inside a thick cardboard tube and were in storage in my garage. When it came to demolishing the garage (about ten years ago), I was surprised to find the cardboard tube to be empty. Somewhere during a house-move I must have lost these three paintings. The etching lives on though! Originally it was an edition of six and I can account for four…I have two at my studio and my records indicate that another was sold in a gallery in Newcastle in recent years and we know the whereabouts of the one in Dover. So there would appear to be two more out there somewhere!