We are in the red wingback chairs, sipping coffee together. He tells me his name is Andrew but I know who he really is; we’ve been drinking from the same steaming mugs for a whole day and I just filled them a minute ago.
Cartoonists use distortion to characterize famous people – Donald Trump’s tiny hands. Norm Winters paints an image of a woman woman seated in a cafe, reading a book (Nurturing, 2022, Earl’s Court Gallery in Hamilton). The odd angle of the window behind her pulls my eye out of the frame, pushes the reader off-balance, so I can feel what she reads.
A first Nations map, drawn to describe a journey to European explorers describes experience, not distance; two sleeps here, long crossing there, rest at this place then go quickly with no stops. As with Egyptian paintings, the sacred dominates the mundane in scale.
During Lockdown I notice that without regular signposts like morning and evening rush hour, Friday night football games, lunch hour at the Highschool down the street, the distance between hours, say 6am and 11am become variable, dependent wholly on the degree of my focus. Dishes and laundry allow my mind to wander; to write, read, or draw requires a concentrated kind of presence.
Days feel long or short – or both. I make anchors for them from observed moments of Right Now: sunlight on the walls, direction of the wind. Birdsong, air in my lungs, smell of coffee, the rasp of my brush on paper. In this way 25 paintings come into being through Lockdown in Isolation, on average one every day and a half. Does this mean that my days were longer? Are the anchor moments larger in scale, like sacred places along the way? I wonder.
‘Interesting, isn’t it,’ Andrew says, ‘how hours and days can fold into each other, and also stretch, like an idea, into something miraculous, unmeasureable.’ He’s being playful. We talk about Escher, about Dali’s melting clocks, the relative speed of Kandinsky’s colour tones. He is not a fan of Picasso.
It’s fun that he respects me enough to offer his riddles in our brief, eternal visits. Birds sing outside, the cat breathes, sunlight shifts over the walls and the soft red velvet chairs.
The coffee never gets cold.