Signed Limited Edition Print
DadSize: 38 × 48 cm
The person in the family that I saw the least of was my Dad. I guess this was the case in most families back in the day as practically all our dads had jobs. When we got up in the morning to go to school they had long since departed to go to whatever employment they were engaged in.
My dad had various jobs from working for British Rail in the parcel delivery dept to working for a company called Plyglass who manufactured double-glazing in the town of Irvine. Looking back, the few times that we spent together were very precious to me for the years go past too quickly. Times change, circumstances alter and before you know it you are an adult yourself with your own set of challenges to deal with.
My earliest memory of my dad was when I was a toddler, barely standing, crying that he was going fishing without me. If I close my eyes I can still see him standing there with his split cane rod and basket by his side, turning back to me to reassure me that he was coming back soon.
Memories resurface like snapshots in an old photo album, like hanging on to his hair as carried me on his shoulders back home from grannie’s house. He would pretend to loose his balance, having me believe I was going to be dropped into a neighbour’s garden. He would also perch me on the crossbar of his bike, holding on to the saddle as I held on to the handle bars thinking I was in full control even though my legs barely touched the peddles.
Times we spent fishing along the river Irvine we among the most precious. We would walk maybe two miles from our home in Springside to get to our spot next to one of the weirs that straddled the river. We had endless hopes of landing the big one instead of the countless eels and bike frames that we usually hooked. As we sat there we never said much to each other, content with each other’s company as morning turned into afternoon then too quickly into evening when the midgies would come out and eat us alive. It was then that my dad would take out his secret weapon in defence of those pesky flies in the form of a pipe.
Now I’ve never smoked and don’t intend to start. If did it would be a pipe, as the smell of that burning Virginia flake is the closest thing to heaven for me and is the one thing that I would gladly sit in the company of if someone were puffing away on his briar.
I was once sitting in the front garden of my home here in Newcastle and was working on a painting called “Feed the Birds” and in that scene there is a father holding his son in his arms feeding the swans on the Forth and Clyde Canal. When it came to the point where I was working on the figures I suddenly became aware of that smell of burning Virginia Flake which at the time was the strangest thing as dad had passed away more than a decade before. It was an experience that was toned with a host of emotions and couldn’t have come at a more appropriate time.
All too quickly time passes and the big burly man you remember as your dad turns sadly to an image of an old man struggling to breathe. His body had been ravaged by the effects of 30 years of Parkinsons Disease and latterly by prostate cancer. His death was a kind release from his suffering and for me turned into one of the most challenging times of my life.
After the two years of a complete mental and physical breakdown I emerged from it a stronger individual and was able to master my grief by means of my art. I used all the memories that had be given to me in that small family unit in that equally small village of Springside, turning what I remembered into paintings of a bygone and happier era.
So thank you Dad for all that you gave to me, whether you realised it or not, I will cherish all the memories all the days of my life. If my paintings make you the viewer feel the same way about your own personal history then it makes me doubly glad. So I raise a glass to you dad, Cheers!
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