Saturday, 4 September 2010

Mavis makes her first appearance

I was very excited to discover -- from an item on the Today programme this week -- that there is a name for my usual, maddening state of mind: cognitive polyphasia.This is the capacity to hold conflicting views about a given subject at any one time. This sums up my whole life as I never seem to see things in black and white, but always in many lovely shades of grey, or perhaps in a Bridget Riley sort of op-art frazzle of black and white, black and white, black and white.
     My friend at work and I refer to this tendency as Mavis, as in, 'Oh, you're having a Mavis moment', when I am being particularly self-contradictory. It would be very irritating for my colleague if we didn't laugh about it and invoke mimsy Mavis. Imagine the nightmare of working with someone who prefers one option one minute and then plumps for the other seconds later, having given perfectly cogent reasons why the first choice was the best. Usually I don't have any memory of the reason why the previous option seemed the best -- now the other possibility is obviously superior. And of course there can be many enervating switches back and forth.
'Myself with a ball on a stick' (acrylic on canvas)
     Mavis got her name when I had a couple of paintings accepted in a local Art Club's open exhibition last autumn. It was quite thrilling to arrive on the opening night and look for my work amongst the still lives and ceramic eggboxes. There they were, crammed up against an embroidery frog and a nude that suggested the artist might need some psychiatric treatment soon.
'Clown Woman' (acrylic on canvas)
     When I got up close to the pictures I saw that both had been given labels naming me as 'Mavis Housham'. The disappointment was intense for a moment, especially as I had foolishly allowed myself to imagine that I might win a prize, such was my hubris. Of course I didn't win anything; I expect my painting of the poor old lady in her clown costume disturbed everybody far too much. Anyway, Mavis was born that night.

1 comment:

Kitsch and Curious said...

That end bit made me laugh out loud.
Love the paintings!