Tuesday, 31 January 2012
Charles and Camilla in the frame
I did the painting as a kind of 'homage' to Richard Hamilton and his painting 'Swingeing London 67' which shows Mick Jagger and the art dealer Robert Fraser handcuffed together in a police van as they arrived at court on drugs charges in 1967. I've always loved that picture which actually exists in six different versions and is a mixed-media piece with screenprint elements and even metal handcuffs embedded in at least one version. Whenever I see it in an exhibition, it always makes me happy.
So that's why I tackled this one. It's acrylic on canvas, about 30 x 20 inches. It was very exciting to paint. I did C & C inside their car first as they seemed to be one level of 'reality' in the picture. Then I did the weird reflected faces of the 'attackers', one of whom seems to be embedded in Charles' shoulder. Finally I did all the strange dashes of reflected light on the various windows which I really enjoyed doing.
Quite often when I'm doing a picture, thoughts occur to me about it that I hadn't had before I started but which seem to reinforce the 'interest' of the picture for me. In this case, I thought of C & C in their perfectly lit 'cage' of a car and how this could stand for the Royal Family as a whole, kind of caged by their position in society where they're both protected and curated and, of course, hugely privileged, but also restricted and frozen by protocol and history and all the ridiculous fanfare that surrounds them. Meanwhile, the rest of society is moving on, breaking up and turning nasty every so often, changing, dazzling, evanescing, but the Royals just have to keep on doing their royal thing like waxworks. I'm not a Royalist, by the way, far from it. But I was very struck by this image and the understandable fear on C & C's faces. They were very vulnerable in this situation, in spite of all their bodyguards and bullet-proofed car. The car got separated from the rest of the cavalcade, a window was broken and Camilla was poked in the ribs (no doubt as hard as possible) with some sort of stick. The 'mob' were chanting 'Off with their heads!' -- was that a wittily historical reference or kind of obvious? The two of them must have been terrified.
But beyond all of that 'meaning', I was really most interested in the intense colours in all the reflections.