Friday, August 28, 2015

The Meaning of a Rose

The dress had been patched many times, but she hoped that wouldn’t be noticed too much. At least the lace shawl was clean and white. Her bare feet only showed when the cold wind blew her skirt up, daringly high around her ankles. But the only ones out here on this long, dark pier were even colder and hungrier than she, having been far from home for so long. Here was a lonely soul walking her way now...

The girl gave him a shy smile over her shoulder, and he followed her, for a mile, it seemed, when he noticed the bare feet in this cold, along these rough streets. She paused in a doorway, eyes cast sideways, then they entered together. He spent the night tracing the strange and sinewy fish and flowers around her ribs with his fingers, ending at the rose on her thigh.

This painting was inspired by a story told to me by my mother who was told it by her father, a sailor. He was walking alongside the great Liverpool docks when a woman gave him a glance and he followed her for some time before he noticed she wasn’t wearing any shoes. This was in the days of long skirts, when the sight of a woman’s ankle was something really exciting. I have tried to conjure up that woman for just the briefest of moments in which we are all sailors in the night, along a pier somewhere in the world.

Acrylic on canvas, with cotton, silk, linen, sand and broken shells, beads and antique dress. 48 x 72"

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