Was yesterday’s life session at Redbrick as nervy and unsettled as it seemed to me, or have I been overtaken by the national mood as we slide, like so much wet fish, into this portentous week? As a group that largely, and commendably, suspends the tyranny of the mobile phone whilst we draw and paint, we were blissfully unaware that we had, at 8.34am, taken a collective step back from the throne, as little miss Cambridge elbowed her way to the front rank; and not for the food bank. Not her fault of course, but enough to confuse any sentient being.
The weekend’s big sporting event, putting aside the $300m scrap in Las Vegas, offered a more egalitarian introduction to the final days of the election race, as Day One of the Tour de Yorkshire breezed effortlessly over Wolds and Moors beneath a vast blue sky ; cheered by good-humoured groups of pensioners at each village and hamlet. The bunting was sparser and the crowds only a fraction of the previous year, but this felt like Yorkshire, and the brief escape from politics was very welcome. Whilst we were painting, Day Two, appears to have been rather more like The Grand Depart, and as I write, Day Three sees God’s own County baring it’s teeth as cold rain slicks the cobbles in Haworth and none of the peleton will be stopping for an ice cream at the top of Holme Moss. No doubt the finish will be thrilling, but it’s hard to maintain the optimism of Friday.
The race concludes in Leeds, our commercial hub and my home city. A city of which it has been difficult to be proud over recent years, but it’s solid citizens, with the help of the BBC, elevated the election hustings to a significant level at Thursday’s Question Time . This campaign has been stultified by the constant repetition of practiced evasion of a small number of policy questions, but the Leeds audience accurately articulated the nation’s dissatisfaction with the politicians’ lack of moral fibre. All three leaders were exposed , with only Miliband having the Balls to deny culpability. Unfortunately, the programme format and limited airtime would not allow the development of these searching questions and the miscreants escaped to confuse more audiences before the vote.
The truth is that this election is a lucky (or unlucky) dip, and the politicians’ mock faith in the nation’s will is about to be exposed as the nation’s utter confusion. On the basis of the tightening grid of “red lines” the only workable coalition will pair UKIP with the Monster Raving Loony Party.
Despite the stately presence of Becky , motionless on our studio throne, I found it hard to focus on a plan which would fairly reward this hard-working artist, and I “wasted” at least half of the day skipping around the painting without actually making any improvement. My eventual “top-down” reorganisation proved costly and demoralising and I was forced to offer my resignation at about 15.34pm. I noticed last evening that it had not made even the local news.
Around the studio, others exhibited their own preoccupation with the coming election; Jane, in a commendable attempt to remain even-handed, had rendered Becky’s head and shoulders in the several official party colours, and her analysis of a “muddy” area between the ears seemed appropriate. Sandra and Sue, representing the “squeezed centre” had denied themselves even a glance to right or left, whilst Chris freely admitted that he really wanted to give greater priority to the right; excellent work all round, despite the blinkers. Tom, at number 50,367,988 in the line of succession, despite having painted the Infanta’s grandfather, attempted to get Becky to look to her left, but was shouted down by the Redbrick 1922 Committee and could only express his frustration by refusing to use blue paint. Hadyn indicated a surprising leaning toward the Greens but was even more distracted by his football team’s abandoned match at Blackpool where there were more donkeys on the pitch than on the beach.
The SNP was not represented in the studio as Jerry was busy preparing his house for sale in anticipation of being given the bum’s rush by the residents of the rolling blue acres of Wharfedale when Alex Salmond marches into Westminster. The numerous scenarios are such that it will be impossible to settle again until it is all over, for now, and with that in mind, I suggest an all-night sitting next Thursday to see how the actual results affect the work?
Paintings and drawings by Chris, Dick, Haydn, Jackie, Jane, Mati, Russell, Sandra, Sue D-Y, Sue, Tom and Tony.