Tuesday 24 May 2011

In Recovery. Happy, Successful and Comatose

www.antoniarolls.co.uk for my website
www.jesusonthetube.co.uk for one of the best known of my images, Jesus being ignored while on a tube train
www.agracefuldeath.blogspot.com for the A Graceful Death exhibition, paintings from the end of life

In Recovery - Happy, Successful and Comatose

This weekend, the Glorious Clarissa and I sold enough Angels to make God sit up and take notice.  We sold enough Fairies to populate a Fairy Rave Up and enough earrings to make every lady who bought them a work of art herself.  The Cakes - they always sell, and goodness me we did a brisk trade in large slices of Upside Down Cake, Boiled Fruit Cake, Lemon Drizzle, Chocolate, Chocolate and Smartie, and Flapjacks.  Mrs Smith made and donated the most exquisite sparkly cup cakes to the sale, and lent us her fancy cup cake display thing.  Of course, quite rightly, these cup cakes were worshipped by everyone before they were bought, and then they worried about eating them because they were so very beautiful.  A certain part of London is now a stone heavier, which no one will notice because of the astonishing brightly coloured earrings they (or their wives) are wearing.  I am happy to say that all of you who came have enabled me to cover the costs of the next A Graceful Death exhibition in Birmingham in November.  Thank you.

So.  When I come to do a show anywhere I come with an Army.  Antonia Rolls does not arrive quietly and set up a tiny display of sensitive and meaningful items in the corner while no one is looking.  She does not say, "Don't mind me, I'll be gone soon," as she tries not to get in the way.  I come with a car stuffed with Art and cakes and so on.  Banners, cards, candles for atmosphere, flowers, picture hanging stuff, display boards and half eaten sandwiches.  I am usually staying so I have a bag with pyjamas, slippers, books, jumpers (I hate being cold).  I have hammers, nails, fishing string to hang paintings with, I have leaflets, information, prices and painting descriptions.  Sometimes I even have tables and bedding with me.  They are not linked, I don't sleep on the tables I bring. 

And then.  Then the Army.  Here is a general account of Helpers and Advisers that I am lucky to have.  Ready? - 
  • The Glorious Clarissa.  Clarissa had twice now allowed me to come into her smart and enormous Wimbledon home and turn it into a gallery.  Clarissa is smart, funny, sassy and kind.  Clarissa is an excellent business woman.  She is great at making people feel welcome, happy and good about themselves.  And she doesn't mind a house bursting with people, she takes it all in her stride and enables everyone to feel at home and part of the show.
  • Eileen, the Photographer Extraordinaire.  Eileen is consistently able to organise the exhibitions to make them really shine.  Eileen is always there for me, and despite being extremely busy as a photographer and at work, she comes and helps with total attention and dedication to detail.  Eileen is not afraid to tell me if something doesn't work, and so I trust her judgement even though I hate hearing anything that isn't fulsome praise.
  • Alan.  Alan always makes the effort to come from miles away to support in any way he can.  He will go and fetch things that I have forgotten, and he will be very strict about doing things properly.  He chats to people, tells them about the paintings, and promotes the works wonderfully.  He can count up in his head instantly which stops me from making dreadful mistakes adding up purchases.  (Two cards?  That will be £800 please.)
  • The Kids.  Subsection A - Alexia, the Daughter.  She came to help with the cakes and teas, setting them all up and using her wit and intelligence to sell everything to everyone.  Alexia can also make all the cakes but didn't this time because she is working and studying full time.  Both.  At once.  Amazing.  
  • Subsection B - Costya the Older Son. Costya is the cool style guru.  His first job is to look good and be seen from the right angle. Costya has helped in the past, and when he is in the right frame of mind, will mingle and chat with people and make me sound like God.  He can do this, but he has to be in the Zone.  Otherwise, he comes and often stays where I am staying, coming truly alive when the wine is opened and a meal on its way.  He is excellent for one-to-one chats to members of the public, and if he is not in the Zone, I dread to think what he tells them about his Mum.
  • Subsection C - Dimitri the Younger Son.  Dimitri is 14 and needs feeding so he has to be near a Food Source.  He is a lovely soul, kind and clever, interesting and good natured but at 6'3" he tends to fall over his feet.  He is also deaf in one ear and having lost his hearing aid (another will be ready on 6 June), will mishear things and the most cosmic of conversations can take place, where whoever is talking to Dimitri is not sure if he is a genius or certifiable.  Dimitri has profound business ideas where he thinks I should pile 'em high and sell 'em cheap.  Dimitri also needs to stay wherever I am staying, unless someone can have him while I am away.

Here is something to consider, on a different note.  I went to the Mary Howe Centre today for a general health screening and cancer prevention check up.  I had to have a scan of all my organs, while bursting for a wee.  It is necessary, as all of you know, to scan with a full bladder.  (The patient, not the Scanning Nurse).  Recently too, I have been training to work as a volunteer at my local hospice, which interests my Mother no end.  I phoned her after the Mary Howe Check Up today, and told her that I had had a scan with a painfully full bladder.  My Mother is hard of hearing and was stunned that I had had a scan.  Yes, I told her, we all have scans before we speak to the doctor.  What is this?  she said in confusion.  Do all of you have to have scans to work there?  And I realised she thought I was telling her about a training session at the hospice.  She thought I had to be scanned to see that my pancreas and kidneys were in the right place before I could go and make tea for the patients on the wards.  She thought that all volunteers had to have their internal organs checked before they were allowed in.  No no no Mother! I said. And I explained and she was very relieved.  I think she thought that as a visitor to the Hospice she would be expected to prove her liver was not upside down and therefore a threat to everyone inside.
To finish this account, I am terribly tired.  So is Clarissa - we were on our feet with crowds of lovely people from 10am to 9pm all weekend, with no breaks.  I packed up on Sunday night and arrived back home here at 2am.  Oh but it was worth it.  We sold loads, and chatted to everyone, and had a lovely lovely time. And at the raffle, a certain Carmel Suthons won the chocolate biscuit.  When I phoned her to tell her she said, "Crumbs."  And she thanked her parents, her team and all who knew her.  Ha ha. 

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