Words on Canvas
Poet: Doris Dickson Artist: Anda Paterson The Portuguese Bus Stop
Sheila’s eyes lit up as she wandered round the RSW annual exhibition and arrived at exhibit No. 100 – ‘The Portuguese Bus Stop’. That’s got to be an Anda Paterson, she thought!
She elbowed her way nearer the picture for a better look, earning a few scowls from those standing in front of her. Of course it was an Anda Paterson! Her work was instantly recognisable, drawing the observer in, crying out for its message to be understood. If her intention was to make us think, mused Sheila, she ticked the box.
Was it Anda’s aim to raise consciousness about underprivileged, vulnerable people, wondered Sheila. To illustrate the struggles they encountered in their everyday lives? She wasn’t sure. She only knew that Anda’s paintings never failed to ‘speak’ to her.
She was aware of Anda’s interest in the the anatomy of her figures, emphasising work worn hands and wrinkly, gnarled skin. Her heads were often bowed down in despair, struggling through life, as expressed in Sheila’s own prints of Los Gitanos and Los Trabajadores.
But was there more to it than that? Despite their problems, it seemed to Sheila, many of Anda’s individuals came across as having a strong sense of belonging and togetherness. More to the point, they didn’t always look miserable, downtrodden or tragic. Sometimes they had an air of the absurd or comic – full of spirit and life. At least they appeared able to function – happy enough and accepting of their lot – regardless of the inequalities they had to face.
Which was, Sheila reflected, in direct contrast to the lonely, empty life she led herself, however financially comfortable it was. Ironically, Anda’s characters were probably a lot happier than she was. At least they had friends to talk to if only to commiserate with. She’d happily swap places with any one of them right now, if she had the option, which of course she didn’t. Because she had nobody! Here she was, wandering round this exhibition all on her own with not a single soul to talk to or share her thoughts with. Every weekend was the same, much to her regret. On the other hand… Had she learned something this afternoon? Maybe there was no such thing as the perfect life! She at least had the luxury of being able to make some lifestyle choices whereas Anda’s people had none. Maybe she should just be grateful for what she had!
She shrugged! Time to go home. She would have a glass of wine before dinner, she decided. Just the one!