"Would you like some new Pen & Inks?"
Was the question I was recently asked by the artist Anne Bachelier.
I don't think she really needed to ask as I am sure that she knew what my answer would be.
"Yes please", or perhaps "oui merci" I should have said
as her exhibition here at imagine Gallery is getting closer and closer and I had vowed to myself
that I would try and refresh my [schoolboy] memory of the French language
before meeting her.
Somehow, I don't think that is ever going to happen so when the time comes I will just try and speak English with a French accent and perhaps throw in the occasional "mange tout", "petit pois"
or even "merde' just so that she understands that I am a well travelled
and an educated man.
Anne's offer of some Ink and watercolour "drawings" for the summer was an offer I really couldn't resist.
I adore all of her art but I am not sure what it is that draws me so much to her
Pen & Ink.
Maybe it is the spontaneity,
maybe it is because of the gaps and spaces that your own imagination has to fill,
perhaps it is the attention to fine detail or maybe it is when I discover birds and creatures hidden
within the details.
I just find them very powerful and moving.
So, of course I jumped at her offer.
She then made it hard for me by offering me a choice of works.
"You can have one or all of them".
This was bad because I wanted them all [even though they will never be mine]
but I thought that would seem to be greedy,
so I pretended to ponder until I had made a final considered decision.
I left one off my list.
Lets be honest, telling an artist to "send everything that you have" doesn't sound too professional.
"They will be with you this week", she replied.
Have you noticed how sometimes a week will "fly past" and on other occasions it lasts forever?
This was one of those "forever" occasions.
Each day I would watch every courier van that stopped close to the gallery,
in the hope that it would be our new "drawings" arriving.
Of course in the end I had forgotten about things when a man walked in with a package from France.
After overcoming my initial excitement, I then left the package leaning against a wall
for perhaps an hour or so.
Because I could only enjoy the opening of it once and I wanted to savour that moment in private,
not have it interrupted with a visitor coming inside.
[After all, what do customers think this place is, a shop or something?]
Two hours passed, that was it I couldn' wait any longer.
I carefully cut the brown paper wrapping paper, putting aside the dispatch notes [for souvenir's],
inside there was a large foam package which contained the artwork,
but on one side the foam had a recess cut out that contained another smaller package.
I understand that it is wrong to wish or hope for things,
but I did.
On a previous occasion Anne had included a copy of her 'Alice in Wonderland' book.
This was a limited edition book illustrated with pictures from her solo exhibition in New York.
In fact it was two books.
When you turned the book "upside down" the cover then said "Alice Through the Looking Glass",
the two books met in the middle [if that makes sense].
So, I became excited in anticipation that she might have sent me another book.
She had, beneath the gift paper there was a book and a card.
The book is another limited edition.
13 plus 1
Edgar Allan Poe
A beautiful book produced for her last exhibition at the CFM Gallery in New York.
It is an edition of only 50 and mine is number 37.
It is not often that I am lost for words but on this occasion I certainly was.
I am a very lucky man and Anne is a very lovely lady.
You can tell by now that I am becoming very fluent at French.
Well I still have a little time to practise and if all else fails I will just drink French Wine
at the opening of her exhibition.
I have taken too long to show you the pictures of her drawings,
the reason for this is that I have found it very hard to take photographs that do justice to them,
so rather than leave it any longer I thought I would show the images
that Anne had sent me to choose from.
Of course I have omitted the one drawing that I declined for the simple reason that I am sure
it will be the one that everyone else would have chosen.
If you get a chance pop into the gallery to see them hanging on the wall, they are beautiful.
Meanwhile if there is a French speaking art lover out there
get in touch quick.