Friday, November 14, 2008

Waterhouse: Circe

On my very first and recent visit to Adelaide I had dinner with a new friend I had made on the trip. Prior to the dinner I was at a children's book illustrators and writers retreat for four days and three nights. My friend and I spent hours after the final night dinner viewing his collection of art books collected by himself and his mother. We were in complete sync in regard to our artistic interests. We discussed my love of Sir Edward Poynter's work, specifically "The Visit of the Queen of Sheba to King Solomon" which hangs in the Art Gallery of NSW (and which was my greatest inspiration for my own "Queen of Sheba" artwork), and my friend said there was another Poynter in the Art Gallery of SA that I must see on my last remaining day. He in turn discussed his love of John William Waterhouse, which is one that I shared. He also urged me to to see the Waterhouse painting of "Circe", which was housed at the same gallery.

I had seen "Circe" once before when she toured Sydney in the "Love and Death: Art in the Age of Victoria" exhibition (I believe it was in year 2000). I was astonished at that time to see that the figure in the painting was life size. Sure there were notes to the dimensions in the art books where I had seen this artwork printed before, but those were summarily ignored to focus on the tight gorgeousness of the printed artwork. Never before had I seen the artwork larger then the height of an art book. So knowing that "Circe' was there in the SA gallery I had to make a visit to view her and renew my acquaintance.

So, the organizer of the retreat and I ventured forth to view the gallery with my specific interest in seeing "Circe". On arriving at the gallery and enquiring as to her whereabouts we were told that "Circe" was in preparation for packaging as she was about to embark on a whirlwind international tour that would only end when she returned home in March 2010. Crestfallen to have missed out on seeing her, we viewed the other beautiful paintings then went to the gallery cafĂ© for lunch.

Half way through a lovely meal, my companion said to me, " Look over there, they're moving a huge painting". I glanced over my shoulder to see to my unbelieving eyes Circe en route from the art lab (where she had been prepared for her journey) to the packaging room downstairs. We rushed out and were able to see her up close as she was being carried away. I had come to see her, and she acknowledged me by making an appearance. Timing IS everything.

No comments: