In ‘Easter Emperor’ I painted a portrait of my son, wearing his winning entry for an Easter Bonnet competition. For me, his imperious gaze, coupled with his mitre-like ‘bonnet’ are reminiscent of child emperors.
The painting, ‘Idyll’ depicts children playing on a swing; a series of figures gripping on to ropes, in the process of balancing and flying through the air. In the image the children seem to merge with the landscape around them. Painted entirely in sepia ink, it is reminiscent of 18th and 19th century landscape sketches. And yet, tiny details in the image, the stripes of a trainer, the straps of a sandal, the checked shirt, remind us that these are modern children. In this painting I wanted to create a contemporary version of arcadia, in which the children as natural beings, merge with nature around them.
Stephanie Fawbert’s Tea Party is a beautifully-realised evocation of childhood ritual. What strikes the viewer is the extraordinary contrast between activity – concisely realised in neat strokes with clear instances of scoffing, gulping, unorthodox cleaning and helping-yourself – and points of serenity and calm. The bright table and its line of diners draws the eye rightward to the strangely-spectral girl at the end, sort-of at the head of the table. Is she bemused, alienated or simply not hungry? It’s as though it all disagrees with her somehow. Indeed, is she really there at all, or a memory of some other ritual, from a time when children were less-seen and less-heard? Perhaps she’s the original, dark-haired Alice in Wonderland, exiled from the Mad Hatter’s table and wandering over to this one. Alice always did take great interest in matters of eating and drinking...
Like all exciting pictures, it wants us to imagine, and we are all welcome to the party. Fondant fancy, anyone?
Michael Punter – playwright