I always knew they existed, but I had never acknowledged them nor did I seek them out. They arrived unexpectedly. The realisation of their presence as well as their potential was not seen at first. They cam from George Weissborts’ studio after his death. George’s studio was crammed with the objects that appeared in the paintings that he was studying and recreating. The Lay Figures were amongst these.
It was an article in the NADFAS Review in the autumn of 2014 introducing a forthcoming show at the Fitzwilliam Musuem that confirmed my interest. The exhibition, entitled Silent Partners, was curated by Jane Munro, the keeper of paintings, drawings and prints at the Fitzwilliam in Cambridge. The collection included these same strange figures that had entered my studio in the previous year.
My fascination for these Lay Figures had taken hold. Since their creation and purchase which could have possibly been as early as the mid-18th century they had lived in other artists’ studios. Whose studios? Whose paintings do they exist in? What have they witnessed? I will probably never know. To imagine that from the moment they were purchased. As a subject matter they offer a wealth of knowledge and possibilities. I feel I should honour and respect their contribution in a progression that I am a part of.
I am now producing paintings and drawings about their own inidividual identity. They are well worn, broken, moth eaten, used and forgotten. Yet once they are in costume they become actors on a stage. They have become a vehicle to explore human subject matters that I could not begin to tackle before they arrived in my own artist studio.