Hardeep Singh Kohli: Brush with an artist reveals sadness behind sale
My art dealer friend Simon was Mr Spontaneous on Tuesday evening. He invited me along to some art prize show: a gathering of 20 or so works that fitted the category described as contemporary painting. (Questions will be begged another time about whether any painting painted at this point in history can be anything other than contemporary.)
I wandered around the rooms trying hard to look like I knew stuff about art. (A useful tip to fellow art imposters: always invoke the "influence of cubism" on a piece; it's never let me down thus far. It's akin to non-football lovers mentioning the dichotomy between zonal and man-for-man marking.) Anyway, I'm looking, cogitating and appreciating an enormous canvas painted by a man called William, of whom I have no knowledge. The canvas was dominated by a hypnotically green mass of paint with a swathe of tall stemmed flowers at the bottom. There was a sense of Rothko about the expanse of colour, undeniable parallels to be drawn with Monet's Water Lilies and a sense of Paul Smith's multistripe signature design motif. I found myself losing myself in the image, enjoying everything it had to offer. An awkward, bearded bespectacled man beside me chose to fill the lull in the surrounding hubbub by asking me what I thought of the work I was surveying. Stirring myself out of a deep sense of appreciation my response was categoric – and without reference to the influence of the Cubists: "It's brilliant, isn't it."
Without so much as a beat or breath he piped up: "It's mine."
He, it transpired, was William. He was the artist. Luckily I had answered correctly (the mind boggles as to where this story might have gone had I entered a vicious diatribe of artistic assassination about his predilection for green and flora and Paul Smith).
He told me that he was there to say goodbye to the piece. It had been purchased by a hedge fund somewhere and this would be the last time he would see it. It seemed astonishing to me that an artist would devote so much time, energy and passion to a piece of work and then it be sold to an anonymous corporation, the work be whisked away, and William never know where his painting, his creation, was.
I couldn't think of another form of art that would visit the same sense of loss upon the creator. A writer will always have her words; a film maker his images. But an artist creates to sell, sells to live and lives to enable further creation. I said goodbye to William (and his painting), allowing him his final few moments with his progeny, his final few moments to offer a fond farewell.
Sporran policy maintains disunited kingdom
There are myriad reasons why England and Scotland will and can never be a truly unified single national entity. There are the legal and political; there is also the ever-changing cultural landscapes that differ so hugely. Perhaps the most telling difference, the single issue that I personally feel will maintain our national difference is that, as I travelled home to Glasgow on St George's Day, the staff at London City airport, upon examining the contents of my bag, asked me to remove my "handbag-type thing" for closer perusal. They were, of course referring to my sporran. Two nations, divided by a hand-bag-type sporran thing.
Walkout speaks louder than words
It's quite a powerful statement, a statement of obvious intent. You can argue, bicker, debate and rant but the ultimate action of walking out tops everything. This has been the week of the walkout; and it's nice to see that high-powered ambassadors and politicians at the United Nations do exactly the same thing as harangued husbands, slighted sisters and combustible creatives.
The walkout – the UN one was over Iranian comments about Israel – is essentially the most powerful tool in the arsenal of any combatant caught in the arena of verbal warfare.
I have been plenty guilty of experiencing deep fatigue with an argument. The walkout can occasionally allow you to realign your forces and battle again at a later time. Occasionally the walkout is final; in such instances the last thing the person you walk out on will see of you is your back.
I have only once in my life walked out in disgust. The focus of my ire was a joke involving a punchline that relied on the assumption that all Irishmen are stupid. (I know this not to be the case because my fellow columnist Tom English is Irish. He is very clever. And so was Oscar Wilde.) The walkout can be massively effective. But be warned: it can prove irreversible. It can also be entirely justified.
Get stuck into duck if you've had a bellyful of pork
I have a dinner to cook on Saturday night. I have finally reached saturation point with pork belly: I simply cannot keep cooking the same albeit delicious cut of pig meat. I am realising that the rest of my meat cooking skills are suffering. After much contemplation I have decided to return to the joyous flavour that is duck breast. Truth be told, duck is not the healthiest of meats to cook or eat. The unctuously fatty and flavourful skin should make it an occasional meal; I however have been known to consume the duck once or twice a week. This is not good. I have therefore explored ways of minimising the fattiness of the breast, methods of cooking that maintain maximum flavour while delivering minimum cardiac corruption. I now intend to share these thought with you.
Initially one needs to brown the breast and crisp the skin. I prick the skin all over with a fork. The breasts are then placed skin side down in an oil-free frying pan while the pan is still cold. This will let the gradual heat render out the fat and allow the skin to crisp. Once the pan is at full heat the skin will crisp up completely. No more than eight minutes thereafter in a hot oven and you will have delicious duck breasts. Pink, perfect and with minimal fat content. Quite the opposite of me then.
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Weather for Edinburgh
Wednesday 22 May 2013
Temperature: 3 C to 15 C
Wind Speed: 22 mph
Wind direction: West
Temperature: 5 C to 10 C
Wind Speed: 24 mph
Wind direction: North