Thursday, September 4, 2008

Patricia Prime: IN THE STUDIO

From the ferry it’s a long walk uphill to my friend’s 30s villa, perched on a hillside overlooking the Hauraki Gulf.

When I reach the house Stella takes me through the central passage of the four-room cottage to a door leading to the veranda. The steep garden is terraced: on one terrace is an herb garden, another contains a vegetable garden and the third flowering shrubs and fruit trees. On the side of the property a creek takes the overflow water down to the beach.

At the back of the house, she has built a studio. I’m amazed at the disarray in the room compared to the traditional furniture in the living room and the comfort of the kitchen. “Don’t mind the mess,” exclaims Stella, “I have a good clean once a year!” The studio is a generous size with large windows overlooking treetops to the sea. But it seems stifling at first, with mounds of old newspapers, half-squeezed tubes of paint, jam jars full of brushes, books, and a deep crust of dried paint on the surfaces and floor. “I need disorder,” she laughs, “I need to remain in the same state of mind for several days in order to contemplate my painting.” Pinned to the walls are several unstretched canvases, which she works on simultaneously: a little dab of cadmium yellow here, a brushstroke of ultramarine there.

fixed easel
the sitter’s wooden chair
beside a wood stove

Stella has pinned several coloured postcards on the wall of works she admires: van Gogh’s “Sunflowers,” Braque’s “Man with a Guitar,” Cezanne’s “The Pasha.”

When it’s time to leave, Stella gives me a present: a jar of homemade quince jelly from the fruit in her garden and a postcard-sized drawing of her gardening boots—“a la van Gogh,” she smiles.

as I walk to the ferry
the pattern of clouds
in water

by Patricia Prime
Auckland, New Zealand

No comments: