Sonya Gee took this photo while the install was going on at Annabel Wallace Gallery today.
Above is a drawing I made of my grandmother at the funeral viewing. I'd never been to a viewing before and didn't know what to expect. I was surprised at how different she looked from how I'd drawn her from memory. She looked more like the grandmother that I had remembered and simultaneously, in other ways, less like her.
My grandmother always wore some kind of expression. I can remember joy, confusion, pride, very rarely anger and occasionally sadness, but I'd never seen her look so relaxed.
I'd been given permission by an aunty to draw Dorothy. I think taking a photograph would have been inappropriate in this family context. When another relative asked me how the viewing was I pulled out my tablet to show them my drawing. They immediately protested because they thought I was about to show them a series of photographs of their dead grandmother. There was a huge sense of relief when they saw that it was a drawing.
This story has no end.
There is no need to summon an icon or image of someone more than when that person has died. The portrait and death imply each other. The portrait is a vehicle for remembering those that we have known and loved, and when a person dies we remember them in images of them, first at the funeral and then forever more.
This work is the second memorial picture I have produced and it is of my Grandmother, Dorothy Printer, who passed away two days ago. The first was of Patrick Smith, a cousin of mine and a good mate. The choice to paint these images grew out of a desire to know how much I could remember of their image and to see if would be able to re-present it.
The drawings don't look like the people they depict, or at least I don't think so. They're a record of the process of me trying to remember what they looked like, draw it, and edit it to get as close as I remember. Certain features stand out, such as the hair or the jaw line. This is as close as I got.
I try to draw people but they change so quickly.