Posts Tagged ‘the gallery of vanished husbands’

David Hockney; Lucian Freud

David Hockney; Lucian Freud by David Dawson, 2003 © David Dawson Search for this portrait on the Portrait Explorer in the Digital Space, NPG P1001.

David Hockney; Lucian Freud by David Dawson, 2003 © David Dawson
Search for this portrait on the Portrait Explorer in the Digital Space, NPG P1001.

I particularly like this photograph of the two iconic painters.  We see Lucian Freud’s unkempt studio – paint-dashed floor and walls and we are coming in at the end of the story. Presumably Freud has spent months capturing Hockney. In the photograph Hockney plays the role of muse, while Freud lingers in the doorway clutching his brushes, his overalls – like chef’s whites – dabbed in yet more paint. Freud is in motion, while Hockney gazes out at us. Most of all, I like the double image of Hockney: the real man beside his portrait. Yet, there is another frame: that of the photograph itself. So, really this photograph is a Russian doll series of nested portraits, one inside the other, and it tells a multitude of stories. There is something deliciously novelistic about that.

My novel is structured like a gallery catalogue, each chapter containing a different portrait of Juliet but it’s not simply the painting of Juliet that tells the story, it’s also the process of painting and how it reveals the relationship between the artist and sitter. That’s what I particularly admire about all these portraits – we’re allowed to peek into the artistic process: they are paintings about what it’s really like to be painted.

My gallery of husbands has vanished

Not Mr S. He’s still very much here. Rather I’m at that strange moment when the novel is ceasing to be mine and ownership is transferring to readers. During the writing process Juliet Montague, Leonard, Freida, Mr and Mrs Greene, Charlie et al were mine alone. It’s an intimate and precious time but I don’t write just for myself, nerve-wracking as it is, I want my stories to be read and that means the book must be handed over to readers. At that moment, the characters aren’t mine any more, they exist in the imagination of each and every reader in hundreds and hopefully thousands of guises. There’s no longer one Juliet but a multitude. It’s exhilarating and terrifying and wonderful.

I shall sip a cold glass of something and watch the gliders and birds and the odd balloon over bulbarrow to calm myself.

balloon over Bulbarrow


You are cordially invited…



I would love it if you my lovely blog readers could come to the Official Launch of ‘The Gallery of Vanished Husbands’ on Sunday 4th August at the Art Stable in Child Okeford, Dorset (details are on the invitation below).

The new novel is structured like a gallery catalogue. It tells the story of an unusual woman’s journey through life, each stage hinged on a portrait. So to tie in with the theme my friend Kelly Ross thought it would be fun to hold the book launch at her wonderful bijoux gallery, The Art Stable, alongside with a special exhibition of portraits of women at every time of life.

The remarkable Henrietta Young is painting a new portrait of her daughter Clementine especially for the show. Her first portrait of Clemmie was painted in 1986 when she was only ten and won a prize at the National Portrait Gallery (Clemmie is the little girl in red on the invitation below). Henrietta painted another when her daughter was 27 and recovering from a serious illness while the latest picture is of Clementine as a mother herself.


The day should be really fun – as well as the book launch and portrait exhibition, James’s Cheese will be holding a tasting, the Gold Hill Organic Farm shop will be open selling their home grown produce as well as serving snacks and the resident glassblowers will be giving demonstrations.


Little S will also be there keeping his grandma’s busy and hunting out mischief.