A Week in June: Part 16

Jacob knocks at the door. Angelica answers it to welcome him in.

 

Angelica:

Welcome, Jacob, come through. Take off your shoes,

You’re entering a holy house of art.

 

Jacob takes off his shoes and gazes around the studio.

 

Jacob:

It sure as hell beats a romanesque church.

 

Angelica:

I wouldn’t know, I’ve never been, except

A funeral or two. There’s not much to

See here, but my spare room is through the hall

If you ever decide to move in here.

Upstairs is where all the magic begins.

 

Jacob:

It’s quite spacious. Do you work here alone?

 

Angelica nods and shows Jacob around downstairs, moving materials and boxes around to make room.

 

Angelica:

I get all the materials myself.

I’m very much hands on. To be honest,

I can’t foresee ever working on large

Scale works which require a studio

Of assistants. I’ve got my own website,

Instagram and Twitter accounts, but I

Let the PR agency do most of

The work. As you can see, downstairs is a

Storage. It’s chaotic, just like my mind.

 

Angelica leads Jacob by the hand, up the staircase to the studio proper.

 

Jacob:

Wow, I love the medieval wood panels,

And the gilded frames are simply stunning.

 

Angelica:

I did the frames myself, but it’s to the

Original design. The house goes back

To the thirteen hundreds, but the owners

Abandoned it straight after the Black Death.

It was bordered up till last century.

 

Jacob:

And now it’s yours to keep, how magical.

 

Angelica:

All ours, my love, you’re the star on display.

Would you like some music? Some classical?

 

Jacob:

My neighbour used to play Wagner to me.

 

Angelica:

Pah! Can’t stand him. Some Brahms will do, I love

Him so. He speaks straight to the inner heart,

Without all that showy emotion crap.

 

Jacob:

I don’t know him all that well, but I heard

His Piano Trio last year. One of

His first … or last pieces, I’m not quite sure.

I cried when I heard it, I wanted to …

 

Angelica:

I’ve got it on CD, so you’re in luck!

I won’t play it until I start to draw.

I want to, I don’t know, capture the lines

Of your brow as your ear catches the notes.

 

Angelica goes into a wardrobe and brings out some old clothes, and motions Jacob to sit on the vacant chair.

 

Angelica:

Sit on this chair, and put on this coat and

Waistcoat. Your shirt goes well with them. And these

Trousers. I found them in a charity

Shop, but I think they’d be ideal in a

Painting. I’ve not used them until today.

 

Jacob puts on the clothes and sits down, as Angelica sets up her canvas, pencils and and acrylic paints.

 

Jacob:

I hope you don’t mind me saying that you’re

Not my ideal, do you? Without wanting

To break the spell …

 

Angelica:

I know, I’m full figured …

 

Jacob:

Don’t get me wrong, so were the ladies in

Rubens’ paintings. You share their radiance

And warmth, which comes out in your rosy cheeks.

I don’t believe in an ideal, that’s all.

 

Angelica:

So does that mean you fancy me … or not?

 

Jacob:

Of course I do! But it’s … intangible …

I don’t want to associate myself

With anyone who defiles their bodies.

 

Angelica:

Like that so called friend of Clara’s, you mean?

I feel the same, you know. I want to reach

The One with you, through art and not through sex.

I’m celibate. Now that I mention it,

You’ll be surprised how many there are now,

There are even networks for the silent

Minority. Maybe I’m just waiting.

It must be an awakening for me.

 

Jacob:

I’m glad I’m not alone, I thought I was

Just like some crusty old Victorian,

So I’m super happy to have met you.

Tell me, Angelica, how can you be

Spiritual but not a Christian?

 

Angelica:

I don’t believe in the Christian God,

He’s such a fraud. All the founders of faiths

Were charlatans, megalomaniacs

Or control freaks. The wise kept it all to

Themselves. I’ve felt, sensed their meaning.

 

Jacob:

I can’t say that I ever will, who knows?

 

Angelica plays the Brahms Piano Trio on the CD player, picks up her pencil and begins to draw, motioning to Jacob to stay still.

 

Angelica:

Right, stay seated, and try not to move your

Posture. I’ll just take a drawing, for the

Painting I’ll use colours so rich that few

Mortal eyes have witnessed. Kind of like a saner

Van Gogh. Move your chin up slightly.

 

Jacob does as he is told.

 

Angelica:

Perfect. You look noble. You know, as I

Draw you, I feel like I’m delicately

Floating my fingers over you, and my

Pencil is like a wand, each stroke and your

Shoulders, elbows, hands and then thighs exist.

And now your mouth. Don’t say anything yet,

Keep still, I’ve yet to give life to your lips.

 

Angelica continues to draw until all of Jacob has been brought to life.

 

Angelica:

Would you like to come take a look?

 

Jacob leaps off his chair and walks briskly behind the canvas, placing on hand on Angelica’s shoulder.

 

Jacob:

Oh, so that’s how I look.

 

Angelica:

You don’t use a mirror?

 

Jacob:

Rarely. Not in my room, just when I have

My haircut. I hate having my photo

Taken of me. In any case, what I

See then is back to front. This is how I

Look to other people. It’s a fine work.

 

Angelica:

For a first work, it’s good, but I’m not a

Lifelike artist. The colours will add an

Extra dimension to the whole portrait.

 

Jacob:

Are you looking forward to the big game?

 

Angelica:

Both my parents are Welsh, so come on Wales!

 

Jacob:

At last, one thing we don’t have in common.

 

Angelica:

Cheeky. I’m not convinced that Wales will win,

We never do well in this type of match.

We need to draw teams on to us, and not

Get bogged down in a frenetic derby.

 

Jacob:

England will win, late on perhaps, but it

Might be the only one. We were so poor

Defensively against Australia,

And over the ten men of Portugal …

 

Angelica:

One thing we can be certain of.

 

Jacob:

What’s that?

 

Angelica:

It’s the last time we play before Brexit.

 

Jacob:

You’re voting for Brexit? I’m so surprised.

 

Angelica:

No, to remain. Society, Europe

Needs to stay unified. Sadly, I think

Many voters want to come out for good.

 

Jacob:

And I’m just one of them. I walked down the

High street the other day, and I heard not

One English voice. People should integrate.

 

Angelica:

Yeah, I agree to an extent, though Brits

Abroad are hardly a prime example to set.

It works both ways.

 

Jacob:

Will it affect your sales?

 

Angelica:

No, my art is stronger than boundaries.

Pitiable, really.

 

Jacob:

What, the EU?

 

Angelica:

No, nation states. They have their own cultures,

Customs, laws, mores and industries, but there’s

Still an us versus them mentality

In some countries. Hooligans sum that up.

 

Jacob:

I know. Like the Christian faith. You have

A unified Catholic Church, but as

Soon as you have a split, there’s enmity.

 

Angelica:

Anyway, there’s logic to one Europe,

But when it comes to soccer or rugby,

Simple, I only want to beat England!

 

Jacob:

Enough of that! You’re in England, you know?

 

Angelica:

You’re in my property, which is sacred!

Can I get you a beer? Oxfordshire Gold.

 

Jacob:

OK, I’ll let you off. Cesca bought one

For me at the café … do you promise

You won’t leave me for some Casanova?

 

Angelica:

I’m yours, as long as I have hands to paint.

 

Jacob kisses and rubs her hands on his heart, and places his hands on hers. They embrace, kissing each other’s neck and cheeks.

 

Jacob:

It’s just as well I’m fond of you, I’m glad

To say, to stop betting on the horses

This afternoon is a big sacrifice.

 

Angelica: You’re still bitter?

 

Jacob nods, biting his lip.

 

Angelica:

You’ve bet on the Wales game?

 

Jacob:

Yes, I thought long and hard but I’ve gone for

An England win in in the last five minutes.

 

Angelica:

I can’t say I hope you win, but I

Hope you stick to football. I might join in.

 

Jacob:

We’ll both bash the bookies! It’s so much fun.

 

Angelica:

But not today, in case you’re right. Now, if

You don’t mind, sit back in your chair, I’d like

To start painting.

 

Jacob:

And be silent again?

 

Angelica:

No, just for a general impression.

I’ve got all the details I need. Besides.

I like to talk when I’m painting, it keeps

Me in a relaxed state of mind. Oh, by

The way, what did you think of the Brahms piece?

 

Jacob sits down. Angelica fetches her paint brushes, mixes her acrylic paint, inhales a few deep breaths and starts to paint.

 

Jacob:

It is incredibly lyrical but …

There’s an inner turmoil, I can’t explain.

 

Angelica:

It’s like he’s rewriting the passages

Of youth, guided by the passing of time,

Looking back in old age with autumnal

Melancholy. I’m no expert, but he

Had an unquiet upbringing. When you

Think he performed as a teenager in

Places of ill repute, and witnessed the

Scenes he did of sailors and prostitutes,

Treated the way he was, it’s no wonder

That his development was quite stunted,

Such was the shock. Maybe that’s why he grew

A beard, to hide behind his boyish looks.

 

Jacob:

He’s more complex than I had imagined.

 

Angelica:

It pours scorn on your Wagnerites, not one

Of them expressed what Brahms achieved,

Within the confines of classical forms.

And then there’s his endless variations,

And his reinvention of Bach and Schultz.

 

Jacob:

You know a lot. Is he your favourite?

 

Angelica:

Of his generation.

 

Jacob:

Not Tchaikovsky?

 

Angelica:

He’s too self indulgent, repetitive.

I think Mozart’s the King. He suffered much,

His downfall was tragic, but he had the

Nobility in music to endure,

To keep composing his ideal, and not to pour

His heart out to the world. His music was

Timeless, even if his time was short, he

Expressed every kind of emotion we

Experience but so rarely his own.

 

Jacob:

I love it when you talk, you’re so cultured.

 

Angelica:

You must hear the slow movement from his last

Piano Concerto. It’s so moving.

 

Jacob:

Some day, but not today, I’m too happy.

In fact, I’ve never been happy before.

I thought I was, one time, but I was wrong.

 

They smile at each other as Angelica continues to paint.

 

© 2017 AGP

 

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