My Dad died in February so all this talk of Father’s Day is difficult for me. The theme for The Gallery this week is ‘Dads’ and over at Tim’s blog, Bringing up Charlie, there is a Fatherhood Festival to highlight the publication of his new book, ‘Fatherhood: The Essential Guide’. Tim understood my initial misgivings at joining in the Dads-fest but enlightened me with the information that the first ever Father’s Day was a daughter’s tribute to her father. That made me think quite hard and I realised that rather than trying to ignore the day and the sentiments surrounding it, I should embrace it and celebrate the life and love of a very special man.
My dad was diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease 18 years before he eventually succumbed to the disease. In that time he became gradually weaker with initially his legs and then his arms losing their function. As a former architect, my father obviously had drawing skills but had never really painted or sketched for pleasure since he had been a child. So he took up painting as the MND took hold of him. Watercolours, charcoal, pencil, pastels were the mediums of choice. Often painting from memory or from photographs, his talent for art gave him and the family immense pleasure. In the latter years it was a struggle for him to draw; he would have to steady his crippled right hand with his equally immobile left hand, my mum would place the drawing implement in his hand to get him started, he could only paint for a few minutes at a time before tiring.
He helped others find solace in painting. At the day centre hospice he visited each Wednesday, he ran an art class for other patients with terminal conditions, several of whom created beautiful drawings for their families to treasure only weeks before they died.
On the night my dad passed away my brother brought my mum back to her home. She stood in the hall and exclaimed, “How am I going to cope now he’s gone?”. My brother held her close and then pointed at the walls in each room “He’s not gone”, he said, “just look around you. He’s everywhere”.
I took photographs of a selection of his work: some are at my parents’ home, some here with me, all treasured. There are paintings of the quayside in Newcastle, bulb fields in Spalding, Emmanuel College, Cambridge and Mont Saint Michel, France. They should be posted below as a slideshow but let me know if you can’t see them or click on this link to see pictures separately