A portrait of Sapna Agarwal with one of her children looking at a wall full of books in the flat of a mutual friend. I know Sapna from my neighbourhood. through her activism and general presence in the west end of Glasgow - she is quite famous in a way. She home-educates her four children who are often seen clustered around her, like ducklings. I see them all the time. Sapna wears the most fabulously coloured clothes, which make her visible even from some distance. The colour really sings. Colour needs context, and these colours of Sapna’s clothes have the greys, browns, and sombre greens of Glasgow as a setting.
I was thinking of Walter Sickert’s painting Minnie Cunningham at the Old Bedford in the Tate; that floating island of red surrounded by the dingy neutrals of the music hall setting. The proportion of red to the rest of the painting is important. These amounts matter. I took part in an event at the Tate years ago that the painter Jeff Dennis organised, where I and another two invited artists talked about a work from Tate Britain that had meant something to us, and I chose this particular Sickert painting. I thought I had talked fairly eloquently about it, and approached it as a painter and mainly concentrating on its visual qualities: the composition, colour and tone relationships, how it was painted, etc…anyway I concluded my piece and the co-ordinator addressed the very large audience - “Is there any questions for Andrew?”. A man raises his hand…” Do you think Sickert was Jack the Ripper? ”