In our studio in the railway arches behind Hastings Station, George has his usual painting space set up by the radiator. His chair, though he rarely sits, is up against it. He has two tables arranged in an L-shape that mark off his personal space, and where his many paintings, which he works on simultaneously, are laid out among paint, ink, many small containers of water, brushes. From this place George can survey the whole room and everyone in it while he works, his back to the warm wall.
George is very musical and has particular favourite songs to listen to in the studio. He will often sing along in a beautifully loud voice, word-perfect, while he paints. His painting is musical too, his marks – sporadic and incredibly precise – seem loaded with tone.Some are tiny and bright, placed in exactly the right spot, accenting a heavy, brushy brown. He loves to watch the colours mix of their own accord. After making a mark he will pause to watch its effect unfold.He will move from one painting to another on his L-shaped table adding a small line here, a great big wandering one there that gathers colours up with it and eats them up as it travels around the paper. Then he will raise his head and ask ‘who is singing Rachel?’ (as though he doesn’t know) ‘Its David Bowie’ she’ll reply. ‘David?’ he asks. ‘Bowie’ she responds. This is a little ritual or game, George knows who is singing, Rachel knows that George knows, and George knows that Rachel knows that he knows. It is an affirmation of familiarity and comfort in a relationship and a space.
We are not able to access this space at the moment, and George will be painting in a different way at home, on his kitchen table, and it will also be beautiful. But I made him this little film of me painting to David Bowie’s song ‘Under Pressure’, a favourite, to remind him that we are still holding that space. When George’s mum showed him the film, he said ‘That’s me!’
Written by Parachute Club Artist, Maya Shapiro Steen