Friday 18 August 2017

When is a door not a door? When it's unhinged art

Victoria Mary Clarke came up with a novel way of preserving living legend Shane MacGowan's art work, while also making money for a very good cause

A friend of mine once spent 17 years in prison for a crime he didn't commit. Afterwards, he used to get homesick for his prison cell. He liked to spend long periods of time cooped up in a tiny room, in an effort to recreate it.

I think that proves that human beings prefer familiar surroundings, regardless of how grim they are. Which may go some way to explaining why moving house is regarded as one of the three most stressful things a person can do. I always like to think that because I meditate and do yoga, I am different to other people, that I am not so prone to stress. More free-spirited and flexible. Zen enough to go with the flow.

Occasionally, in order to test the power of positive thinking, I make sudden, impulsive, life-changing decisions. Last week I decided that it would be a great idea for me and Shane to move house.

Over the years that we have spent together, we have moved house at least 10 times, and it is always chaotic and terrifying. It is always my idea, and he always agrees to it with no fuss. And when the hideous reality of the decision hits me and until we settle in, I wish I had never suggested it.

Every time we move, we seem to have more stuff, and quite a lot of it never gets unpacked, it just gets moved from one place to the next. As I write this, I am surrounded by cardboard boxes of stuff that I didn't know we had, and that I feel horribly guilty about for having accumulated, and that I wish we didn't have, but can't bear to get rid of.

What confuses me is that like a lot of people, I love to buy new things and I enjoy them and I am grateful to have them, but then the enjoyment turns to shame and frustration at having to struggle to find places to put them.

The stress of moving is not just about the things you have to take with you. It is also about the things you can't take. There is always something you like about the place you are leaving, even if it's a cell, as my friend proved.

The house we are leaving is familiar and friendly, and the neighbours are nice. I am very attached to the garden, and the plants have already been traumatised enough by being on television.

The thought of waking up in a strange room and making tea in a new kitchen is exciting when you are going on holidays, but there is something disturbing about knowing that never again will the teapot be exactly where it used to be.

There is yet another dilemma. Shane is very fond of drawing and painting, and not just on paper or canvas. He also likes to decorate walls and doors. There is a particularly fetching portrait of a Moroccan drug dealer painted on to the sitting room door.

If anyone else had painted on the walls and doors, I would just paint over them. But what with him being a living legend, his doodles have been known to fetch quite good money. Lucian Freud's daughter Bella recently sold a sort of painted squiggle that Shane created in five minutes for stg£10,000. And what's more, Lucian watched Shane paint it and watched Bella sell it and did not laugh. And so I felt it would be a shame, in years to come, to have to admit to painting over something that might have value.

Which was when we hit upon the genius idea of taking the door off the hinges and selling it. But what should be done with the money? Should it be used to buy more stuff we don't need, or should it be put to a better use?

Shane suggested that if anyone wants to buy the door with the portrait on, we should give the money to the ISPCC. I called them up and they said they would be delighted to sell the door themselves, to raise funds for Childline, their helpline for kids in distress.

Childline gets no government funding and so while almost a million kids in this country call Childline every year, only 63 per cent of the calls can be answered, due to lack of funds. And so, dear readers, if anybody wants to purchase Shane MacGowan's door, it will be auctioned on eBay by the ISPCC. And hopefully that will mean that a good thing comes of this moving lark, after all.

www.ispcc.ie (01) 6767960

Sunday Independent

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