Thursday 18 January 2018

Rupert Flies Over The Suspension Bridge

Niall MacMonagle

by Tazia Fawley

acrylic on wood 2013

Where paintings end up is anyone's guess. Van Gogh's Sunset at Montmajour, painted in 1888, was banished to a Norwegian attic and didn't see the light of day for decades. It made its comeback in Amsterdam this month. But Rupert Flies Over the Suspension Bridge by Tazia Fawley began life in a garden studio in Somerset – and now it hangs in Prince George's nursery.

Fawley, 43, began painting 10 years ago on her brother's suggestion – and when Heart and Sold, a charity that supports artists with Down syndrome, saw this recent work, it – with Tazia's consent – contacted the UK royal family, sent an image, and asked if they would accept her painting as a welcome-to-the-world gift. They did.

Naturally, Tazia was delighted ("I did three balloon paintings and this one is my favourite") and excited to think "the most famous baby in the world" will see her art.

The eye instinctively moves across the huge bridge and the vibrant backdrop colours, orange, yellow, puce, pink and the steel cables aglow like fairylights, are a celebration of happiness. Rupert, in red jumper and yellow checked trousers and scarf – an iconic presence in children's literature since he first appeared in 1920 – has his back to us and waves at the balloons. There are more than 20 of then, the two on the right carry adverts, one for Shell Gas, another for the Bristol Balloon Festival itself. And the bridge is empty of traffic. No rushing cars and juggernauts, just bright globes of air, passengers in hanging baskets sailing by.

Fawley usually spends two months on a painting, this one took six, and works from photographs and postcards. Snowdonia, the Cornish coastline, Greek beaches feature and the work contradicts any idea of disability. Fawley is very able indeed. "I don't see myself as a Down syndrome artist, I see myself as an artist who just happens to have Downs."

This image deliberately uses a simple style and contains everything a child would love. It's an up, up and away painting that won't end up in any attic.

A limited edition of 75 giclee prints of this painting are for sale. Fawley will also show new work at Princess Hall, Burnham, opening the second week of October.

Sunday Independent

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