Friday, June 19, 2009

Talking about art in a hotel lavatory

Peter McIntyre, Study of a Dancer, undated, oil on canvas, collection of Auckland Art Gallery, purchased 1950.

"The New Zealander suspects anyone who is sure with words, he thinks it is either glibness or showing off. (Could we take kindly to a Christopher Fry?) Once in a hotel lavatory an art student and I were talking of Peter McIntyre's drawings when a little man piped up that he was a returned man from the first war and he knew that we knew what we were talking about but there was no need to let the whole lavatory know it. We explained that the place had been empty when we entered, we hadn't seen him come in, as we left with his blessing. I can't speak for others: I know I hate talking anything but gossip in a bus or train or in the pictures: otherwise you sense the rest of the bus listening united in one unspoken sneer at half-cock. The New Zealander fears ideas that don't result in increased crop-yield or money or home comforts. The wise man never mentions his learning, after the same pattern as the popular ideal of the returned soldier who never mentions his battles."

Bill Pearson, from Fretful Sleepers, 1954

I am pretty sure that all this is still true. Quite astute, Bill Pearson.

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