Researching a piece of writing in work I find a quote from Frank Bowling, now in his seventies and the first black artist to be elected a member of the Royal Academy of Arts in 2005. He said “Go to the museums and make art that can measure up to the museums. Make art better than anything you’ve ever seen before”. In my mind is the National, open spaces, stretches of gallery, the quiet tap of shoes on marble, pencil lines in a notebook.
Then there is the domestic. Mum tells me on the phone that she is cleaning out the Rayburn for winter and instantly I can smell oil, greasy rags, the blue flame ring with a low raging sound. The memory of cold floor tiles on bare feet.
Mid-week I volunteer at a fundraiser for a Ugandan orphanage. The church in Whitechapel has vaulted ceilings, candlelight and gleaming silver. When the gospel choir sings their voices echo in the light arches – and they remind me of Sunday and dirt floors and that wooden chapel and dancing colours.
Sudden switches in my mind, flickering image.
I walk to the station one evening and the trees are now bare on Brick Lane, the summer heat and bangla sound are gone. Someone freewheels along next to me, the cobbles clinking loose in the road and the smell of frying meat in the cold air. Between classes, the students from fashion college stand out smoking in the street.
I have meetings in Somerset House to see both an old and a potential client. Afterwards, outside, the rain is sharp, bright yellow and blue reflecting flat off the sandstone pavement. The walls seem somehow to be even whiter than usual. Lines of chill coming through the open air and golden light from the treetops across the river. Blinding white October sun and the five o clock traffic on Waterloo Bridge. I have to stop and scribble words in my notebook. Over the weekend, I will meet my friend Lori there for coffee. It is great to see her and we will talk about Dundee and family and her boyfriend and our lives. But for now, it is dusky and the space is empty and quiet.