After the adieu to the imitation Dutch Grandfather Clock period with the last box of painted clock dials being dropped off at the imitation clock factory, I did finally apply for the ‘Dutch Artist’ salary. I filled in forms with proof of my birth and educational levels. My quantity surveying qualification could easily throw this whole undertaking askew. I had to tread carefully! It was something to ponder about .
What about if the recommendation came back suggesting I should work in an office working out bills of quantities instead of doing art? I knew the Dutch bureaucracy might like art but they also had a very practical side to their culture. They could easily tell me to get a real job. I had nightmares of having gone and left Gertrude Cottage in Australia, travel to Holland itching to paint full time AND finally have an income, only to end up wearing a suit to an office and sadly having to pore over bills of quantities, working out quantities for cement or sewer pipes for the latest and world’s best re-cycling plant.
On the other hand I did have proof with the success of being ‘hung’ at the NSW State Gallery and a couple of prizes at Australian Municipal competitions. Through a friend I had also managed to show some of my work at a gallery in Japan’s Kyoto. I wasn’t totally unprepared. Even so, I decided sagely to remain mum about my Quantity surveying qualification, my previous bank experiences or my prowess in the decorating business with the buff coloured letterheads and matching envelopes.
Was I dishonest or not somewhat duplicitous? Many artists do other jobs, provide for a family and do their art? Why even worry about that? Wasn’t it always a kind of wild-haired bohemian wearing a beret at a rakish angle that created? If it became too hard he would simply disregard spouses and crying babies. He, and sometime a she, would walk out, satchel, easel and pallet on shoulder, whistling in the wind, going up and beyond hill and gone forever. New daisies and fragrant meadows were beckoning and to be explored! Many ‘real artists’ would leave a trail of relationship disasters with endlessly and chaotically fathering children of many sexes. Desperate love affairs were obligatory in most that claim to possess creative powers. Leaving spouses was the very essence and proof of creative forces at work. History is full of the wrath of partners betrayed. Daggers were raised and many artists lives ended painfully, their canvasses slashed. Today, the Family Court sorts it all out but it costs an arm and a leg just the same as before with the knife. Of course, the ‘real artist’ does not care. He continues on creating,. whistling.
Alas, I loved H and
my family dearly and applied for this salary that would give me freedom to paint my pictures. I filled in the forms, submitted some of my work. I was asked to wait in a hallway with other applicants. Some were a bit nervous. You wondered what discussions were taking place. I just hoped they would not get the paintings mixed up. The man who accepted my paintings did look askance and somewhat bored. I suppose if one did that for a job, it might not be all that different from painting seagulls. Would he go home to his partner and regale about the paintings or sculptures and ceramics he had seen that day. I mean, day in day out? I did hear some laughter coming out of the room. Were they ridiculing some of the work. I had a peek at one painters paintings and they were all of large oysters. He was obviously taken by the sea and its creative forces. Why not? An oyster is such a magnificent work on its own.
At the end of it all, we were asked to take our work back and we would be told by letter. It would be a nervous few weeks.