I have a confession.
It happened a long time ago, but the memory remains firmly entrenched. I touched a work of art. I cannot use the excuse of youth, because my mother, Frances, was very specific about art gallery etiquette. I was to stand a few feet away from the work of art with my hands firmly behind my back.
If I remember correctly, the artwork was a quilt of vibrant colours with exquisite hand stitching. It seemed so soft, so inviting. I placed my small finger at the edge of the material. That was when I realized a great truth that only comes to the very young. The quilt became a living entity, asking gently, whether I would like to have people touch my shoulder – over and over again?
And that was the last time I touched an artwork…
At least for a few years. Things have changed.
Art galleries are doing what they do best – exploring and delivery new ways to connect art and viewer, inviting fresh insight into the creative process. Some art is meant to be experienced with all our senses – touching, seeing, even smelling.
Art reflects who we are at a specific point in time, functioning as a crystallizing force. We continue to evolve as individuals and as a global society. What we become seems to find home in our creative endeavours.
Oil on canvas
The Reverend Robert Walker (1755-1808) was the minister of the Canongate Kirk in Edinburgh. He joined the Skating Society in 1780. Family tradition claimed that Raeburn painted the portrait in 1784 for his own entertainment and gave it to the sitter's widow in 1808. Recent research had suggested that the picture was painted some ten years later and might be by the exiled French painter Henri-Pierre Danloux, who was in Edinburgh in the 1790s. Majority opinion, however, has retained the attribution to Raeburn.
Purchased 1949 (NG 2112)