John and Mary Exhibition

The exhibition at the Institute of Education in 1979 was a big effort, i designed the screens and had them made by a young American in my North  London flat and covered them with canvas stapling it to the wooden frame. They had brass lift on hinges, I didn’t know until we transported the screens to the Institute if it would work. Thankfully with Warren’s perseverance and agility it did. the worst part was covering the screens in situ with white felt which i mostly did myself with some help from friends. i realised later this was a mistake,the white was too harsh and felt was costly, muslin would have been better and easier and cheaper to use. i borrowed a diaz from the Art dept for the centre with steps up. The security staff complained a lot saying it was a fire hazard… i had to dismantle it before the end of the exhibition and re hang it in a corridor as a mural. Originally I wanted to create an artwork that expressed my feeling that time past ,present and future can somehow be happening simultaneously, that all time is relative. i had read a lot about different religions and beliefs, including Buddhism, and Mystical Christianity which may have inspired these feelings.I felt that to portray a series of episodes in a family’s life was the best way to express my feelings. At the time around 1972, i had been doing imaginative paintings, semi-abstract, and was even thinking of trying to make a film about time.But i decided i was too introverted to try and make a film and would need too much financial help so began to do drawings for John and Mary, i did have to get friends and my ex husband to pose for the many drawings.The most difficult was the bedroom painting, i asked some friends of my husband who were into acting. if they’d pose and they were happy to do so ,they only posed for an hour i think then Larry posed with a cushion.. and a girlfriend posed with a large cushion too. A friend who was pregnant posed. Several friends posed for the  “family photo” painting but i think the girl in it is based on me as a child and the couple and son have some resemblance to my parents and brothers.Different friends posed for the other paintings, i used photos and drawings and also did sketches of suburban houses and gardens . i painted the landscapes partly from my memory of places and imagination and the tower blocks were similar to some near Swiss cottage though it’s a more suburban location similar to West Sussex where I grew up.I did some studies of cemeteries and graves for what was the last painting which joins up with the first Happy Family painting as it did in the exhibition and in my small foldout version it appears again at the end.I did show the paintings as a mural at the South London Gallery in 1979 but that was not what I’d planned, I wanted it to be shown in a circle.