several years after my fathers death my mother asked me to help her manage some of my dads work.
I knew exactly what she meant. she wanted them destroyed.
she hadn’t moved yet or had any plans to.
so I was confused.
why was this happening?
I was about 17. it was an odd kind of honour to be asked to choose what survived and what didn’t. I had enough foresight to document the paintings chosen for ‘editing’.
there were lots of drawings, some in pencil and some in charcoal that were also chosen for removal.
unfortunately these weren’t photographed.
Kodak colour slide film wasn’t cheap and I didn’t have much money. photographing was all my idea.
I was closer to his work than anyone else in the family. even at that stage I knew what lesser or incomplete work looked like but it was a wrench. what was the alternative? refuse and leave her or someone else to make the cut?
the weather was impossibly cheerful and bright on the day, given the job we had consented to do. but it did make the photography easier.I remember being careful to include my mothers hands in some of the shots. if we were going to do this, I wanted her role to be documented and permenant.
looking back on the choices made, I’m not critical of my younger self. how could I be?I’m convinced that none of his best work (as I hope he would have agreed) was destroyed.