I started carving this wood block yesterday. It’s based on the well-known 18th century painting, The Swing, by Fragonard. It was while I was working on this piece that I had some sad news. My very dear friend Anne had died, aged 87.
I first met Anne when I was a young girl and she came to be close friends with my parents. She lived in London so when I went to boarding school in England at age 14, I stayed with Anne on long weekends. That was the beginning of our friendship.
Being with Anne was a terrific adventure. We’d walk all over London, visiting hidden corners of the city. We went to museums and to see plays and to pubs. She was always talking about her life; telling amazing stories about the war, about being a Dior model in Paris in the fifties, about getting thrown in jail in Spain for protesting Franco. There were stories about how she’d worked on a sailing ship, worked as a film actress, presented programs for the BBC. In short, her life was better than fiction. So, of course, her primary and last career was as a writer.
She was fierce and fearless. She always wore lipstick and nail varnish. She was fond of swearing and her drink was, of course, gin and tonic. Being with Anne was like watching fireworks; loud, bright and glittery.
It was fitting that I was working on the Fragonard when I heard about Anne yesterday because I was with her at The Wallace Collection when I first saw this painting. We were both surprised at how small it is; less surprised at its loveliness.
So, this block is for Anne.
I am so glad I knew her.