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Oliver Jeffers


01-12-2015
Laurie was one of the lucky few to be part of Oliver Jeffers' first London instalment of his Dipped Painting project. Best know for his hugely popular children's books and illustrations, Oliver Jeffers is also an accomplished painter. 

OH Oliver Jeffers Journal Dripping

In 2012, Oliver Jeffers started to explore the themes of human memory, grief and portraiture, which lead him, and Laurie, to this secret event; the location of which was disclosed moments before the start, adding to the drama of the proceedings.

An eclectic group of people waited in a non-descript foyer inside a building near Covent Garden, about to be the only witnesses to Oliver Jeffers' complete, pre-dipped work of art.  

It was upon entering the long, pitched room, and seeing Oliver Jeffers standing in his painting overalls, that you had a sense of what an extraordinary evening this was going to be. 

OH Oliver Jeffers Journal Dripping 

In the middle of the room, suspended by wires, was a frame covered by a white cloth and a separate large sheet of paper, on which Oliver Jeffers' recognisable handwriting told the story of the portrait sitter. 

The much anticipated unveiling of the portrait revealed a distinguished Asian gentleman standing cross armed, painted in Oliver Jeffers' recognisable style that is so captivating. It also became apparent that the subject of the portrait was standing in the room, absorbing our reactions to his image and story. 

Seeing the artwork up close and taking in its detail - the sitter's crimson flower poking from the left pocket of his light brown jacket, alongside a hint of a bracelet on his wrist, his comfortable position and curious gaze off to the right - felt like a privilege. But you'll have to take my word for that, for it wasn't long before the dipping process began. 

Oliver himself poured 16 tins of pink enamel paint into a trough and slowly dipped the portrait into the paint. Concealing it and transforming it forever. Well, most of it.  

OH Oliver Jeffers Journal Dripping

When the painting was lifted out, it left a trail across the written piece we'd read earlier, concealing parts of that message too, and in turn, creating a supporting piece of artwork. 

We toasted the dipping with a dram of whisky to say goodbye to the old painting and celebrate its new life. It was an emotional occasion, and felt very similar to a funeral in many ways. While the painting didn’t hold the same sentimental attachment as a loved one, having been one of only a few people to see the completed portrait, I felt compelled to share the memory of the painting. And so I have. As Oliver Jeffers said: "It's only through your eyes and your ears that the whole painting is recorded. Its future is up to you."


OH Oliver Jeffers Journal Dripping


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