Eggs: A Story Of Unexpected Discovery And Friendship

"Eggs", 1989, 12x10", oil on canvas

“Eggs”, 1989, 12×10″, oil on canvas

A few days ago a beautiful and unexpected situation developed between two random people who didn’t know each other.
This was made possible by curiosity to find a deeper purpose in life, passion for art and technology all coming together in collaboration. This is a story of a story, that is still evolving.

In my hometown of London, UK, back in 1989, when I was the ripe old age of 17, I was studying fine art as one of my A’Level subjects before progressing on to do my BA Honors degree in Sculpture at Chelsea College of Art & Design.
One of the projects I was assigned, was to paint a still life.
The little still life I created, was an oil painting of some eggs and an egg box. This little painting then proceeded to go on a journey. It passed the second round of selection for the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition of 1990, and then it ended up in the Richmond Hill Gallery, in Surrey, where I had several exhibitions during the early 1990s. During that time, it was mysteriously lost, and I never saw it again.

Cut to the morning of the 11th of July 2016.
As I woke up and started my day, I found a curious email in my inbox, with “Eggs(RA)”, in the subject line. I was about to delete it thinking it was just another spam email, when instead of “delete”, I pressed “open”, to find an email from a lady I didn’t know, from the UK.

Apologizing in advance, in case she had emailed he wrong Charlotte Greenwood, she explained her story about having a painting of some eggs, that she had acquired from the Richmond Hill Gallery in the early 1990s.
The gallery stood on the corner of a road, and there were a few shops there. She said, ” if I remember: an off licence (where I would bump into David Attenborough, who lived round the corner), a dress shop and a shop that sold bits of painted furniture, etc. I was living in one of the small ‘Alberts’ cottage at the time”.

My heart jumped and a big smile came over my face. I couldn’t believe what I was reading. This story, from this mysterious lady, brought memories of my childhood, flooding back.
I was enthralled that the little painting had been in her family for almost 30 years, and now was “up north” in Newcastle Upon Tyne.

I immediately replied, saying that yes she had found the right person, and that it was me who had painted the little still life of the eggs. I was thrilled to know that one of the earliest artworks I had ever painted, had survived several house moves and was still being enjoyed to this day. I sent her a link to my current website and some stories of my more recent art creations, and we exchanged a few more emails.

Out of respect for the lady in question, I have changed her name to Kathy, to tell this story.
Kathy was sad that I had lost the painting for all these years, and asked if I wanted the painting back. She even offered to pay for its delivery from the UK to Canada.
I thought it over, and I was torn. Kathy had bought the painting and it was part of her family, but at the same time I remembered how fond my parents had been of that painting (and its partner a still life of some bananas), and how they were so sad when it was lost. Even today they still have two framed laser prints of the paintings, in their kitchen.
After a bit of thought over this, we both agreed that Kathy would send the painting to my parents in the south of France.
She asked,
” Do they live near Cannes? Just a shot in the dark. I have a friend who flies out to her house every month”.
“Well, as it happens they do”, I replied.
I couldn’t believe how the situation was unfolding at this point. I was excited to know that my parents, whom I haven’t seen in person for three years, would have this beautiful surprise and a gift of a painting they love and hadn’t seen for nearly 30 years.

To mark my appreciation of Kathy’s kindness, I offered to paint her a new still life, of something that was meaningful to her.
She wrote me a story of the farmhouse she was born in, on the moors of Northumberland, in northern England. The first girl to be born there in hundreds of years. So to mark the occasion, the shepherds put white heather on the hearth, in the farmhouse, as a mark of good luck. White heather is really rare, and they say in local folklore, it only grows where the fairies play. She told me of her “secret place” where she goes to sit on a rock which is surrounded by white heather and went on to describe,
“The Rock has cup and ring markings on it, carved by people who lived and farmed on the hill- thousands of years ago, I have been told”. “And”, she said, “the rock is the shape of an egg, which brings us back to the start of our journey”.
I thought, “this is perfect, I can use this as the base of my new still life”. So, I asked Kathy to send
me a bunch of white heather and take a photo of the rock with the markings on it, and send that with the heather. I will include them in the still life that I’m going to paint for her. And so our story continues to evolve.

I was moved by this random contact and how it has grown into a bigger story. It made me think of my portrait project YOU, and I thought this story and a portrait of Kathy, would fit perfectly into that project, since YOU is all about the stories that each of us have to share, and how we are all connected. I took a chance and asked Kathy if she would accept to become one of the portraits in my book of 100 faces.
I sent her the preface of the book, with some of the images of my finished portraits, so she could get an idea of what the project is about. She was blown away by my invitation, and she accepted.

What I think is so wonderful about this story is that, it brings to light how art can have such a profound impact on where our lives take us. It made me think of all the things I have created over my lifetime so far, and the experiences that those things brought forth as a result. And how they have interacted with other people.
In this way art is important. It invokes conversation amongst people, it provokes emotions, curiosity, memories, moments of quiet contemplation, and in this case it has created new, real life experiences and friendships between people who didn’t know each other before.
This is how powerful art can be, even a little still life of some eggs!

So next time you experience an original work of art, remember, there is a whole story that led up to its existence. And even though art doesn’t talk in the same way a human being does, it can have a compelling presence.

Northumberland National Park, England.

Northumberland National Park, England.

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Thank YOU: 10 Portrait Commissions In 10 Months

Libelulle D'Amour

“Libellule D’Amour”, 11×14″, pencil on paper, 2016

In 2013, I made a big career change. After 17 years, I stopped working in the Film and TV business (in Special Effects, prosthetic make-up, modelmaking and set sculpture), with the intension of increasing the quality of my life, and also I wanted give back more to the community.

In early 2013, I started taking my training courses to become a CrossFit and Gymnastics trainer, whilst still working full-time on my last few film productions. It was an intense and exciting period. In November 2013, at the end of my last film contract, I took on a full-time position as a CrossFit and Gymnastics Trainer. There was, and still is, a lot to learn in my new field of work, and because of the work load, and the volume of training I had committed myself to as an athlete, there was no time to spend in my art studio for the best part of three years.  Last year, in July 2015, after a lot of hard work re-training, I decided to get back to my artistic side and set my mind to continuing production on project YOU. 

It started off as a weekend occupation, and then at the beginning of this year in 2016, the urge to make Art again became too powerful to ignore. So, I re-structured my schedule to dedicate more studio time to my Art, by cutting down my hours as a trainer. It was a little nerve-wracking at first, but since I made that choice, I have had a steady flow of commissions come in, month by month.

“Live To Tell The Tale”, 11×14″, pencil on paper, 2016

Working as a Trainer, and living the life of an athlete, amongst other things, has taught me a lot about, the Human Condition and people, about who I am, and about running a business. The most valuable thing I have learned over the past three years is confidence. Between giving people classes as a Trainer, and participating in competitions as an Athlete, I have been prepared more than anything I have done before, to believe that I can really do whatever I set my heart and mind to, and  live my dream supporting myself as an artist without “selling out”, and being true to my core values.

In fact since I took up my pencils and brushes again in 2015, I have had 10 portrait commissions in the past 10 months.

I felt this to be a perfect moment to say a big thank you to the people who have helped support my artistic development, and as a consequence, the continuation of project YOU. I am truly grateful for this, and I am excited to keep on going, step by step, art-work by art-work, to finish my book:  YOU, and towards fulfilling my goals as an artist.

If you would like to know how you can become part of this project, or to place a comission, please send me an email





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Imaginary Chaos complete!

You – Gabriel

Thank you Gabriel!
Get your commission

Thank you Gabriel Harbour for your commission and contribution to my current project: “YOU”, a visual autobiography, illustrated by me and told by you, the people that have marked my life, so far.
This project is a celebration of people, and the stories each of us have to share. It is an example of how people are connected over a lifetime. It will be a special collection of portraits, with written content from each person featured in the collection. The body of work will be edited together into a book, and the original drawings will be shown in an exhibition.

To get involved in the project and place commissions, contact me by clicking this link

See the series

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Antique Cars- The making of “Red Lynx (1934)”

“Red Lynx (1934)”, was part of a three oil painting commission of antique cars, from an antique car enthusiast in Sevenoaks, UK.
It was a great opportunity to use the “seven Layer technique” used by the Flemish Masters in the 16th century. I felt this technique fitted well with the context of the antique subject matter.
The technique involves painting a complete under painting, in monochrome, to establish the “light” in the painting. Then to slowly build up the color intensity in transleuscent layers, adding the final highlights at the end. This is how the effect of hyper-realism and such rich color is created.
Paintings made in this fashion, will last over 100 years. Quality artworks. I felt privileged to have this commission.

Click here to see the whole collection: this link

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