David Tindle: Janet With Chinese Screen


When birds look into houses, what impossible worlds they see.
Don DeLillo, The Body Artist

I really like the mood of this painting, made by fellow Yorkshireman David Tindle in 1971. The expression on her face is as enigmatic as that of the Mona Lisa. Is she feeling a bit glum, or is there the faint suggestion of the hint of an ironic smile? Does she think she knows something we don’t know? The colours and the whole atmosphere of this painting captures for me that period in the early 1970’s when  my nervous system was entering the third circuit in Timothy Leary’s 8-circuit model of consciousness and I was experiencing my first serious imprinting experiences. Britain was in a cultural doldrums between the fag-end of ‘hippie’ and the advent of glam rock and punk, and I remember feeling, even at a very young age, that everything seemed to be on hold. Nothing much had changed round our way since World War 2, an event that still cast a long shadow over everyone’s consciousness, from the stories old timers told to the comics we read and the films they showed on wet Sunday afternoons. That stasis felt like it was going to be ruptured by something not yet considered, and out of that sense of unease came strange things like The Wicker Man, Blood On Satan’s Claw, The Owl Service, Penda’s Fen – considerations of a feral past and vengeful earth forces at large – as well as a folk music revival, the Brotherhood of Ruralists, J.G.Ballard at his visionary peak and Ian McEwan’s dark and strange early fictions. All of that comes to mind when I look at this picture.


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