In Contemplation And In Conversation – Companionship at the Tate Britain 

So here I was in London, at the time safely ensconced in Dolphin Square – little knowing what fate would befall me in January. Please see post of January 31, 2017 for the gory details. However and unfortunately my creative spirit had been extinguished due to the shenanigans of the horrid creative writing program that had dealt me a gregarious blow. You read about that on February 15, 2017. I knew I needed something to inspire me as I was unable to concentrate on the biography of my uncle. It had been tainted by the wrongful actions of the institute of higher learning.
I accidentally met a poet by the name of Jessica Phibbs and came up with a brilliant idea. At first she did not think it was particularly brilliant notion but gamely said she would give it a try. I describe the process in the Introduction of the book which was self published with the help, skills and acumen of my favorite and the best computer guru Chris Jackson.
“This book, this project was my idea, I do admit. It morphed from an idea I had in 2014 the year I lived practically next door to the British Museum. I bought a postcard of an artifact in the museum, visited the artifact and mused on the object in its surroundings. Those post cards, probably ten to twelve in number, do exist but have not been formalized in a book or in any way deified.

So first a word about me, then a word about Jessica, and then some words about our unlikely meeting and partnership.”
After a brief description of our selves I went onto describing the process of creation that brought forth the book.
‘This became our routine. We went to each gallery of the permanent collection and scouted about for a painting, a work of art that we could speak to.
Our styles were different. Jessica would take a postcard of the chosen work home with her. The next morning she would write a poem. When no post cards were available I would take a picture with my iPhone, have the image developed and she would use the photograph as the impetus for the poem.
My routine was different. I would go back to the Tate Britain and converse with the painting in its surroundings. I did my writing in a notebook. This routine evolved as you will read. I became research oriented with the Venessa Bell painting, looked into the career of Mrs. Siddons and did rather extensive biographic research at the British Museum on the painter Angelica Kaufmann.”
So the work evolved and was completed. Jessica dates her poems and so we can trace the chronology: the first 7th September 2016; the last 23 October, 2016.


So the work is done. Magically, I find Chris. He formats, Photo Shops, finds the best place to order its publication and takes all the necessary steps. It arrives by post. It was rather an amazing day and I describe it to my cousins in some detail. The subject line was: An omen?
My dear cousins,

“I don’t know if you know about this. I had this project whereby Jessica, a poet and I, a prose person would go to the Tate Britain, to the permanent collection and we would choose a painting in each of the rooms. Jessica would write a poem to it, I would write a prose piece to it. Then all were compiled, I hired a computer expert, that wonderful man Chris. He formatted it all and sent it off to a publisher for self publishing. Forty books came to the door of my flat yesterday. They are a work of art. It was so much work but your phrase: “Alexis suck it up” comes into play yet again.

But here is the omen part. I was so excited and the postman and I chatted away. As he left I asked him his name. It was David. OMG I think I cried. I told him about our uncle and his name and my book. David, the postman said it was an omen. This is a true story. Read more about the book on the blog. I am so proud of myself, I did the work on the book when I was in my lowest creative ebb and it sort of restored me. Alexis “
The Introduction of the book concludes with the sense of awe I felt when: “I went back to the Tate just the other day, about a month after the completion of the work. I walked through the rooms and when I saw one of treasures it was like seeing a long lost friend. They were familiar. It brought back memories of earlier closeness.”
But if you think this story has a happy ending I have a surprise for you. A couple of days after delivery I began reading the book. I found to my horror that my prose is riddled with typographical errors. I blame no one but myself. I was planning to sell the books, not really for a huge profit but because people usually value something they pay for rather than freebies. How could I sell something so defective? I did what I always do. I cry, in front of Marcus at the Rex Whistler. He takes my hand and says: “Alexis, just give it to friends as a memento when you leave. They wouldn’t mind the typos, even cherish them.” I instantly become happy, happy, happy. I am dolling them out with discretion. It is a brilliant idea. Chris is correcting the errors and there may be a future publication but at this moment I do have a lot on my plate and I don’t just mean at the Rex Whistler.

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