An Art Executor must know exactly what he or she is looking after, and has to look after it. Possibly because it had been such a scramble to pack up the studio and find safe storage, I was obsessed with the fear that I had lost something. Once we had got most of the art back in one place I started to try to count what it was we had, so that in the future I would know if anything did go missing. So I started to make a list: it turned into a catalogue.
I began with the art works I could see – oils and paper reliefs, released from storage and stacked around the walls, on tables and in bookcases. A proper catalogue lists works by title, date, signature, and size, so I worked my way through looking for titles and dates and measuring. Then I tried to make a numbered list. There were about 33 oils and about 40 paper reliefs in box frames. Why could I not be precise? Because each time I counted I reached a slightly different total. And why was that? I see now that it was easy to double count or get confused because of superficial similarities of the works. Counting alone by title, date, signature, and size, essential though these details were, was not enough without a description of the features, as most had no titles, had no visible signature, and were the same size and had similar subjects. (Learning how to describe was another new skill to learn.)
My grief, manifesting as anxiety, was stopping me from doing anything so rational as making a proper list. At the time I felt guilty, and defeated by failing to get to grips with such a simple task. So I stopped the effort for a while and turned to the boxes of Jenny’s notebooks, records and photos.
There I found that she too had made lists – lots of them, from her earliest days at Central onwards, in a variety of notebooks and some photo albums, but none comprehensive or systematic. On her computer she had just under 900 images in ‘photos’ dating from 2006, and almost as many (and mostly the same) in Picasa. There was no discernible system: worse, the various folders were mostly unnamed. Apple had labelled them with the date they had been started but Jenny had added more images to them after that date seemingly at random.
So I learned another lesson. Artists don’t count. They know they should but it’s simply not interesting enough.
The image above is the only Paper Relief Platonic Shape 6 x 6 grid Jenny ever made: the rest are all 3 x 3. It was not boxed. Should I have counted it?