ARTIST BOBBIE RUSSON
My daughter was recalling the other day being given a teddy bear that she came to treasure. On receipt of the present we asked her what the teddy would be called. ‘Different Selection’ came the unexpected response. So she grew up always having Different Selection as a companion. This is immediately what I thought of when Bobbie Russon talked about the influences on this body of work.
From a young age I think we are acutely aware of the need for companionship. When that is missing we can be quite resourceful in seeking it out by other means. At bed time when a child finds themselves alone within the darkened space of their room they will often turn to something for comfort – a favourite bear, doll or other object that they hold dear. They can imbue the object (for even a child secretly knows that it is inanimate) with personality and character, offering solace amidst their perceived aloneness.
There is a certain diffidence or anxiety about Bobbie’s protagonists, which often turns into comedy.
Bobbie goes on...Convention tells us that as we grow older we no longer need this kind of reassurance, but of course as adults we don’t stop needing company and interaction. We may well find ourselves alone more frequently, often not through choice. So different tools help us through the feelings of isolation. Some turn to religion, others the company of radio and television or music and books. We might turn to nature as our quiet companion – plants that we nurture, birds that we feed and of course pets that we own.
Jane Hirshfield put it rather nicely..
Leave a door open long enough,
a cat will enter.Leave food, it will stay.
Soon, on cold nights,
you’ll be saying “Excuse me”
if you want to get out of your chair.
But one thing you’ll never hear from a cat
is “Excuse me.”
Nor Einstein’s famous theorem.
Nor “The quality of mercy is not strained.”
In the dictionary of Cat, mercy is missing.
In this world where much is missing,
a cat fills only a cat-sized hole.
Yet your whole body turns toward it
again and again because it is there.
–A Small-sized Mystery
And of course not forgetting dog people (and summer)
You’re like a little wild thing
that was never sent to school.
Sit, I say, and you jump up.
Come, I say, and you go galloping down the sand
to the nearest dead fish
with which you perfume your sweet neck.
It is summer.
How many summers does a little dog have?
Run, run, Percy.
This is our school.
School by Mary Oliver
At times of course, the titles of the paintings are ambiguous, open to interpretation.
Visitors flocking to Bath. This morning I saw a group with selfie sticks brandished in front of the Abbey. If you squint it might be a medieval jousting get-together.
Once there was a man who filmed his vacation.
He went flying down the river in his boat
with his video camera to his eye, making
a moving picture of the moving river
upon which his sleek boat moved swiftly
toward the end of his vacation. He showed
his vacation to his camera, which pictured it,
preserving it forever: the river, the trees,
the sky, the light, the bow of his rushing boat
behind which he stood with his camera
preserving his vacation even as he was having it
so that after he had had it he would still
have it. It would be there. With a flick
of a switch, there it would be. But he
would not be in it. He would never be in it.