This picture mostly hangs on the wall at the foot of the stairs, so I see it a dozen times a day at least. I painted it seven or eight years ago as a technical exercise – most of the paint is applied with a palette knife, with just a bit of brushwork to work up the highlights on the fruit. It worked well, and came together quickly, with that fast hit of satisfaction you get when you work in a flow state and things fall into place just right, with a clear end point that lets you stand back and say ‘right, that’s done’.
Art History will give you reams of papers on still life and its symbolisms; and pomegranates, having appeared in art since well before the Romans, have accrued a whole host of meanings: beauty and death, fertility and virtue. But this is figurative work, an actual fruit in my actual kitchen, against the background of tiles I disliked when we moved in, and am no keener on fifteen years later.
Now, though, it makes me think of Persephone, roaming Hades waiting for Spring. I can’t paint. Although I need to and the lack of it hurts me, the whole process seems futile, a waste of materials and time. I look at this painting and remember the ease and conviction and I wonder when – if – I will feel that way again.