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Sunday, September 23, 2012


The garden’s doing tremendously well after all the rain. Warm weather’s also returned and the plants are growing like there’s no tomorrow. No garden pests have appeared yet, except for two nocturnal pet rabbits that travel from their yard across the road every evening to come and ravish our parsley and jasmine plants. I really feel like cooking rabbit stew at the moment - there’s nothing but stalks left on the poor plants. The buggers leave fragrant little poops all over when returning home at sunrise; pure concentrated parsley. If it was up to me I’d use them in the food but The One won’t let me.

Unfortunately the rabbits don't eat grass so I still had to mow the lawn.

It’s long weekend over here with tomorrow being Heritage Day and National Braai Day. If the Fortunes are merciful we should have a little something to slap on the fire. We also plan on visiting the Antique Faire at the Melrose House in town. The One’s never been there and I think it’ll be fun to graze among all the bric-a-brac and see the ridiculous amounts of cash some people want for their junk.

Meanwhile we are keeping out of trouble by pottering around the house. Yesterday morning we did as little as possible. I suppose I should have gone for a haircut but instead we just lazed about. I wanted to go to a nearby barber earlier in the week during lunch but I was unable to use my god-given 20 minutes the one time I needed to. Teamwork, bleh.

In the afternoon we became a little more active and wanted to restore an old computer The One got somewhere but after trying every trick we know we gave up and tossed it.

Anyway, today’s project, which we've been discussing for a while, concerned one of the very few things I got from my dad. At 1.23m x 0.55m (4ft x 1.8ft) it is an artwork one sixth the size of the original painting by Pablo Picasso named Guernica (which is a gigantic 7.8m x 3.5m (25.6ft x 11.6ft)). Completed in 1937, the oil painting was commissioned for the Spanish Pavilion at the Paris National Exhibition. It is an outcry against the bombing of the Basque town of Guernica by German and Italian warplanes, at the behest of the Spanish National Forces during the Spanish Civil War.

I have no idea when, why and how my father became the owner of the framed artwork. I also have no idea how I came to possess it but I have always known it and that it would one day be mine. I've always been fascinated by the painting and the events that it captures.

So the project was to open the print or painting to inspect it and also to properly clean the frame and re-seal the tattered back. You can see how dingy it is – that’s all fly shit and nicotine.

We discovered some water damage on the back but thankfully it didn't penetrate to the actual print.

It is hard to make out. The paper looks and feels like photographic paper. With my limited knowledge of these kinds of things I was unable to decide if it was an original artwork or simply a print. My verdict? I think it’s a three colour silk-screen or litho print with detail added by hand in grey and blue pencil.

It was very satisfying to inspect the print and to see the fine detail up close. We cleaned the inside of the glass and the frame properly. A name and a date was scribbled on the back of the wooden frame in pencil: L. Grey, 1996. It can’t be 1996 though, because by then the print had been hanging on the study wall for a long, long time. Maybe L. Grey was dyslexic and meant to write 1969?

We gently wiped the sacred print with a soft cloth before returning it to the relative safety of the frame. We sealed the back as best we could and cleaned the gunk off the glass and the frame outside. Better, no?

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