Sunday, 13 February 2011
Chihuahua reaching for cake
The picture hangs in the Hanson Portrait Gallery, and is entitled Chihuahua reaching for cake. As many critics have pointed out, the chihuahua is actually reaching for a muffin -- a chocolate chip banana espresso muffin, in fact -- which the artist acknowledges.
The artist in question is Geraldinium Holmes, and all interviews with her to date have started off with questions about her name. She recounts,
"My mother was very much a product of her era, which was the end of the fifties and the start of the sixties. She'd thrown off repression in a big way, would have burned her bra if she hadn't felt that wearing one was also repressive, and was taking anything and everything she could get her hands on that was called a drug. When she came to have me christened, she thinks she was on horse tranquilisers, though from her description it could have easily been powdered bleach. The vicar rejected out of hand her first three choices of names: Bitchface, bitchslap, and Thingummyjig He insisted that any child born had a right to life, no matter the mother's opinion. So my mother cast about for another name, and thinks she started with Germaine, got side-tracked by Geranium, and ended up trying for Geraldine. So I got lumbered with Geraldinium."
The painting was produced during Geraldinium's Blue period, or as she puts it, "most of my life so far". It is simple enough: it shows a small chihuahua reaching for a muffin sitting on a plate. It is unknown if the chihuahua actually got any of the muffin.
"It's a figment of his imagination," says Geraldinium's landlady at the time (Geraldinium has since become homeless) who is insistent that Geraldinium is male, despite having met her many times. "There's no way I'd allow muffins in my boarding house and he knows that."
The identity of the chihuahua, if it really exists, remains a mystery. Attempts to find Geraldinium to ask further questions about the painting meet dead ends and blank walls. Geraldinium has disappeared into the seedy underbelly of the dispossessed of the city, and we the critics are left hoping that out of this will come a new work, of similar power and artistic integrity to Chihuahua reaching for cake