The best work he had ever done

Staying inside today. Outside it never really moves past twilight. As such, it feels like the day never really gets started and so, in many ways, it feels like the new year and new decade are on hold too. No bad thing, there is plenty of time for both.

I read some pages from Smiling in Slow Motion, the final journals of Derek Jarman. I think diaries offer something that other forms cannot – a poetry of the everyday, the magnitudes of fragments, where a few lines suggest so much more. He writes a few words on a friend who had just died, Graham Cracker.

The last time we saw Graham was in New York. He had been asked to trompe l’oeil a Manhattan dining room to look like a sun-baked prairie. Graham painted a beautiful desert with cactus plants and Joshua trees; as he put the finishing touches on the sky he included a tiny twister, almost invisible on the far horizon; it looked so good he made it larger and then larger. After a week of frenzied repainting the dining room was transformed: storm clouds and lightning flashes circled the eye of a thunder-cloud tornado. The best work he had ever done.

The millionaire owner returned from his vacation as Graham was making the final brush strokes. He hated it and threw Graham out on to the street, screaming: “I’ll see you never work again.”

We need more art like this.