The Mystery of Appearance: Michael Andrews

I’ve saved my favourite til last! I looked at this painting for the longest. It’s called ‘The Lord Mayor’s Reception in Norwich Castle Keep, On the Eve of the Installation of the First Chancellor of the University of East Anglia’. That’s three ‘of the’s! You can see the entire painting below.

This one was a big one, with loads to look at. I don’t see that many modern paintings with a lot of people in them, but I have seen quite a few from the 1700s and 1800s – you know, those ones depicting a Christian story, or a war. What use do we have for a lot of people now in a painting? Don’t we prefer instead to scrutinise one face?

I absolutely love the way photographs have been painted over here.

And I love how the waitresses are all put together here! Lined up, posed for the camera, but painted completely. And attention is drawn to them in the painting. I’ve been a waitress on occasion – most of the time people prefer to ignore you. You certainly won’t be sought out for conversation unless it’s in order to get to the secret stash of wine.


But what the hell is this? A massive bird sticking out of the wall on a stick? What? why? and who decided to put that monstrosity there?

I only realised that this painting was by the same artist when I got home. They’re awfully different but I love it too.

At first I thought it was just an abstract piece, and I stared into the middle. Suddenly the boat jumped out at me. (That’s the effect of big paintings, you don’t notice everything at once. And the lighting made the white more white too, so the boat was almost camouflaged.) I admire how I didn’t notice the boat at first – it’s a very clever painter that can make a boat jump out at you! With all the scrapey abstractness of most of the painting, I wasn’t on the lookout for that lovely careful boat detail.

I tried to work out the perspective – where am I standing? Is that the sea and the sky or just the sea? I must be on a rocky cliff, elevated, looking down. But then why is the sky not all blue? Often I need all the answers, but I find this painting enchanting without them. I can let go. Whatever the perspective is, I can still taste the salt air.

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One response to “The Mystery of Appearance: Michael Andrews

  1. Pingback: Painting of the Week: 16 | the i.b.tauris blog

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