The exhibition… a true story

Continuing my week of true stories:

There was a girl and her family moved to a new town when she was sixteen; where she had lived before she’d had lots of friends, and lots of boy friends,  but only a few ‘boyfriends’ and those little romances had been very brief and fleeting and not serious.

Not knowing many people in the new town, the girl and her sister spent their days in the summer holidays before going to their new school just wandering around, which was quite pleasant, but not very interesting. There was an outdoor art exhibition of local artists work which the girls drifted through. They were both quite good at art so they liked looking at the work, some of which was terrible and some of which was quite good.

The girl saw a picture which made her stop and stare. It was among a collection of other works, mainly scenes, but a couple of other pieces too. This picture was of a grove of silver birches in autumn; the sun was shining on the white bark and the gorgeous gold and copper and bronze leaves. The sky was a brilliant, pellucid blue and the picture was so vivid she felt as if she could almost walk into it.

It wasn’t very expensive, but more than she could afford; she was looking for a part-time job in the town but hadn’t found one yet. She looked at the signature on the bottom of the painting, T. Stewart. The next day in town again, the girls split up, the sister went to look at clothes in a new boutique, the girl went back to the outdoor art exhibition. Sitting beside the picture of the birch trees in a fold-up canvas chair was a young man; was this T. Stewart? Was this Mr or Mrs T. Stewart’s son?

He was a few years older than her, maybe twenty, maybe a little more, and his eyes drifted over her without even noticing her. She pretended she hadn’t noticed him either, and went along the line of picture and then went and looked at the work of other artists, pretending that the young man was not stunning looking, a little like a young Steve McQueen.

Over the next week of the exhibition, she realised that the young man was indeed T. Stewart, and that his name was Tim. She was desperate to think of something to say to engage him in conversation, but she was even more desperate to have the picture of the birch trees in the autumn sunshine. The more she saw it the more she loved it.

The exhibition finished, and the girls started at their new school. The girl didn’t forget Tim Stewart and the birch trees, and occasionally she saw his photo in the local paper. Years went by, many, many years and the girl moved away from the town, married had children, and then unexpectedly for various reasons she and her family found themselves living back in the town. Some years after they settled happily in their new home she was reading the local paper and there was the name ‘Tim Stewart’, who was holding an exhibition of his paintings.

The painting! She could now afford the painting… but of course it wouldn’t still be there so many years after that summer exhibition, it would have been sold, or lost, or thrown out… he would have progressed and changed as an artist and probably never painted pictures of trees any more. Well, she would go and have a look at his work, go and see what she thought of his painting now.

To be continued…

Tim Stewart isn’t the real name of the artist by the way!


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