The aspect of power heightens when British Royalty keep rolling out into scenes from her works. Henry VIII, Elizabeth I, Victoria and the present Queen all crop up frequently. The prominent feature of power is an abundance of wealth. Paying homage to the Dutch painters of the 16th century, Pin doesn’t try to include symbols to personify objects and their significance in today’s world. The aim is simply to remind that the royals are just ordinary people like you and me, but with power and wealth that most of us could only dream of. She paints them with special buckets adorned with gems and jewelry. ‘’In real life they always wear buckets too – just like the rest of us. In fact, perhaps more so. Their power and wealth creates a bucket’’ she notices. Pin explains: ‘we never see the real person, just their crowns and the trappings of royalty. So take away the crown and put a bucket on the head. What is the difference? Who are they really? For instance, what would Prince Charles be like if he was just an ordinary working man who lived in a council house without any of the trappings of royalty, or if he was unemployed? Who can ever get near enough to these people to lift their buckets and find out? Nobody, I suspect.’’ The only person who escapes, it seems, the curse of the bucket it Mao Tse Tung. ‘’It is true, I don’t paint him with a bucket,” admits Pin. “But then Mao is different.’’ She goes on to explain that during the Cultural Revolution he was likened to God in China. When religion was banned, the Chinese people worshipped Mao and were taught that he had the answers to all their prayers. That was their religion. The Red Book was used instead of the Bible and was supposed to have the answer to everything. Pin goes on to explain: ‘‘you don’t need to put a bucket on Mao. His face is already a bucket. Nobody knows the real Mao!’’ This rings true with all the leaders, kings and queens and questions our need as a society for authority. Do you we leave the power in the hands of others? Or do we take our lives into our own hands and make a pretty good shot at it? This sounds much too idealistic and ambitious, but so do our expectations of those who are handed that power – and what we expect them to do with it. The dialogue between an interviewer and a painter has fascinated me. Mostly, interviews are surrounded by publicists and PR people. The nature of magazines also produces focus points of the questions. I was interested in curating an exhibition, which merges the worlds of paintings and words and puts them next to each other. Paintings are understood by all humans regardless of their language and yet, words are restricted by cultural misinterpretations and limited by mentalities. However, symbolism constructed within shapes and colours, which signify differences among various traditions, also separates the viewers based on backgrounds, beliefs and cultural orientations. Therefore, in that sense they are both equally challenging mediums – both opposing each other and aliasing. I shared this concept with Pin and she challenged this right back: ‘’ Sometimes painting is more immediate; you don’t have to sit down and read something. It is there in front of you to look at. More in your face, perhaps. Yes, you can turn away. But you have already seen it and therefore it has had an impact. With a book, you can read one page and then throw it away. The rest of what the author is trying to say, his message, is lost on you.“ Perhaps painting is more powerful, too, because there is no language barrier. A painting can reach our across boundaries, across cultures and across language. Yes, a book or a poem can be translated into a different language so other people can read it. But when that happens – no matter how good the translator – it is changed, and perhaps something is lost in the process. “A painting, though, is the same in every language. Everybody sees the same image. Of course they may have their own interpretation of that image and of the message or meaning behind it. That, however, is not necessarily a bad thing. There is no right or wrong way to interpret my paintings. “For instance I love to watch how children react when they see one of my paintings. Invariably they think the Bucketmen are cute. They see them as being happy and sweet. Then of course they wonder why they are wearing buckets. And they wonder whether they should wear one too. The reaction from adults is different. Some grown-ups also see them as fun. But others see them as menacing and frightening. Perhaps the observer is really seeing inside himself or herself when he or she looks at the Bucket Men. And if that makes them think – both about themselves and about the world – then that is surely not a bad thing.’’ Perhaps, adults see the beyond the little caricature men and vivid colour displays. Either way, if the art work challenges and provokes food for thought it has succeeded in its purpose.
About the author
Christine Barnett went to a boarding school in West Sussex, England. She is fluent in 2 languages, a world traveler and a keen skier. Christine began writing and composing at a very young age. Her grandfather, an accomplished poet who has recently published his 8th book, has inspired and encouraged Christine’s passion for writing . She enjoys character broadening hobbies like oenology, Russian literature, learning new languages, writing about ART, fashion and culture. Christine Barnett