Nicky & Dad

Nicky & Dad,October 2022
Oil on Canvas, 

Families. Complex. So many things I could say about this painting. But I’m not going to say anything, because it’s actually not that complex. I love you guys.

But wait there is a context here! My sister, Nicky, is disabled having contracted meningitis as an 18 month old. My mother and father have cared for my sister ever since. My father now cares for my mother as well. He is very English and very stoic, something which, perhaps, comes across in this painting.

Since her early teens my sister has lived weekdays in a facility run by an organisation called Hartley Lifecare. My dad has been involved in the organisation as a volunteer since then.

Each year Hartley holds a couple of fund raising events including the event depicted here, a Great Gatsby themed Ball.

In this painting Nicky, who is 54, looks younger, as she does in real life. She is, in some ways, both a middle-aged, ailing woman and also a perpetual child. That’s how she is often viewed by others, but there’s more to her than that.

The painting has a magical, warm, but other worldy charm and acts as a good background for depicting Nicky. She looks like a cheeky little fairy, which is how I would describe her personality as well. She is also quite beautiful. I haven’t seen many people with disabilities depicted in paintings. 

In this painting, I wanted to pay homage to my Dad, my sister, their relationship to each other and to Hartley Lifecare as a ‘disability services provider’ over a life time. The lexicon of ‘disability service provider’ does not adequately account for the complexity of the relationship. 

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