Thursday, 7 March 2013

Me and My Brother

The other night I saw a Belgium movie called The Giants about three boys, two of whom were brothers. It was a simple film. The young teens had been left to fend for themselves and were trying to survive as best they could. This involved, among other things, lots of silliness, swearing, wrecking, ransacking, smoking, fighting and some farting. It was a very touching film.

The movie made me wonder what my three boys would be like, if left to their own devices. A terrifying thought! It also made me wonder about the complex relationship of siblings.

I have one brother who is five years older than me. We have a complicated relationship. There is no doubt that we both love each other, but we are very different people. Our parents' "dysfunctional" marriage meant that, like the boys in the movie, we were often left to figure things out for ourselves. We had to grow up fast. The legacy of those years, I believe, has affected our ability to be close now. Both of our parents are dead, so my brother is the only witness to my childhood.

I did a painting from a photograph I had of my brother and me, standing knee-deep in water at our grandmother's cottage. There was something about the way we were standing that made me want to paint it.

My brother is probably aged 10 in the photo, so I'm about 5. I am wearing a red two-piece bathing suit, with my back arched in that little girl way, tummy sticking out. I was no lightweight when I was little! I have a stunned mullet expression on my face. Very flattering! I think my mother must have been cutting my hair at the time. If she wasn't, she should have fired the hairdresser! I am pale and freckled. My brother is lean and brown. He is looking directly at the camera. His expression is confident, bemused. (I know he is just as insecure as I am, but doesn't show it. Still doesn't!) The angle of his body is what fascinates me the most. He is arching to the side, one hip thrust outward. It is such a boy pose, angular and athletic at the same time.

I sold the painting in a charity art show. The woman who bought it said there was something about the painting that reminded her of growing up and going to the beach. She said the painting brought back happy childhood memories! I was really thrilled that she bought the painting. And I was grateful she shared her story with me. I hope she has the painting on her wall somewhere. I like to think of it hanging in her house ... me and my brother!

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