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Simon Thomas Braiden
Artwork materials: 
Artwork size: 
46.5 x 40 cm
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    If you are not satisfied with the artwork then you have 14 days after the date of collection to cancel your purchase by emailing info@mallgalleries.com.

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Dame Maureen Lipman on being painted by Simon Thomas Braiden:

I am an amateur artist. I paint, I stick butterflies on birthday cards, I overwhelm my family and friends with Ipad pictures and I am seldom without charcoal under my fingernails. You would go a long way to find a cast in a play I have appeared in, who doesn’t have a hand-drawn, terribly witty card or a fraying drinks coaster emblazoned with my show-offery. The smell of linseed trails before and aft of me and heaven protect a piece of plain wood furniture in my vicinity because it will be sprayed lilac before it gets through the door. I have even tried working in stained glass and I will be back pulling lead and soldering as soon as I’m allowed to. Hours pass, days pass while message pads by the phone get over-doodled to their death and stencils start to crawl up the sides of most of my possessions.

In my life, by mistake, the day before his exhibition opened I encountered David Hockney who showed me round his visionary trees  and I once had the temerity to ask Anthony Gormley if he would dance with me through his standing bronzes singing ‘Must you dance every dance with the same fortunate man?’ Humphrey Ocean painted me for the Ferens Art Gallery in Hull and when I went to show my partner the finished work I found it in the canteen, curling up from the steam. I love a preview in a small gallery off Lissom Grove or in Shoreditch and even the walled nonsense in the Bayswater Road will garner a proper inspection from me on a wet Sunday. I would willingly eat carpet to walk through the doors of the Royal Academy or the Wallace Collection right now.

So imagine my delight when, having been bumped out of my reserved seat on a train to my moonlighting job in Dev’s corner shop on the cobbled Street of Coronation, I found myself sitting next to an artist. This artist, Simon Braiden, who has painted this incredible likeness of his travelling companion. We began a conversation that runs on to this day. We seemed to have a great deal in common and a view of the world similarly askew from most. We agreed to visit some Manchester galleries on my days off and I loved being shown around one as opinionated as me. We had cosy dinners with Simon’s partner Kirsten and on one such occasion Simon suggested he might like to paint me.

‘Oh no. You wouldn’t. ‘I said.’ Honestly, I’m impossible to do..I’ve got no bones.’

He laughed and denied what was patently the truth…’I’ve got such a little thin face ‘ I said with the certainty of one who has seen too many hard angles on multi-camera TV Sitcoms and looked deep into too many mirrors with light bulbs round them,’ there is a reason I’m not a film star Simon. I’m all odd angles –  cameras grind to a halt avoiding my nose…honestly love,  you’d go mad.’

In the end I agreed with the proviso that if he painted me, I could paint him. Which I did from memory and a smartphone snap,  constantly and in all mediums including oil pastels for the first time, for the next five months. He sketched away, whenever we met,  watched me keenly whenever we met, took a few photos, and bunkered down. The resulting painting, which you see today was emailed to me after lockdown one and two prevented Simon from giving me the formal presentation he wanted, in the presence of my family.

To say that I love this painting doesn’t come near it. It dazzles me. It is complex and simple. It gets me. It is sad and whimsical. It is thoughtful smart and a bit tired. It is prescient. It is everything I think I am and would like to be. The use of the shawl, a present from my old friend Julia McKenzie was an afterthought because I didn’t have many clothes with me in Manchester as I return to London for weekends and don’t keep a wardrobe there. I think it enhances my Jewishness and acts like a carapace to all the other characters inside me. I truly believe that Simon captured my soul. I am so proud to have played my part in bringing this inspired and meticulous artist to Mall Galleries and to a wider public.

Simon Thomas Braiden

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