'The Key', oil on linen, 20 x 18 inches, 2012, collection
of the artist
My son Daniel was diagnosed with leukemia when he was four,
and we had two desperate years where we battled to save
his life. When we finally got him home after his bone marrow
transplant, I started this painting, which I had for so
long wanted to paint. He was still very sick and we were
unsure if he'd make it through.
it happened, he recovered fully, and the painting (done from
life over the following year) evolved as he returned to health.
For me, however, the meaning of the painting is still tied
up with the alternative outcome. It's both a celebration of
his release from medical confinement, and the picture I would
have wanted to have if we'd lost him.
wanted to bring him right up to the picture plane to make
the illusion of life, of access, as strong as possible. The
key dramatizes the issue of access, with a keyhole in the
frame to complete the illusion.
I was able to give a copy of the picture to the Childrens'
Hospital, and it now hangs at the entrance of the bone marrow
ward. Those who enter will probably note the scar on his chest
that marks where the Hickman line entered, and understand
that this child is like those inside, but an escapee. Maybe
it will give them hope.
a public level, at the level of someone ignorant of the back-story,
it’s still about access. A boy at the threshold of two
worlds, with the promise of access, with a key. That’s
what I try to offer in all my paintings.