Following a story titled: “Religion-inspired art: ‘Christ in the House of His Parents’” that reviewed a painting by John Everett Millais, this article works in reverse. Instead of looking at a painting in the rearview mirror and trying to figure out the artist’s intentions, let’s consider in present time how a new painting came into being.
The new painting is a watercolor titled “Sister Wendy Beckett winter roach fishing near her caravan home in Quidenham, Norfolk, England inspired by Henri Matisse, Goldfish.”
Who is Sister Wendy Beckett? She was mentioned in the “Religion-inspired art” article because she is one of the most eloquent art historians of our time. She had a television series that was aired on PBS and had high viewership. She lives as a hermit under the protection of the Carmelite nuns at their monastery at Quidenham, Norfolk. At 84 years old, she continues to research and write about art. Until recently, she lived in an abandoned caravan (house trailer). Her supporters have given to her a new mobile home.
Now, you can read all about Sister Wendy Beckett and it is certain that she appreciates people purchasing her art history books of which there are many.
In trying to learn more about Sister Wendy, as an artist, I wanted to see where she lives. I used Google Earth and traveled to her monastery at Quidenham. Next, I tried to imagine her life there, figuring that she might just do some of things local people do.
I thought to myself, I bet she likes fishing. There is a river nearby and fishing is popular in the area. In England they refer to freshwater fishing as “course fishing”. The season is cold now, but that doesn’t stop the locals who enjoy fishing for a species called “roach” fish. “Roach” comes from the French word roche that stands for “rock”. So, the red-eyed fish is like a rockfish of some sort. They are plentiful in Europe.
I investigated to learn more about roach fishing and determined that it is a sport requiring multiple poles and suitable pole holders, bait buckets, and seating for the fisherman. It requires knowledge about baits as well as pole fishing that is more like cane pole fishing in America.
Let’s say Sister Wendy Beckett, who we know is resourceful, decides to fish for her own food. She has a recipe for poached roach fish stew as that has been popular in Great Britain for ages.
What paintings might Sister Wendy consider in this context? I bet that she would consider Henri Matisse and his goldfish, perhaps.
Therefore, the artist in me envisioned Sister Wendy resting at the water’s edge near her caravan home fishing for roach and upon catching them placing them in a bowl similar to that depicted by Matisse. There you have the composition and the explanation.
Here is a demonstration of roach fishing.