Wednesday, 22 November 2017

The Hare has a new home

In August 2009, at a private showing of the Marwell International Wildlife Art Society at Marwell Hall, in Marwell Wildlife Park in Hampshire, I bought several artworks. One of them, costing £150, was a hare sculpture by Jacqueline Darnell. He looked like a bronze, but was actually made of jesmonite. I thought him striking, and wanted him for my recently-inherited home. If you like, as a first gesture towards making my own mark there.

In fact I also bought a smaller ceramic hare. Here they both are, in a photo from October 2009.

The larger jesmonite hare soon found his permanent display position in the small window in my lounge, next to my front door. He remained there until two days ago. Here he is, in a shot taken just a few days ago.

As you can see, he was roughly-sculpted. The artist's intention was clearly to capture all the alertness of an easily-spooked field animal, and not to demonstrate obsessive skill in the reproduction of fine detail. And yet this was most definitely a proper hare in every important physical respect. And he had personality too - not a human one, to be sure, but the personality of wild creature, free and independent, owned by no-one, wary of human kind, and liable to dart away. He seemed permanently ready to spring off somewhere.

At night, there was something else. The Hare's silhouette showed in the window. You'd notice the ears especially.

This wasn't an endearing and lovable piece, not like my china Wemyss cat Rosie had, from the very start of our acquaintance, been endearing and lovable - with her smiling expression that made me feel happy. But the Hare was a Presence in my home, a very distinctive addition to my surroundings.

A few people thought the Hare was forbidding, if not positively Satanic. Really? I didn't see how he could be thought malevolent. He was festive enough last Christmas:

Others liked him very much. And my next-door neighbour and friend Jackie yearned to own him. She begged me to leave the Hare to her in my next Will. I agreed, and meanwhile made Jackie's request clear to my executrix in a letter. That was a while back. More recently - three years ago - I decided to do something else entirely. Jackie's sixtieth birthday was on the horizon. I said to her that, as a special sixtieth birthday present, I would give her the Hare. She was overjoyed. She still had three years to wait, but one day - not now impossibly far off - the Hare would be hers. That day arrived on the 20th November.

I took the Hare down from its window on the 18th, for some final pictures before carefully wrapping him up. Here he is, on the Welsh dresser.

And next in my study, ready for wrapping. I'd got out the MIWAS catalogue, and was going to photograph parts of it and email those shots to Jackie, to make the provenance of the Hare clear.

I had a very suitable card ready too.

I'd bought silver wrapping paper, but didn't use it in the end. I'd acquired some pink tissue paper and bubble wrap when purchasing some dinner plates for my Goose Dinner next month (that's for another post!), and decided to use that instead. It was with a slight pang that I saw the Hare gradually get covered up, and then disappear entirely. Although he'd been freely promised to Jackie, and although there was no strong bond between us, I was sorry to see him go. He'd been a constant companion at home for eight important years of my life.

I let him sleep (alertly) in his window one last time.

Next morning, it was the Big Presentation. 

Happy 60th Birthday, Jackie! 

She carefully removed the wrapping. Jackie and Kevin's two dogs (Amber and Tia) watched these proceedings, fascinated.

She was delighted. And I'm certain that the Hare immediately appreciated Jackie and Kevin's livelier domestic environment, complete with Alexa to talk to. He quickly looked right at home.

Me, I'm easily over any small pangs of loss, and simply glad that I had the ability to give a friend something she really, really wanted on a significant birthday. Giving is better than receiving in my view - certainly more satisfying, when the gift gives so much pleasure. 

Back at my place, I had an empty window sill to fill. The small hare I still had wasn't up to the job. 

Very well, a replacement - not necessarily another hare - will have to be found. Maybe not immediately, but during 2018 or 2019 certainly. Another Wemyss cat, perhaps, but a big one...?

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