‘I expected an LP, but it was a watercolour map of Melbourne’ – the Christmas present I’ll never forget | Painting

by AryanArtnews
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‘I expected an LP, but it was a watercolour map of Melbourne’ – the Christmas present I’ll never forget | Painting

Eeven though I was excited about them at the time, I can’t remember most of my Christmas presents. I either lost them, ate them or grew out of them. But I will never forget the painting my late grandmother gave me when I was 10.

I was disappointed with the gift at the time. I was young and expected the giant rectangle to be an LP or some video games, but when I tore off the wrapping paper, I found a watercolor map of Melbourne, Australia, where I was born.

Grandma was artistic. Even bedtime was an adventure in her creative mind. She would tell me and my brother stories about four friendly dinosaurs, Hat, Skat, Minto and Bongo, who would visit us from our backyard through a secret tunnel. She wove these yarns until our eyelids grew heavy, then she took our heads, lifted them up and pounded our pillows, creating a “magic hole” where worries and other night terrors could not reach us, then laid our heads down to rest.

She was from Liverpool, and when she wasn’t creating dinosaur fantasies, she told us stories about the blitz and the terrifying nights she spent in an Anderson shelter while the Luftwaffe’s doodlebugs painted the sky above the Albert Docks crimson has. I’m biased, but my grandmother was a brilliant woman. She bowled reverse swing for Lancashire Women’s Cricket Club, and one of her performances even made it into the Liverpool Echo. She won a scholarship to the University of Liverpool and later became a teacher, an amazing achievement for a working-class woman in the 1950s.

Even though she was a scouser from a council estate, you couldn’t tell if you’d met her unless you crossed her – which, as a certified little fool, I often did. Then it was when Ricky Tomlinson commandeered her vocal chords. “Well, you little coward!” she screamed as I did something unspeakably naughty like get into the trunk of her car while she was driving, making her think I was missing until I burst out of the trunk when she opened it to go shopping pick up

She taught geography and art, which may explain why she painted maps later in life. She would sketch maps of the US and Europe to scale in painstaking detail and then color them with watercolors. They were so impressive that her family and friends would “commission” her to paint maps of their favorite places. By the time she got to me, I think she was tired of devoting so much time to these projects, so I only received a map of Melbourne rather than an expansive map of Australia.

I was hoping to dig up the painting to show it here. It must have been lost during one of the dozens of house moves I’ve made over the years. My grandmother’s painting is no longer with me – but just like her, I will never forget it.

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