I was just thinking…………

…………..about the kaleidoscope of colour, shape, texture and depth which makes up that most complex of form – humanity.

Like little paint tubes all essentially similar in shape but twisted and bent by human touch, pummelled and pressed and probed till all their colours and hues and textures have been forced out, we humans too have one fundamental shape, one outside appearance. Until our cap is off, our image uncovered, and we start to get squeezed. Then out come all our diversities, our surprises, our delights, and of course those inevitable unpleasantries that are bound to dribble forth, often depending on how we’ve been twisted and bent along the way.

I have a favourite place to observe and experience this smorgasbord of human nature. It’s the Melville Markets early on Sunday mornings. It’s my weekly treat to myself and I look forward to my Sundays with relish. While the rest of the household sleeps, I rise before six and creep out into the fresh, still dawn. Except for a few stalwart figures punishing themselves along the footpaths, the suburbs are quiet and the streets are empty.

But then I turn into the Melville shopping centre, and like picking up the remote and turning on the TV, the scene suddenly comes to life. A hum of lively chatter accompanies the bustling activity that bubbles and spills into every available car bay and even at such an early hour I’m lucky to find somewhere to park.

I toss my entry coin into the big charity bucket and my fun begins. Strolling from bay to bay, I peruse the wares, the sellers and the buyers. Currency takes on a different value here. One dollar is like ten. Ten might as well be a hundred.
Some of the people are fascinating, some not. Some are genuine, some not. Some are kind, some not. But they’re all a confusion of noise and colour, bluster and dazzle, buzz and laughter and joviality - and I love it. There are winners and losers, honest souls and chancers, bargains and bulldust. Some people are selling antiques they think are junk, others are selling junk they hope you think are antiques. I’ve witnessed some colourful quarrelling and some hard-nosed haggling. You get brassy buyers who don’t want a fake and surly sellers who just want their take!

You can furnish a baby nursery, landscape a garden, stock up a toolbox or fill a hundred bookshelves. All you need is an eye for quality, the love of a bargain, and an insatiable intrigue for human nature. You also need trousers with lots of pockets for your glasses your keys and your mobile. Free hands are essential. You need comfortable shoes (also essential) and some cash (just in case).

I often go home with my hands empty and my pockets still full, but last week I got lucky. I found the most awesome William Duffield print. Now there’s a realist artist! The painting is called ‘Autumn Splendor’ and it’s so perfect it makes my teeth tingle.

But, as delightful as the print is, that’s not what I got lucky with. It’s the frame! A magnificent, exquisitely carved metal frame about 100cm2. I got it for a song…. well, no I didn’t, actually, the guy would never have given it to me if I’d had to sing for it, believe me!

Anyway, I cruised home with a big smile, my treasure firmly seat-belted beside me and with my head full of ideas for what I would paint that would suit this gorgeous frame. Then I wondered whether the frame could possibly be an antique. Maybe, maybe not. But then I thought…… What the heck, Lori, by the time you finish a painting for it, it will be!


Lori Spencer