Artist: Felice Zhukov
Last Friday afternoon while painting in my studio I got a phone call from my family letting me know that my favourite family pet had died. Ted the standard poodle was my dog, my family have always had a lot of animals (cats/birds/hamsters/guinea pigs/chickens etc) and although some of these have technically been mine I never felt any sort of spiritual connection with them.
Ted was different, from the moment he bounced into my life I felt like he was a kindred spirit, he had a keen brain and a carefree attitude, I could cuddle him for hours and in my heart I felt like he loved me as much as I loved him. Its hard to describe this kind of love to anyone who hasn’t had it, it seems silly and entirely constructed by the human mind. Perhaps it is, all I know is I’m not a particularly sentimental person, nor am I what you’d call a dog person, I see other peoples pictures of their pets on facebook etc and usually am filled with cynicism or indifference.
But I loved Ted.
Just before we left the family home to come back to London after Christmas I sat with Ted on the new (old) sofa my parents had acquired from an aunt, specially for him to sleep on. He was nervous because he never got to sit on the sofa and kept twitching and jumping off, I kept coaxing him back on, finally when I got him to relax we sat there for some time together. I felt his sticky curls under my fingers as I stroked his head, his warm stinky breath gently tickled my knee, I felt complete. This was the last time I saw him as the next day we hurried out of the house to drive back to London in time to drop off our rental car, I didn’t even really get to say goodbye properly, it never crossed my mind that I would never see him again.
Now he’s gone.
Of course everything living must die eventually and this is not my first brush with death. Many of our pets have passed away, some eaten by foxes or victims of disease, some of natural causes. I have seen my Granny just after she passed and sat with one of our dogs as she was put to sleep, watching the life drain from her eyes on the vets operating table. Life and Death are intermingled and constantly in a state of flux, some cultures embrace death, others desperately run from it. Personally I want to expose myself to it as much as possible in an attempt to become less afraid of my guaranteed demise.
But I’m grieving now in a way I never expected and I want to be able to do something for Ted posthumously that will soothe MY pain (of course its entirely selfish).
I believe immortality can be achieved through art (in its many splendid forms). For instance Marilyn Monroe still lives in the hearts and minds of her many fans, some so young they weren’t alive in her lifetime and Gaudi’s eternal spirit still runs through his incredible accomplishments (this is most palpable in the Sagrada Familia).
So here is Ted drawn as a Murti Icon, its my way of saying goodbye to a creature that meant so much to me in life. I hope this image travels far and wide and that Ted can live on through my art. He was my special little guy and I miss him with all my heart.
My mum posted a blog about him HERE for anyone interested.
This feature replaces my usual ‘Creatures from The Urban Jungle’ piece, which will resume as normal next month.