Have You Died Yet?


I devour problem pages and remember a an unsettling letter from a widower. One Christmas his wife was in hospital in a private room, unconscious and dying. One night near Christmas he was sat in darkness in a corner of the room waiting for the inevitable. The door opened and a nurse wearing tinsel reindeer antlers on her head approached the bed. Bending over the dying woman and unaware of her husband in the darkness she said, "Have you died yet?" Touching the woman's arm and feeling warmth she said "Not yet" and then left the room.


Those four words haunted the man for years and he was writing to the Agony Aunt in the hope he could exorcise the anguish. I keep these letters (scan them onto my hard disc) and this is in my archives somewhere.


With twenty minutes to fill and a white canvas to kill I thought I'd do a quick painting of the man sat in the dark. This was done with a knife, a brush and a quick pace. I just let the mood take me and smeared paint over the canvas then found myself using a knife to shape the silhouette of the man's head. It was finished so quickly I only took two or three photos.