11. Patchwork Dads – Ai Weiwei

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Picture the scene. Berlin, August 2015. It had been a long time since Germany has seen this kind of heat, and the place was swarming with wasps.

We had rented a flat in Mitte for a week, and arrived a few days earlier. So far, we had eaten burgers for every meal and I was not happy about this. I wanted something green.

It had been six hours since we last ate. Everyone was hungry when we stumbled upon Tommi’s Burger Joint (up until recently, the best burger Mr. S had ever tasted, by the way). I did not want to go in, but, thankfully, we did.

The place was empty except for a woman, her young son, a long-haired youth at the counter (appearing to be the only employee), and, a man customising his own sauce at the get-your-own-sauce area. I did not see this man. I was in a grumpy mood and decided that I didn’t want anything to eat, even though I did want something to eat. I went straight to a seat, whilst the rest of my family went to the counter to select their burgers. Again.

A few minutes later, my son came over, “I think that man (sauce-customiser) over there must be famous. The man who works here has just asked him for a selfie. He was mixing loads of sauces together to make his own sauce. I am going to do that, when he has finished”. He was very excited by this prospect.

I looked up. Gobsmacked. It was Ai WeiWei. But it can’t be him because he has no passport and can’t leave China. So I tell my son it is someone who is the absolute double of Ai WeiWei. He does not want to disappoint the burger server, so he is pretending to be him. Remember those sunflower seeds you filled your pockets with at the Tate? He didn’t.

Mr. S arrives at the table. “Who is that? The lad who works here is sure making a fuss”. Ai WeiWei had still not managed to get back to his table. “It’s someone posing as Ai WeiWei”, I say.

Mr. S annoyingly accuses me of saying the first famous Chinese person that comes into my head. I am insulted. I love Ai WeiWei, and once spent three months looking at a giant portrait of him. I told Mr. S that Ken Hom is the first person that comes into my head, actually. He is American and an honorary Brit, though. I wondered if this was casual racism.

“I don’t know what Ai WeiWei looks like”, says Mr S.

“Exactly like that”, I tell him, and we all look over.

Ai WeiWei looks at us and gives us a big smile. Him and the German lad share a little laugh. They think we are wondering who he is. He goes to sit with his son and partner. They enjoy their burgers in peace.

When we got back to the flat, and wifi, I discover Ai WeiWei is in Berlin and all over Instagram. Graciously having his photograph taken with anyone who asked. Big smiles on all.

Henceforth, burgers in our house may be taken ‘The Ai WeiWei Way’, if so desired.

This is the eleventh square in my patchwork of dads. It is made from discarded books, magazines, postcards and junk mail. It is made from the actual papers, I have not printed or copied anything. There are sixteen squares in total. You can see the whole piece here.

Ai WeiWei is the father of Lao.

The square was cut from a Royal Academy leaflet. The photograph is by Harry Pearce/ Pentagram.

All of my work is individually numbered, this piece is 798. It can be found in my shop.

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12. Patchwork Dads – Pepito’s Father

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Pepito is Madeline’s friend and neighbour. Pepito’s father is the Spanish Ambassador. All are characters from Madeline in London (which I have already written about, here) by the wonderful Ludwig Bemelmans.

The patch is cut from an old copy of this book.

This is the twelfth square in my patchwork of dads. It is made from discarded books, magazines, postcards and junk mail. It is made from the actual papers, I have not printed or copied anything. There are sixteen squares in total. You can see the whole piece here.

All of my work is individually numbered, this piece is 798. It can be found in my shop.

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10. Patchwork Dads – Damien Hirst

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Damien Hirst, father of some children.

I have a story about Damien Hirst.

In 1986, fresh off the National Express coach, I went to enrol at Goldsmiths’ College. I entered a large hall filled with tables. Each table had a ‘subject’ sign above it, and a queue of students waiting to enroll on their chosen course. The table labelled ‘ART’ had no queue, and the admin person had gone AWOL. I stood at the table, and waited. A few seconds later someone came and stood behind me. He tapped me on the shoulder and asked if this was ‘Art’. The sign was huge. I told him it was, and turned away. He tapped me on the shoulder again and told me he liked my jacket. I thanked him, as I looked down my nose in a snooty fashion, and turned away again. Actually, that was a great jacket, I made it myself, wish I still had it. It was made from denim scraps. I had sewn daisies onto it. Next, Shoulder-Tapper ¬†went behind the table, climbed onto a wheeled-blackboard and proceeded to ride around the room. I vowed to keep away from this prat. It was Hirst, Turner-Prize-Winning-Sunday-Times-Rich-List, Hirst. No prat.

A few years ago, I was at work, (I have mentioned my zero-hours-living-wage job before, the one where I wander around a big not-to-be-named-for-fear-of-stalkers London gallery) and in front of me was the Jonathan Yeo portrait of Damien. It’s a great portrait. Massive. It puts you in mind of Henry VIII on his throne. Many came to pay homage. Not looking down your nose at me now are you? That’s what he was saying. And indeed, I was not.

This is the tenth square in my patchwork of dads. It is made from discarded books, magazines, postcards and junk mail. It is made from the actual papers, I have not printed or copied anything. There are sixteen squares in total. You can see the whole piece here.

I cut the square from a postcard I bought from the Tate years ago. I was going to sew some abuse onto it, but never did. In the end, if anyone from my year were to succeed, I’m glad it was him. He wasn’t bothered about being cool. The photograph was taken in 1999 by Steve Pyke.

All of my work is individually numbered, this piece is 798. It can be found in my shop.

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9. Patchwork Dads – Humphrey Bogart

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Humphrey Bogart, player of the hard-boiled cynic who ultimately shows his noble side.

He appeared in more than seventy-five feature films.

His mother, Maud, was a militant suffragette, and (according to Wikipedia) studied with Whistler.

Bogart became a first-time father at the age of forty-nine, when Lauren Bacall gave birth to Stephen, in 1949. Three years later a daughter was born, Lesley Howard Bogart. Named after Lesley Howard, as it says on the tin.

This is the ninth square in my patchwork of dads. It is made from discarded books, magazines, postcards and junk mail. It is made from the actual papers, I have not printed or copied anything. There are sixteen squares in total. You can see the whole piece here.

The square was cut from a picture from the film, Dark Passage (1947), in which he stars with Bacall. Cinematography by Sidney Hickox. The image belongs to The Kobal Collection. I cut it from Hollywood Guide To Romance by Myrna P Barnum (friend of the stars). Ebury Press, 2002.

All of my work is individually numbered, this piece is 798. It can be found in my shop.

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8. Patchwork Dads – Clark Gable

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Clark Gable, King of Hollywood, father of Judy and John.

Gable died in Los Angeles on 16th November, 1960. His son, John, was born four months later, in the same hospital.

Gable’s other child, Judy, was born thirty-six years earlier. Her mother was the actress Loretta Young. In 2015, Young’s daughter-in-law said that Young had told her the pregnancy was a result of rape, which, of course, may or may not be true.

This is the eighth square in my patchwork of dads. It is made from discarded books, magazines, postcards and junk mail. It is made from the actual papers, I have not printed or copied anything. This little square is 67 years old. There are sixteen squares in total. You can see the whole piece here.

The square was cut from a flood damaged book called Hollywood Album. Published in 1958 by Sampson Low, Marston and Co. Ltd. Edited by Ivy Crane Wilson. There is a list of credits below, not sure if the photographer gets a mention.

All of my work is individually numbered, this piece is 798. It can be found in my shop.

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6. Patchwork Dads – On The Beach

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“The great enlivening force of these August fortnights in a bungalow lent us by a family friend was my father. It was he who bought us water-pistols from the shop, laid on provisions for “jip nights” (a pagan custom from his own early life that involved staying up late and gorging yourself on cheap sweets), finessed excursions down the coast to the slot-machine palaces at Mundesley, or planked down hopeful half-crowns on Terry Wogan’s morning selection. And it was with him, aged perhaps seven or eight, one hot summer’s afternoon when the rest of the family were somewhere else, that I caught the fish.” DJ Taylor. Taken from an interview in The Independent.

The man in the square, as far as I know, is a fictitious father of three children, and husband of a fictitious wife. He was painted in 1937 by Alfred Lambart for Great Western Railway. See below for full poster. Taken from National Railway Museum Diary 2015. Published by Frances Lincoln Limited, 2014.

This is the sixth square in my patchwork of dads. It is made from discarded books, magazines, postcards and junk mail. It is made from the actual papers, I have not printed or copied anything. There are sixteen squares in total. You can see the whole piece here.

All of my work is individually numbered, this piece is 798. It can be found in my shop.

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5. Patchwork Dads – Henri Matisse

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“An artist should never be a prisoner of himself, prisoner of style, prisoner of reputation, prisoner of success.” Henri Matisse, father of Pierre, Jean and Marguerite.

This is the fifth square in my patchwork of dads. It is made from discarded books, magazines, postcards and junk mail. It is made from the actual papers, I have not printed or copied anything. There are sixteen squares in total. You can see the whole piece here.

The square was cut from a Tate Modern Leaflet, 2014. Henri Matisse: The Cut-Outs. Photo by Lydia Delectorskaya at Hotel Regina, Nice, c1952.

All of my work is individually numbered, this piece is 798. It can be found in my shop.

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