The Office


MRS EVERYMAN: A gloomy place to work, this. More like a
prison than a workplace. But they’re certainly generous with
their hot drinks!
CRITIC: It’s a bold idea to fill those Victorian bay windows
with giant-sized mugs. What did you have in mind regarding
the symbolism here?
PAINTER: This is based on a real location. I was passing one
dull morning and peering in through one of the windows I
glimpsed a bored clerk, who looked like he’d been sitting
there in this dingy office for several hundred years, his only
pleasure a steaming mug of coffee.
CRITIC: So, these three enormous mugs, which, in replacing
glass panes, deny the viewer any sense of what is within, are
representative of the lack of engaging work that goes on
inside, the mood of the interior writ-large?
PAINTER: It’s not that we are prevented from seeing inside by
denial, but that we do not need to see beyond what is
expressed by the mugs. The sense of a mundane routine
being played out behind a concealing wall.
MRS EVERYMAN: Still looks like a prison to me. Anyway, if
we’re saying it’s an office, like it says on that Hammer Horror
notice, I bet I can guess that’s the secretary’s mug on the left,
all slim and spotless.
CRITIC: For once I find myself agreeing – partly. Are the
coffee stains in any way a comment on the way a life has
been soiled or corrupted by routine? Rather in the manner of
a visual version of one of T.S. Eliot’s Preludes?
PAINTER: I think that’s too extreme, and also a little
contemptuous. What I see is that each mug shows its owner
to have left his or her individual mark, their only mark, as I
imagine there is nothing else in the office to distinguish one
person from another. It’s leaving your mark very literally in
the case of the coffee stain.
CRITIC: Let’s talk about the building, as Mrs Everyman has
mentioned the prison-like appearance. The grilled gate is
most uninviting and the architecture overall, although clearly
Victorian villa, is stuck in a time warp as a workplace.
MRS EVERYMAN: I can imagine typewriters clanking away in
there and piles of loose papers strewn on desks. Definitely
PAINTER: You’re right, it’s exactly that mood of lost hopes
and dreams, a growing resistance to change as routine
stealthily takes up residence, conservatism in the extreme. I
suppose I’m quite glad I’m an artist!

Year                                 2022
Materials                       Oil on canvas

Additional information

Dimensions Height 80 cm x Width 60 cm x Depth 2 cm.