One Minute To Midnight

 

Exhibitor in 2019 BP Portrait Award

selected from more than 2,500 entries from 84 countries.

Growing up Dad was a strong character both physically and emotionally I did this painting because it was quite a shock to see how diminished he was in later years. He looked so small and vulnerable and I deliberately made the painting look grey and bleak. I hope there is a quiet dignity to it all though.

 

Bill Whittaker - Gloriously Irritating

 

Selected for Sunday Times Watercolour 

exhibition 2018

 

Dad was 92 and could be gloriously irritating and curmudgeonly which made him feel happy, I found this very annoying. I had developed a technique over the years to deal with this. I would start to hug him and then start to tickle him. 

 

I had been tickling Dad for a good 30 seconds and he was already laughing uncontrollably then the downright dastardly in me decided to blow a big long raspberry on his neck, all the strength left his body and he was just putty in my hands and we both collapsed in hysterics. 

 

Richard Dawkins
 

When I meet him what stood out for me was his keen intelligence and gentle soul. This is the first of a series I intend to do. I know he is a fan of Douglas Adams (Author of Hitchhiker Guide to the Galaxy) so I chose this quote from that book as the title of the painting.

 

"I refuse to prove that I exist," says God, "for proof denies faith, and without faith I am nothing.”  

 

He is the author of The Selfish Gene and The God Delusion, Richard Dawkins has made it his mission in life to preach genetics to the masses and root out religious dogma wherever he finds it. He is a fellow of New College, Oxford, and former Simonyi Professor of the Public Understanding of Science.

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I’m not going to spend my life being a colour

 

We’ve all heard it “Ginger nut, Ginger minger, Carrot head, the list of insults is endless.

Life can be hard for the ginger people, it’s considered to be social banter even when the ridicule verges on the abusive and can in extreme cases lead to violence. Surely such slurs are racism but it seems that even in our PC world it’s OK to do it.

 

There’s a subtlety in this portrait that's not immediately apparent.  You’ll realise it, and then you’ll find a whole new meaning in “I’m not going to spend my life being a colour”. 

 

Flame-haired had a different meaning back in the 15th century.  Back then, being in the one in 25 club - for that’s how many of us are ginger haired - ran the risk of being burnt at the stake, as you were surely a witch. Fortunately, we’re a little more enlightened these days, or a baying crowd might be warming themselves right now to a pyre of Gillian Anderson, Nicole Kidman, Mick Hucknall, David Caruso as shade-seeking Horatio Caine,

Wilma Flintstone, and Lily Cole.

 

Cole, even with the fame of her Vogue covers, modelling career, and acting, has suffered all the torments, from carrot-top to ginger-minger, and bullying at school.  “Red hair is an issue,” she said. “Especially in this country”.

 

Casual Gingerism seems to be a very British discrimination. Abroad, redheads are celebrated as strong characters and sex symbols.  Simply Red’s owner of ember-red and effortlessly twirled locks, Mick Hucknall, got into a Twitter flame war over what the singer told his followers was akin to racism.

 

In 2009 Prince William mocked his brother during an interview, saying that he’s a “ginger… but he’s a good-looking ginger so it’s all right”.  Is it?

 

Was it acceptable when Tesco in York displayed Christmas cards with the motto “Santa loves all kids? Even Ginger ones.”  Davina Phillips, the mother of three ginger-haired daughters, successfully campaigned for the card’s removal.  “If it had been about a black child or an overweight child the store would have been shut down,” said Mrs Phillips.

 

I know we all get fed up with political correctness but it is discrimination? 

And as Eve says “No, I’m not going to spend my life being a colour”

© nigel whittaker

Richard Dawkins