On the wall behind me is a painting of a llama with a crow on his back and a bottle of red sauce. It is glorious. When I am alone I stare at it and smile; there is a chemistry between us that makes me feel like I do actually belong here or more likely that the painting and I belong together. The painting is part of a larger exhibition displayed around the pub; it’s the only one worth staring at though.
Soon enough the smokers return and they start to talk to me and around me but I find myself staring at the llama painting and letting their words drone out. The process repeats all night until I start to actively encourage them to smoke more so I can be left alone with the llama. Later, stumbling home, I do my utmost to commit the artist’s name to memory; Adam Crosland I repeat with each step as I ascend the hill.
The hangover is big and bad but behind it or atleast somewhere in the middle of it is an image of a grinning llama and his friend the crow – there is hope, potential salvation amongst this white noise headache and soundless champing of dry mouth. I mean I have never seen any art in Swindon that I would want to buy; Swindon art is usually saccharine guff; brightly coloured flowers or dire abstract scribbles. It’s always baffled me that in somewhere like Swindon, a cultural desert, that there isn’t more true artistic expression be it through music or art or whatever. Instead it’s all derivative, commercially-minded pap without originality. I have wrongly assumed that places without a tangible atmosphere of creativity would be forced into creating organic challenging art, stuff that rebelled against the system, against the head offices and chain bars. Not so. I’m not saying that the llama is anything revolutionary but just that I wanted it, really wanted.
I emailed Adam, the artist, on Sunday and offered him fifty pounds for the painting; a fair bit less than the asking price but all I could afford. Amazingly he accepted and by the following night I was the proud owner of the Dele Llama – my first piece of original art.