See paintings differently

#MAGfiction is series of very short stories inspired by the paintings in our collection, from Patrick, one of our Visitor Services team.

Walter Richard Sickert, The Mirror, 1925 A bright oil sketch of Therese Lessore, the wife of the artist, seen through a mirror, seated at a table in the foreground, with her head resting on one arm. There is a domestic interior background of a wall hung with indistinct pictures.

Walter Sickert The Mirror

She groaned in frustration. Damn modern technology. She wished she’d kept the old one. But no, everything was ‘digital’ this and ‘cloud’ that these days. She suspected her step-daughter of fiddling with the settings. She sighed and asked the question again. “Mirror, mirror on the wall, who is the fairest of them all?” But the answer was the same; a baleful white system window that read, “Unable to check for update. An error occurred in Mirror OS 6.0.9. Cancel  / Try Again.” 

Words © Patrick Kelleher in response to The Mirror, by Walter Sickert
Currently on display on the Balcony.

Annie Louisa Swynnerton, Illusions, 1902 Half-length portrait of a young girl with blonde hair, dressed in a suit of armour and chain mail with her hands raised to her chest in gesture. There is a background of dense trees with dappled sunlight falling on the girl from the left.

Annie Louisa Swynnerton Illusions

The sunlit garden. Giggles, squeals of delight as Izzy ran round chasing bubbles then, running up to him, her face in close-up, beaming with happiness, Come on, Daddy, play with me!” she begged. The clip looped. Giggles, squeals, close-up, “Come on, Daddy, play with me!” He paused the video as the image blurred through his tears. She would have been eight today. 

Words © Patrick Kelleher in response to Illusions, by Annie Louisa Swynnerton
Currently on display in Gallery 10.

William Hilton II, Phaeton, 1820 A dramatic depiction of Phaeton in his father's chariot. Phaeton is seen at close quarters, in profile to the right, from the side of the chariot; he places a hand on the top of his lowered head in a gesture of failure and despair

William Hilton II Phaeton 

He’d taken his dad’s prized possession for a joyride. Now the sports car was wrapped round a tree; a right off. Sat in the back of the police cruiser, he assumed his father’s name and money would make the charges disappear. The discovery, by the police, of his mother’s body in the boot came as a shock. 

Words © Patrick Kelleher in response to Phaeton, by William Hilton II
Currently on display in Gallery 4.

Jan Davidsz. de Heem, Still Life: Fruit And Oysters On A Table Each individual item in this painting is recorded in minute detail, down to the bloom on the grapes and the iridescent lustre of the oyster shells. The artist has carefully captured the reflection of the window in the wine glass, or roemer, with its pattern of raspberry prunts, and the lemon is peeled for the viewer to imagine its bitter taste.

Jan Davidsz. de Heem Still Life: Fruit and Oysters on a Table

#hotdate  #restaurant #class #datass #jimmychoos #igotthis #doyoutakeoystercard #oysteralacarte #foodporn #nom #eatingfortheinsta #badfood #fromnomtovom #barf #jimmyspews #awkward #taxihomealone #morningafterthenightbefore  #hangover #whatdidido  #hairofthedog #paracetemol #detagging  #youaintseenmeright  #neveragain 

Words © Patrick Kelleher in response to Still Life: Fruit and Oysters on a Table, by Jan Davidsz. de Heem (attributed to)
Currently on display in Gallery 14.

Sir John Everett Millais, Wondering Thoughts, 1855 Forward-facing, full-figure portrait of a young woman seated in an armchair. She has a distant and contemplative expression, with her eyes gazing downward to the left and her head also tilted slightly in that direction. She has dark hair neatly parted down the centre and tied away from the face and wears a floor-length black dress, which reveals the shoulders, has short sleeves trimmed with black lace, and a small posy of red flowers fixed to the bodice. Seated well back and resting both hands on her red upholstered chair, she has allowed a letter to fall from her hand into her lap.

John Everett Millais Wandering Thoughts

The dark handsome stranger, the mansion, the parties, the life of luxury and security; she had lost it all. The paper in her hands was incontrovertible proof of that. She had chosen unwisely and paid the price. Silently, she mourned the loss. Not one of her lottery numbers had come up, and it had been a roll-over weekend, too. Still, there was always next week. 

Words © Patrick Kelleher in response to Wandering Thoughts, by John Everett Millais
Currently on display in Gallery 7.

Arthur Hughes, Ophelia, 1852 a dark, swampy, woodland setting, Ophelia, with a sorrowful expression, is seated in the centre, on the base of a overhanging willow tree, next to a stream. She is a delicate, pale young girl with long fair hair, and is dressed in white drapery, with a crown of reeds and flowers on her head. She holds more reeds and flowers close to her chest with her left arm, dropping purple and white flowers into the stream below with her right hand. Green algae floats on the top of the stream, a toadstool growing nearby, on the right, next to silver birch trunks, which extend out of view.

Arthur Hughes Ophelia

“But mother, why?” the Princess protested. “For the future of the kingdom,” the Queen replied. “Now pull yourself together and act like a princess. The sooner you get started, the better.” The princess sighed. She sat down by the pond, a look of disgust curdling her face and, one by one, began to kiss the frogs. 

Words © Patrick Kelleher in response to Ophelia by Arthur Hughes, 1852
Not currently on display.

John William Waterhouse, Hylas and the Nymphs, 1896 Mythological scene from the ancient Greek tale of Jason and the Argonauts, showing Hylas being tempted to his death by water nymphs.

John William Waterhouse Hylas and the Nymphs

The young women splashed about, squealing. High spirits, the lifeguard thought, until someone complained. He called the women over to the side. “What have we done?” they asked. “Well,” he said, a little flustered, “there’s a chemical in the swimming pool that turns green when you pee in it so, as you can see, I’m going to have to ask you lot to leave.” 

Words © Patrick Kelleher in response to Hylas and the Nymphs by John William Waterhouse, 1896
Currently on display in Gallery 10.

Marcus Stone, A Passing Cloud, 1891 Narrative scene depicting two young lovers in a garden. A young woman, dressed in white with a wide brimmed straw hat carried in one hand, stands in the foreground to left, at the bottom of two stone steps, leaning with one arm against a stone pillar and her back to the rest of the garden. A flowering rose bush grows to the left of the stone pathway before her. Behind her to right, at the top of the steps, sits a young man at a table, one arm leaning on the table top and supporting his head, looking off to the right.

Marcus Stone A Passing Cloud

Mister Hampton was a fellow of moderate income and, in every aspect, acceptable to Polite Society. Miss Lamb’s father approved the match. Now engaged, Christian names were allowed. Miss Lamb, Harriet, however, foresaw a shadow of ruination. I could never marry anyone whose first name was Dwayne, she said with a hint of pride and prejudice. 

Words © Patrick Kelleher in response to A Passing Cloud by Marcus Stone, 1891
Currently on display on the balcony.

Sir John Everett Millais, Winter Fuel, 1873 Scottish winter landscape scene, showing a large cart laden with felled timber. Birnam Hill is in the background. The cart occupies the foreground, its wheels at the left of the composition and its shafts resting on the ground to the right; on it are the branches of silver birch and oak, with brush-wood piled on the ground around the wheels. A young girl is seated in profile to the right on the far shaft.

John Everett Millais Winter Fuel

The woodcutter and his daughter were collecting firewood for winter. He wouldn’t let her accompany him into the forest. “It’s too dangerous,” he said. “Wait here. I won’t be long.” She waited patiently for hours, but he didn’t return. A howl rose from the trees. The wolf, too, needed winter fuel. 

Words © Patrick Kelleher in response to Winter Fuel John Everett Millais, 1873
Not currently on display.