Pareidolia On Parade

My mother was gradually ensnared by the Baptists. Poor old chook, it was always the way with her... socially isolated as an orphan so the creepy geek guy trapped a child bride, moved from pillar to post following his get-rich-quick schemes: where was a girl to make ordinary friends?

Anyway, the Baptists in Sugartown got hold of her, and when we moved to Muddygate, she moved to the local franchise there, in search of the prepackaged companionship the name promised. Kind of like knowing you'll get a crap meal at Mickey D's, but at least it will be predictable crap.

It was a typical population of Baptists for the time and area, all skewed toward the cradle and grave ends of the age spectrum, with all the old Mrs Disapprovings and Mr DeCrepitts at one end, and the endless production of babies (all looking like badly-boiled Winston Churchills) at the other. Mister Creepy Elder, friend of girls just exiting the "singlet years", The Reverend Dodder (retired but still interfering), and so on...

Of course, this would have been a particularly revenue-draining mix, but for Wally Workshop, a fairly successful tradesman who seemed to be the driving force behind everything practical that went on at the place. Wally was the one who organised the labour and building materials for a hall at the rear of the church, anticipating some growth in the area.

Then, one Saturday morning after a particularly good session at the local flicks, and afterward at Arty's separate-from-parental-house sleepout and drug den, disaster visited itself upon me like pigeon poo from a clear blue sky.

"Wake up. You're due at the church."

I opened one bleary orb. Geez, if even I knew it was Saturday, in the state I was in, why did my teetotalling mother not have the foggiest? I told her, in my best fifteen-year-old whine, that it wasn't Sunday.

"This isn't church. I promised Mr Workshop you'd help with the hall."

Oh. Frigging. Excellent. Not only would I have to put up with the cheeriness, singing and whistling of bloody Jeebus songs, but there would be Wally, Creepy and his son-in-law, and all the usual crew of upstanding christians, trying to involve themselves in my life, which was doing quite bloody well without them, thanks very much.

Okay. At least I'd be able to nip outside for a smoke now and then. I girded up the loins in what I hoped would pass for work clothes and headed up to the church.

The hall was all erected, plumbed and wired. I think in builder's talk it was at "lock-up" stage. Still, there was no paint anywhere inside, and vast expanses of fibro-cement sheeting greeted the eye. Mudgate was big on fibro, and the hall was no different, apart from a Besser block facade.

Now there's not a lot can be done with an unsupervised fifteen-year-old, who didn't take any manual arts courses, and who is pretty unwilling anyway. I was given a roller, equipped with some white undercoat, and directed to the northern wall, with instructions to get a coat on it.

Bored. With a roller. Not a good thing... I suddenly saw some possibilities. The end of the roller still made for a fairly good "fine detail" brush.

I tried a shape on the wall.

Not bad, I thought, and followed through. I'd seen what could be done with a large house-painter's brush, and now it seemed easy...

Of course there was no going back.

(Can you see what it is yet?)

Using the a combination of the end and the flat edge of the roller, I was soon well into my masterpiece...

A portrait of Rolf Harris, about 3 feet high, using Rolf's techniques. (Really, this GIMP image doesn't do it justice. It was pretty bloody good.)

Rolf and I have both come a long way since then.

Now, let me be the first to admit that there are problems inherent in this particular school of painting. One is that Wally happens to see what has happened, deliver a bit of a verbal reprimand (unusual: no swear words!), and make the budding artist hurry to cover the Rolf up before the paint dries.

Another drawback is that the edge-delivery technique is not what rollers were (intelligently?) designed for. The portrait was a little thick, like it was done with oils and a palette knife. And this was the north wall.

So, it came to pass, that the hall was commissioned, and a morning service was held. The sun, having heaved its tardy arse out of the bay, shone through the eastern windows...

and a the trace of a bearded figure on the northern wall was thrown into relief, and made plainly visible.

And up until then, nobody had known that Jesus wore glasses!

I'll get out of your way now.