David Tindle Tea 1970-1 Photograph: © David Tindle/Courtesy of the UK Government Art Collection
Why aren’t there more paintings of flasks on a picnic blanket?
That’s the question I would like to ask. David Tindle’s Tea which can be seen at the Whitechapel Gallery’s Government Art Collection At Work until 4th September 2011 is one of the most brilliant paintings of a flask that I have ever seen.
What first struck me about the painting was the blanket on the grass. Reminiscent of the one my own family kept in the boot of our car for donkey’s years. Before that it hung around somewhere in the motorbike and sidecar my Dad – rather embarrassingly for the rest of us – used to ride. The flask itself holds an architectural prominence in the centre of the painting. Rising up, high above the blanket. Well, approximately 18 inches or so. One additional china cup to the one firmly screwed on to the flask. Probably grabbed in haste from an old Formica cupboard.
Beautifully painted it’s a still life en plein air. Nobody in sight. No dangerous looking dogs or frisbee throwers insisting on hurling their brightly coloured, and potentially lethal disks only inches away. A peaceful yet somewhat eerie scene.
The painting was chosen for the exhibition by Nick Clegg. A man for whom a picnic for one probably seems like nothing out of the ordinary. Still there’s always the extra cup should a poor and thirsty student pop by for a chat.