Recently I had an idea for a joke based on Michelangelo’s painting of Adam on the Sistine Chapel ceiling and had been wracking my brain to find a funny solution to it. It’s something I still haven’t cracked, but in search of inspiration I lay on the couch and took up the pose of Adam, just to see what it felt like. It was amazing. Try it at home. You will be overwhelmed by a sensation that you have become someone else.
Suddenly a whole new angle opened up. But how to use this porn star look? The idea that Adam might use this pose as a photo of himself on an internet dating site came to mind, the implication of which was doubly funny as there were only two people in the world at the time. Obviously it had to Eve looking for a date. In spite of Adam’s leery photo, what choice did she have?
For the joke to work properly I had to get both Adam’s and Eve’s expressions right. Draw, draw and redraw. The human face has so many subtly different expressions. With Eve I ended up drawing an expression of disgust in the lower half of her face and fear in the upper half. It seemed to convey the mixture of revulsion and apprehension I was after, which was pleasing.
Oh, and for those whose first language isn’t english, “gawd” is simply a long drawn out way of saying “god”, as an expression of fear or surprise. In Eve’s case it kind of means “Oh no. Am I really doing this?” Yes you are Eve, yes you are.
Given the sensitive nature of the Nigella/Saatchi incident, it was quite obvious I needed to approach the topic with great delicacy and tact.
After the Guardian rejected my first and second versions I ended up with this. I’m glad now they were rejected as this is definitely the most successful. It’s a strange thing – what seems gentler can actually be more cutting. In an earlier version I had Saatchi saying the line “This tastes like shit!” Saying this he comes across as obnoxious and rude, but we soon realise that he’s offering an honest assessment – he is eating shit. The replacement line “This is the best thing you’ve ever cooked” is far less confrontational but is actually much ruder –it implies that everything else she makes tastes worse than shit. I also love the idea that Nigella would be using canned sauce in her bolognaise.
Actually I did give a lot of thought to tactfulness of the matter. Considering the circumstances I definitely didn’t want to pick on Nigella, but a revenge fantasy on her behalf left me cold. It would impugn her with nasty intentions, which I wanted to avoid. Also, I didn’t want it to be all one sided – though Nigella had to get the upper hand somehow. In the end she does, completely unwittingly, and is thus untainted by nastiness. Other things: Saatchi says “I’m back” twice. The first time is from the police station where he was being questioned. The second time is from the hospital, after having his stomach pumped. I was very tempted to make these trips to the hospital to get his stomach pumped seem like a regular occurrence but the tact thing scuppered it. Tact really pisses me off sometimes.
For those who don’t know (it’s better never to assume), Nigella Lawson is a cookery writer and TV personality. She is actually very good. Her book “How To Eat” gets opened quite a bit in my household. Charles Saatchi, formerly of Saatchi and Saatchi advertising agency fame, is a renowned art collector. I have found, as an Australian living in London, that the presence of a very rich guy who goes to smaller galleries, often buying up whole shows of the work of unknown artists, with the power to make them famous, is very invigorating to the artscene. There’s a Midas out there. Whatever you think of his taste in art, and I have no doubt that he honestly loves the stuff, his presence stimulates things.
I can’t tell you how sad I was when I heard that the Nigella/Saatchi marriage was unravelling. I had been planning to do a series of cartoons on them for quite a while and a had a bunch of funny story-lines coming together. So, so sad. Carpe Diem, my friends.
I was walking down the street the other day and Damien Hirst happened to be walking the other way. We passed. Not a thing! He acted as if he didn’t know me. I couldn’t believe it. So I decided to get my own back with this cartoon. How does it feel eh? Not too good. No, not too good at all.
The Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama and Damien Hirst did indeed have retrospectives at the same time in Tate Modern, as I have chronicled before in the only 2-parter cartoon I have yet done, here and here. I’m not sure about the rest of the world but in England Damien Hirst and Tracey Emin are very big news and get loads of mainstream press coverage, probably even more than that other favourite artist of the press, David Hockney. The idea that one affected not to have heard of the other tickled me. Oh, and in real life Damien Hirst actually does own Nick Serota. I once heard him howling from inside the Hirst mansion – he was late for his walk apparently. He must have been busting, poor thing.