If you’ve ever been to an art gallery, you’ll know it’s very cold. Apparently all museums all over the world are the same temperature, but the thing is, it gets hotter with lots of people and it feels colder with less people. Most of the Art Galleries I’ve been to have been nearly empty, so I’ve needed a cardigan. Maybe people don’t go because they don’t like the way the eyes of a portrait follow them around the room.
I knew a girl once, we called her Mini because she was the tallest out of all of us, which we thought was pretty funny. Her mum was a model for all the glossy magazines. She always had the softest clothes and the most sparkly jewellery. Mini had no brothers or sisters, so sometimes her mum let her dress up in the furs and glitter and they’d have fashion parades up and down the corridor of their lemon-coloured cottage. Mini’s dad was an artist, and he was from India. Before he came here, he was so famous that he painted the official portraits of the Maharajah, in fact lots of the blue elephants and red monkeys that you can see on the inner walls of the Taj Mahal were painted by him. When he came here, he got a job at a television company as a set designer and scenic artist, and that’s how Mini’s parents bumped into each other.
Mini’s dad painted all kinds of things for television. He painted beaches for the backgrounds of movies, he decorated the set for Play School, he painted pretend red blood on the teeth of Jaws and he shook hands with the Bananas in Pjamas. Mini was so in love with her dad. Sometimes he would try teach her how to draw, but she would sit and cry because the baby chick she drew just wasn’t the same as the majestic cockrel he drew. At the end of the day, he’d help her build a pillow fort out of the green velvet cushions on the sofa, and they’d lie beneath, sucking on icypoles, watching his paintings flick across the Kids TV channel.
One day, Mini’s dad came home, but something was different. There were no paints on his hands, his jeans were just as blue as when he left. Mini’s dad had lost his job at the television company and so he sat in his dark art studio, painting the same painting, over and over again for years.
Mini’s mother thought it would be nice to go and get some fresh air, so she decided to take Mini and her dad to the Art Gallery a few times every month. Mini’s dad loved these expeditions, at first. He’d point out all of the secrets; “Look, see how her fingers are a little smaller on the left hand? That’s because the artist forgot,” he’d say, “Look, see how her hair has a line through it? That’s because it was painted in after he thought he was finished.” And Mini would hold his hand and ask for a piggy back, just to smell the oil on his shirt.
Then, Mini’s dad thought that the painting in the art studio at home needed more perfecting, so he didn’t come to the Art Gallery with Mini and her mum anymore.
Mini’s mum thought Mini should still go to the Art Gallery, because then it could be a fun thing to learn about all the art there, then go home and tell everything to Mini’s dad. She’d play mystery games like ‘Spot’ with Mini, where Mini would have to spot the cat, or spot the dog, or spot the goose in each painting- from pieces painted hundreds of years ago, to pieces painted only last year.
This amused Mini for a while. She’d dart through the gallery in her pink parka, slip between tall people in suits and busy herself telling other visitors to the gallery more about the painting than their Audio Tour Guide did. She nearly knew all the artworks at a glance.
That was until one day, when she was sent on a mission to spot the brown-haired girl in each painting, and saw something that caught her eye. She stooped a little closer to inspect and she saw her own face, staring back at her.