Sunday, 31 August 2014

Michael Parkin

Obituaries for Michael Parkin have appeared in the national press. We first met Michael and Diana at Gunton some 25 years ago; in his case I like to think it was in the queue for pudding at a summer lunch. Our paths crossed irregularly over the coming years, most usually as a result of family and our respective daughters' friendship and increasingly accompanied by burgundy or chocolate cake.

In 2002 Alison and I opened the gallery in Norwich, and at some point the idea emerged that we would host an exhibition curated by Michael and Diana.  Featuring some of his favourites - Nash, Bawden, Morris, Hale -  and some - Claughton Pellew springs to mind - until that point completely unknown to us, this exhibition helped establish the gallery as a serious player and attracted the attention of a different and extended part of the East Anglian art set.  This first, and almost inevitably successful, collaboration led to another exhibition, and equally inevitably to further mutual enjoyment of the good things in his life - family, friends, wine and chocolate - ideally all together.

Along the way, my painfully inadequate knowledge of British art in the 20th century was being addressed by way not just of facts and awareness but by immersion in Michael's world of personal experience and reminiscense. On our daily journeys from Gunton in to the gallery, his comments on my driving style, "you're much slower than Alison", were interspersed with priceless insight into the world of a London art dealer in the second part of the twentieth century.  And of course the occasional diversion to purchase the essentials of life, chocolate cake and slightly more surprisingly, eggs. The former was catered for by the fortuitous co-relation of the gallery and Zuckermann's the late lamented deli and purveyor of Chocolate gateaux next door to us on Unthank Road, whilst the latter need was met by a farm at Erpingham where eggs were left outside for selection and the money was pleasingly despatched down a drainpipe set in the wall.  Both gave Michael considerable satisfaction.

In 2007 we opened our second gallery in Burnham, and for a while Diana shared this new world with us.  As Michael's health declined, Diana increasingly devoted her life to caring for him and his wit and observation disappeared from our lives.

We shall remember Michael with affection and count ourselves blessed through family and circumstance that, for albeit a very brief moment in his colourful life, he shared some of it with us.