She tried to smile as she shook the investor’s hand, but couldn’t meet his eye.
“Your landscapes are exquisite.” His voice sounded well educated and confident. This was a man who spent a lot of time in galleries.
“Thank you.” Caron tried not to mumble. She really tried. But still she mumbled.
Cynthia’s frown told Caron that more was required.
“They take a while to do. You can’t rush a watercolour.”
Cynthia looked less than satisfied.
The investor stepped toward the picture that Caron was most proud of. “What were you trying to say with this one?”
“To say?” Caron caught herself. This was the sort of question Cynthia had been warned her about. “Well… I like the countryside.”
“Hm,” said the investor.
“I go where the views are. I had to be there at four in the morning every day for a week to catch the light.”
“The light is perfect. The rain at the end of the valley… it’s beautiful.” The investor made it sound like a grudging admission. “But I can’t see what it’s trying to say.”
“Um…” Caron didn’t like the word ‘trying’. A person fully engaged with a piece of art does not use the word ‘trying’. “That Symonds Yat Rock is a wonderful viewpoint.”
Cynthia winced. The investor’s shallow nod announced that he’d lost interest.
“Perhaps you’d like to have a look at the Troglodyte’s work?” asked Cynthia, showing she’d given up on Caron.
“The Troglodyte?” the investor sounded amused.
They drifted away. No one was showing any interest in Caron’s watercolours, so she followed them. A young man with green hair and a purple jacket stood in the centre of a half-circle of men and women, in front of a row of photographs that looked to Caron as if he’d spent half an hour wandering around his house with a camera. The one directly behind him looked like the U-bend of a toilet that hadn’t seen a cloth for a while.
The Troglodyte waved his arms around and bounded on the balls of his feet as he spoke. He looked as if he was suffused with energy that he was trying to discharge through his voice. “I try to symbolise modern life. We’re all trapped in our urban world, dependent on the mechanics and machinery of homes we don’t even notice because we’ve become so compliant.”
The investor gestured at a photograph of a table and chairs. “Like this one?”
“Empty table surrounded by empty chairs,” said the Troglodyte. “The eternal wait for something on the table and someone to sit in the chair to appreciate it. It’s an artist’s life. It’s all of our lives.”
“I’ll take it,” said the investor.