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Woman Sweeping, by Édouard Vuillard

My response today to Doris Emmett’s Post-a-Day for May.


  During a brief moment of inactivity I began reading an article in the Spring edition of ‘The Paris Review’; a quarterly literary magazine featuring original writing, art, and in-depth interviews with famous writers.  I began reading an article by Ishion Hutchinson, a writer who I have to confess I have never read before.   The article was entitled, ‘Women Sweeping’ and began with an in depth appraisal of a painting by artist: Édouard Vuillard entitled ‘Woman Sweeping’, apparently a portrait of the artist’s mother.
After a wonderful detailed description of this painting, the writer seamlessly switches to a beautiful word portrait of the life of his own grandmother who lived in Jamaica. I was entranced by the description of her lifestyle, which apparently was the trigger that led to the comparison with Vuillard’s painting.
This was fascinating and incredibly detailed, lifting the lid on a harrowing, harsh lifestyle where she lived in Portland Jamaica. When asked how she, ‘made her house’, she would say, ‘Through baking’. Her baking and a market stall produced a comfortable career. Out of it she built her house and raised her children.
Although she was illiterate, on the base of the table in her house, were  four books: the King James Bible, a Church of God hymnal, The Jamaican phone directory and a worn, illustrated copy of John Steinbeck’s ‘The Pearl’.
Ishion Hutchinson then seamlessly returns to the portrait of Madame Vuillard with a continuing interesting appraisal of the painting. The article finishes with the death of his grandmother.
I was so absolutely fascinated by this piece of writing, it prompted me to download the painting and re-read the article. I also obtained a copy of John Steinbeck’s book, The Pearl’. It also inspired me to write this piece.
Thank you Ishion Hutchinson.
I have to admit this is what inspiring writing is designed for…..to feed the imagination and encourage further thought.

©️ John Yeo

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