It’s the Figure Show at the Jill George Gallery, Soho. I’m downstairs
in a large, bright basement. Two of Mike’s paintings –
watercolour on paper – among many variations on form.

I stand absorbed, almost in disbelief that such simple liquid
blocks of colour can create this, even her spirit deftly contained:
Laura with Head in her Hands; Laura in a Striped Shirt.

And not only her, something of the emotion of the painter,
of their relationship, of youth, of loss, of love in the face of endings,
of death. How I wish I had created this. What is it that connects,

joins me with these shapes, depths of colour, so I can know her
even though we have never met, or spoken? Thinking back
to his studio a few days ago: bare floors, curtainless windows,

the room facing the sun, contained in flimsy corridors of partitions
choc-a-bloc with frames, paintings, white spirits. Tapes. His work
often inspired by the voices of poets. His paintings of my daughter

grew in that space and breathed in other galleries, making
connections with the light of many other eyes:
Amy reclining on the sofa; Amy with Head in her Hands.

Through him a new intimacy, her presence held in the moment
of completion. I remember years before that picture of my aunt
naked, painted in oils by my uncle, delicate, bony, like a bird.

© Steve Walter

Amy and Laura by Michael Ajerman