Latest News > Naomi Frears – a painting for Ice

The new edition of Anna Kavan’s Ice features the brushwork of British artist Naomi Frears. In the painting Wish You Were Here the brightness of her female figure seems ready to fade into the desolate black background which, cracked and vaporous, might describe a psychical space as much as a cold, physical one. Any resemblance to the novel, however, is incidental, and the story behind the painting is quite different, as Frears discusses below …

Wish You Were Here (2006; acrylic on board)






Naomi Frears in situ. Photo credit: Alban Roinard

Wish You Were Here is a quiet painting. The title describes the feeling of missing someone even though they are present.

The painting was lots of other things before it became this small figure caught in the act of turning away from or towards me. She is loosely based on an image of Flora in a fresco in Pompeii.

I remember painting everything black at some point which stopped the painting in its tracks and forced me to begin again but this time with white paint which turned the black a cool slate grey.

In terms of previous images that have come and gone on this painting, I can still see half a figure with one arm down and one raised behind the (no longer visible) head at the bottom of the image.

When it was finished the director of Tate St Ives chose it for inclusion in an exhibition at the gallery which was fantastic and a surprise for a painting that very nearly wasn’t anything.

This is the only work of mine I have ever kept – maybe because the way the figure is moving and the tilt of her head remind me of my daughter. I am going to give her the painting one day.


Order the Cased Classics edition of Ice by Anna Kavan



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