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Karen Lethlean

But nope, I remain just a name, nothing further, looks like his secret is safe. I felt like a spectator to some sort of occult ceremony, or perhaps a human sacrifice. Today we offer to the artisans… the anonymous Beth.

I blinked and official speeches were underway.

One speechmaker refers to Brett Whiteley, “…my father suggested I might like to buy some of his paintings. After viewing them, my response was to wonder, was my father joking?”

This humor goes right past, overhead, circling beyond my grasp, like helicopters, so noisy, so close. I am in another dimension preoccupied by all sorts of building vibes. Any moment the reputed resident ghost will emerge. I will look up in time to see a spectre peer out one of the high, dark-framed windows, sunlight catching in the diamonded glass panels. I am sure there is some truth to the rumored resident ghost, even though John has happily shown the reports and photographs from journalists he allowed overnight access. I should keep these fears hidden behind a model, exhibition launch, audience person façade. I tried to laugh in appropriate places, feign interest where needed. But I felt like a newcomer to mass in an unfamiliar church, unsure of when to stand or kneel, or where to join the line to take communion.

 Speeches over, John says, ‘Have you even heard of Brett Whiteley?’

‘Yes. He’s an Australian artist.’ Thinking my lover should credit me with a little nous.

‘What are his paintings like?’

‘I don’t really know. Wasn’t he a heroin user?’ As these words erupt John’s expression admonishes. Yep, I am a victim of media about Whiteley. Looking back, I want to blame that naivety on the fact that he had not yet become such a figure in Australian art. At the time I’m sinking deeper into sensations akin to Shaw’s Pygmalion, taken to Ascot way too soon. 

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