A Wee Sweetie

A portrait of a young girl in Glasgow by John McDonald


A Wee Sweetie is the first of a series of 12 paintings to be made in collaboration with Documentary Photographer Nick Hedges, by Scottish Artist John McDonald.
The painting, which is large, 150 x 100 cm, depicts a young girl of around 12 years of age, though she appears younger. She is dressed in school uniform of pleated skirt, checked blouse, and jumper. The artist has captured the thin look of the jumper, and the child appears vulnerable, she looks cold and her head is slightly hanging down. In both hands the child is clutching what the Scottish call a ‘poke’ of sweets, a small white paper bag.

John was reminded of Picasso’s Child with a Dove painting, which hangs in The National Gallery, and considered painting a white dove in the girl’s hands. However, as she is taking care of those sweeties with both hands, the artist thought she would not have let them go easily. So the ‘poke’ of sweets remains, and gives the double meaning of the title. As a symbol of hope, the artist has painted 3 small butterflies in the lower right hand of the canvas, trying to catch the downcast eye of his wee sweetie.

The painting is an unusual monochrome portrait, painted in grayscale. The 3 butterflies however are coloured: one red, one yellow, one blue. It is a touching gesture, offering the 3 primary colours to the child. Regardless of gender, the artist seems to be predicting his own future; that the child with the sweets and the thin jumper in Glasgow, will one day live life in colour, and this little touch of red, yellow, and blue, the artist will use to create all colours, and endless hues.
Nick Hedges was engaged by Shelter Scotland when it was first set up in 1969, to photograph slum poverty in The Gorbals and Maryhill areas of Glasgow, images that were to shock a London emerging from the Swinging Sixties.

Size 150 x 100 cm / 5 ft x 3 ft

Acrylic on Canvas

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COPYRIGHT © by John McDonald. All rights reserved by the artist. Any and all publishing and reproduction rights are retained solely by the artist. This image is not to be re-distributed, copied, imitated or misappropriated without written consent of the artist.