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Portraits On A Plate?

The Welcome Cuppa Tea Rooms in Whitchurch Canonicorum

Lovers of portraiture - and, if we quantify them with reference to annual admissions to the Dorset Regional Portrait Gallery, Wootton Fitzpaine, there are certainly several dozen - are often as intrigued by the very different "take" artists may have on those who sit for them as they are by the verisimilitude of the final result.

Of few sitters is this more true than distinguished Professor of Culinary Bio-Ethics, Professor Brian Thrupiece; perhaps the most artistically immortalised man in Dorset's long and distinguished history. Whilst it is true that there were many more aspects to Professor Thrupiece's talents and character than is the case with the "average Joe", it remains astonishing just how many different facets of his extraordinary nature [a] "came out in his face" and [b] were captured over the years by artists - young and old - anxious to have a Thrupiece in their portfolio and bask in the certain publicity it would generate.

Recently, however, there has been some diminution in the quantity - and perhaps quality - of the representational studies of the Professor laid before a still eager Dorset public. In one sense this is hardly surprising: Professor Thrupiece has been unavailable for "in person sittings" for almost two decades ever since his unexpected - and hitherto unexplained - disappearance from a Swiss hotel bedroom during his visit to the Annual Edna Awards in Geneva. Readers will know that he was, therefore, not only unable to deliver his much-anticipated plenary address at the ceremony, but [more distressingly] unable to give the Annual Alumni Lecture at his Cambridge College the following week. But in another - and perhaps more fundamental sense - the absence of the "concrete, real, actual, embodied Professor Thrupiece" might have lead to a greater freedom of interpretation in his portrayal and the evolution of a more plastic approach to his representation on canvas. [See for example, Edna Whisky-McNightly [2022] The Shackles Are Off: Freedom, Restraint and Constraint in the Erotic Representation of Professor Thrupiece [Threadbone Press] or, for a different perspective, Andrew Wilson-Dixon-Wilson-Andrew [2011] Absence and the Power of Memory in Life Drawings of Professor Brian Thrupiece [University of Afpuddle Press]]

That said, for many such academic abstractions are, to say the least, otiose. A voracious public keen only to see Dorset's most famous man remain up front in the public eye and alive in the national consciousness is likely to be as happy to see any old portrait as one laden with the kind of arcane symbolism and deep inner-meaning that only sequestered sex-starved dons can fully understand and appreciate.

Happily, "any old portrait" has just appeared on the walls of The Welcome Cuppa Tea Rooms in Whitchurch Canonicorum. Spotted recently by regular tea-sipper Milcan Tooshuggas, the portrait is by the proprietor's daughter - Paynton Daub - and was originally undertaken as part of her GCSE project. "I think it contibuted a lot to my achieving a D grade overall", Ms Daub said, "and my dad thinks it's great". Several customers agree and there have already been calls for the image to be reproduced in the form of napkins, place mats and tea-tray covers. Whether it will meet with universal or even scholarly approval remains to be seen but it is not, says, perceptive art critic Berndt Umber "facie ad face, either the best or the worst example of a portrait I have ever seen". Readers may disagree.


Would you like to own a Professor Thrupiece GCSE Portrait Commemmorative Plate? Do you crave the opportunity to acquire this much sought-after porcelain masterpiece and hope to become the envy of your friend and neighbours?

Then apply today for this limited* once-in-a-lifetime never-to-be-repeated offer from the Frankly-Craplin Mint. Professor Thrupiece GCSE Portrait Commemmorative Plates will be available in the Autumn and are limited to one plate per customer. Orders will be dealt with on a strictly first come first served basis. Plates cost £450 or can be purchased on a 5 x £100 installment plan [available only to eligible customers]. Credit checks will apply. Successful purchasers will be informed and delivery dates confirmed in due course.

© ™ The Frankly-Craplin Mint

* In the numerical sense [Clarity Advisor]

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