I miss Jane terribly.
Every father of a grown up daughter inevitably still thinks of her as their little girl, and I am no different, and to have lost my little girl is so painful.
I have such vivid recollections of Jane as a little girl, the baby who never crawled or sucked her thumb, but shuffled around on her bottom, whilst sucking two fingers, with another two pushed up her nose. The toddler who used to steal the cat’s food from its dish, who cried when her bare feet touched sand, and wouldn’t leave a picnic rug the whole afternoon we spent on a beach. The shy little girl, who was very nearly kept back from starting school at 5 years of age, because she wouldn’t speak to anyone.
Jane retained that shyness throughout her life.
She could be very reserved and private, but at the same time she was very open to those she trusted and cared for. The last time I was with her, at home one Saturday evening, she had brought her art portfolio with her, and she was so proud to be showing me the art work she was compiling.
She adored art.
As a child, she spent hours drawing and colouring in, painting pictures – kneeling at a coffee table in the living room in St Andrews, happily, quietly, working away with paper and crayons. There were never any big sweeping brushstrokes or splodges of colour for Jane, everything had to be so detailed and intricate. It was clear from an early age that Jane only really ever wanted to study art, and that if she did, it was only ever going to be Fine Art.
She was so delighted, and I was so proud, when Jane achieved her ambition, and was admitted to Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art.
Her time at art college was undoubtedly the happiest of her life.
She indulged her love of art on a daily basis, and under the influence of her tutors, and the culture created by the College, her art was developing, and Jane was developing and maturing as a person. The shyness was still there, but she was opening up to others, and enjoying University life to the full.
Jane’s other great love was travel.
Each year the three of us, Jane, her brother Craig and I, would go on a trip somewhere, to Rome, Barcelona, Amsterdam. It didn’t really matter where we went, but before we went Jane would always be full of anticipation. She just loved to see new places, and experience different cultures.
I will never forget standing on the platform in an underground station at Arlanda Airport, Stockholm, at the beginning of a holiday in Sweden, and Jane was taking photographs of the inside of this station. I laughed at what she was doing, it was after all dark, and more than a little bit bleak, and she laughed as well, but she was just so excited to be there, almost bouncing about in anticipation of her holiday beginning.
And if Jane could combine art with travel, then that was even better.
In Amsterdam, Jane was enraptured by the paintings of the Dutch Masters in the Rijksmuseum, and in the Mauritshuis in The Hague, the two of us stood captivated, and quite alone in a room, with only Van Meer’s “Girl with the Pearl Earring” for company.
Some months after Jane died, one of her tutors at art college in showing me some of the paintings Jane had been working on, explained that Jane liked to create little pictures within her pictures, and that there was always something going on in her pictures beyond the main theme, and that in doing so she had been influenced by what she had seen of the Dutch Masters.
For weeks after her death, we were unable to function in any meaningful way, and now, 18 months on it is still very difficult to live anything like a normal life.
I know that I will never be able to recover from the loss of Jane, but personally, I need to do something for my little girl, something that would be a fitting tribute in her memory.
That is why Craig and I have come up with the concept of Jane’s Journey, a trip to Russia, inspired by Jane’s love of art and her love of travel. We hope she would have approved, and although it will just be the two of us, Jane will be with us in our hearts, every step of the way.