"I'm the Artist's Husband" / by Jeannine Cook

So often I have heard my husband quietly and humorously introduce himself thus at exhibitions of my artwork.  I always marvelled at that statement, given that he himself was a world-recognised expert in his particular branch of science, although one would never hear him say anything about it. 

The best supporter an artist could ever wish for, he it was who first presented me with a box of Winsor and Newton watercolours and Arches paper, just before we went off on a trip to Tortola.  Thanks to him, I rediscovered my love of painting and drawing, a field I had been told to abandon at school for "more serious  subjects" at the age of twelve.  And thus it was my husband who caused me partially to set aside my non-fiction writing and become an artist. I owe him an enormous debt, in so many ways, but particularly in enriching my life with the passion and fun of being an artist.

"The Artist's Husband", Rundle Cook, with Jeannine Cook

"The Artist's Husband", Rundle Cook, with Jeannine Cook

Now as I sit quietly beside him in a hospital room as he wends his way through complications of health and courageously makes decisions about those crossroads in life that come to us all, I cannot but salute this wonderfully wise, humorous and supportive "artist's husband", Albert Rundle Cook. Clear-eyed about life in so many domains, Rundle, as I know him, understood from the beginning that if I were to be a serious artist, he needed to give me the space and time, literally and psychologically, to experiment and grow.

Time after time, when I felt I needed to travel in my quest to learn and develop as an artist, he would simply take it for granted that I should go.  Never a quibble, never a complaint about my leaving him to do his own cooking and laundry, despite often a heavy workload himself.  He encouraged every aspect of this artist's world that I had entered, and has been my best and most honest critic for the work that I produced.  Even last week, newly out of the Emergency Room and after my rushed return from the artist's residence, Bordeneuve, in the French Pyrenees, I showed him the few metalpoint drawings I had already done.  He carefully considered each one from his bed, as I moved them in the light to catch the play of the metals, and thoughtfully commented on each one.

Even as he has become more frail and confined to a wheelchair, his request to go and see the exhibitions I have had in Mallorca or elsewhere has always been categoric, the visit attentive, thoughtful and quiet.  Typical of his demeanour in all situations, he was still supporting me each time in such an eloquent and generous way.

Thank you, my darling "artist's husband".