Ten years ago, when she turned 30, Clare Delaney was given a $250 gift voucher from her siblings to buy a piece of art.
She wandered into a shop in Sydney licensed to sell prints of the famed Australian painter and wallpaper and fabrics designer Florence Broadhurst.
Everything was far above her price range. When Delaney asked if there was anything worth $250, the sales assistant said there might be something “out the back”.
The print out the back was a Broadhurst screenprint that had been used as a drop sheet for painting. It was covered in splashes, splotches, drips and drops.
“It was a print that had gone wrong, that was lying out the back, unloved and now used to mop up paint spills.”
But Delaney “really liked the base of it. It’s a black and white Broadhurst print – and I loved the colours. It was really unusual. And the other thing I really liked about it was that no one else would have anything like it – because it was covered in paint!”
She bought the print for $250 and then had the canvas stretched and framed for $800.
Ten years later the piece still sits in Delaney’s lounge room; one of the few items to make it with her on a move from Sydney to Melbourne. “It reminds me where my home was – and particularly of my siblings,” she says.
“The artwork really fits in with everything. I would characterise our furniture as fairly plain, accentuated by patterned accessories, and the colours in the art work accentuate that.”
Delaney’s wife, Jane London, pipes in: “It’s clearly a fuck up and they’ve used it as a drop sheet. It’s clearly a used object but that’s why I love it.”
Delaney counters: “The more I look at it, I wonder about all the other screen prints that were made on this drop sheet.”
“Do you think the shop assistant was taking the piss when she sold you a dirty drop sheet?” London asks.
“I don’t know, I really don’t know,” Delaney says. “I think she looked at it and thought: ‘Wow that’s really interesting.’”
“I look back at their catalogue now of Broadhurst prints and think: ‘I don’t like any of that now.’ I am really glad I didn’t buy what I intended to buy. I love it even more than I did when I bought it.”