28 January 2013

MadI’m spitting feathers as my mum used to say. Life can seem very unfair at times especially if you have HIV. But it can seem doubly unfair if you have HIV and like me are also an artist because as a general rule you have to be dead before you start making any money and how unfair is that? It was an article in the Guardian today about the sale of a portrait by Salvador Dali that set me off. It brought back the past and the things I try not to think about, like how I contracted HIV and how badly I was treated by my partners family and the Executors of his estate, who after his death were supposed to support me as an artist. If it was up to them, aside from not having the proverbial pot to piss in, I would never paint another picture. Although Salvador Dali very rarely painted portraits he did paint a portrait of my deceased partner Dr Brian Mercer OBE FRS the inventor of Netlon, which I would imagine would also raise a few million if it were to be sold.  

Salvador Dalí portrait of Mona Bismarck up for auction at Sotheby’s

Dalí’s ironic painting of famously well-dressed woman portrayed in black rags expected to fetch up to £2m. So why was Mona Williams, wife of a man once considered the richest in America, depicted in art in grim black rags?

“He was having fun, I think,” said Samuel Valette, a surrealist art expert at Sotheby’s.

Sotheby’s estimates the painting is worth about £2m, a conservative valuation given rising prices for surrealist art.”


The rare portraits Dali painted were often tongue in cheek. For example when he painted Brian he portrayed him with blue eyes and blond hair looking angelic. My portrait of Brian which I painted shortly before that of Dali portrays him as he really was, dark, controlling and demonic. It is interesting to note that we both placed emphasis on Brian’s hand. It is also interesting to note that my portrait, should it be auctioned, would reach nowhere near two million – unless possibly when I’m dead of course.


The Spider and the Fly by Adrienne Seed

The main art in my life now has an H in it – as in HAART, highly active antiretroviral therapy, which I have to chuck down my neck every night as I bemoan the path that led me here. I also bemoan the fact that everything is covered in bloody Netlon as I rip it off bulbs of garlic and Spanish onions then chuck it in the recycling bin. Brian’s carbon footprint. Dali once covered his house in Netlon – see photo.


Yes, life and especially art is unfair in the extreme and I should know, I’ve been battling with it all my life – as I now battle with HIV. I should have listened to Oscar Wilde and his famous quote, “All art is quite useless” – or – art is short for Arthur as in Arthur Dick and in retrospect, I should have stayed away from them too!


  1. Hi Adrienne,
    I was so sorry to hear that you had contracted aids. I wish you a long life in spite of it.
    Your portrait of Brian looks amazing.
    It would be great to catch up after all these decades! I live in Florida by the way.
    All the best Adrienne, Love Vera


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