Cleaning Francis Bacon

Christopher Turner at Cabinet Magazine:

Several years ago, I met Francis Bacon’s cleaning lady. Bacon’s amanuensis, the art critic David Sylvester, referred me to her, as he had her to Bacon. Jean Ward, who had her grey hair swept back into a thin ponytail like a pirate’s, welcomed me to her flat on a housing estate in Tooting Beck, South London. In a raspy voice she told me about her decade working for the painter whose legendarily messy studio—layer upon layer of dust, paint, discarded imagery, champagne bottles, and other detritus—would not have provided her much of a recommendation for future jobs.

“I wasn’t daunted,” she said when recalling her first visit to 7 Reece Mews in the early 1980s, “because I had read certain things about how some artists have tidy studios and some don’t—so I wasn’t really shocked. I just looked at the nice colors on the door that he used to try out paint on.”

more here.