Richard Ansett

Marie Louise with Toys, Marie Louise with Flowers, 1998

There is an atavistic element to life; we are capable of change but in incremental shifts within a same inherited landscape.

In 1992, I was introduced to the works of Otto Dix at a major retrospective of his works at the Hayward, London. This is my earliest memory of an influence on my contemporary photographic practice. 

The paintings of his daughter; ‘Nelly mit Spielzeug’ and ‘Nelly mit Blumen’ never left my memory and in 1998, I came across a little girl sitting on the steps outside a pizza restaurant in Belsize Park, London who immediately reminded me of the spirit of original works.

The red jumper with white trim and white dress were specially commissioned, the tabletop was sourced to reflect the grain of the wood of the original painting and the flowers were brought in to create the set in an allotment.

Marie Louise had medical issues from birth and due to treatment for a brain tumor had been in and out of hospitals her entire short life. Due to some of the aggressive treatments, this was the first time she had been able to grow her hair. Marie Louise was very used to being asked to do very precise things by doctors and this made direction of her physical movement unusually straightforward, particularly in the placing of her hands exactly on the tabletop, holding the flower in ‘Marie Louise with Flowers’ and tolerating the large pink bow.

I have no memory of her ever speaking during both sessions.