There was no information in the gallery about him. Every other painting was documented, with the artist’s name and the painting’s title on a little card in the back of the frame, some of the nicer paintings had a small brass plaque on the bottom. There was nothing on or in the back of his frame. I spent hours searching the cellar for his card; I looked on every shelf and all over the floor, I swept and cleaned every corner just to make sure it wasn’t hidden under a large pile of dust. I must have scared more than a dozen spiders out of their homes that week but still there was nothing. I even checked the upstairs office to see if it had been dropped into a draw or put on a shelf. Nothing. As far as the gallery seemed to know he didn’t exist in their archives. I even roped mother in to look at home for any information, she wasn’t particularly happy about it at first, but she seemed to perk up once I told her it would help me out at work. She likes being useful, especially if it means spending time with me, and agreed to check all the art books in her shop to see if there were any pictures of him in them, of even a description of a painting that might resemble him. It was a start at least.
It took me over a month to contact the galleries higher powers. They were not easy people to get in touch with, especially with the use of a phone being out of the question. It’s not like I could just walk into head office and start asking questions like you might with any other job. I had to find out who owned the gallery and then try and get in touch with them and they told me to ask the day staff who told me that they had no idea, that I should ask the people that owned the gallery. Everything in that place was muddled, but eventually I got through, thank goodness for email. The man who owned the collection of art was different to the man who owned the gallery building. I managed to meet with the art owner in person, he was quite awkward and evasive; it seemed that for once someone was more worried about the questions I was asking than my disability. He didn’t seem to know anything about my mystery painting; and he didn’t want to talk about it at all. After an awful lot of discussion and a hell of a lot of paperwork, all for one painting that nobody had apparently heard of, I was also given permission to move him into the main gallery as long as he wasn’t in a prominent location. It seemed a strange condition considering the boss didn’t seem to know that he was eveninthe gallery, it can’t have mattered to him that much. I also managed to get permission from the operations manager to re-organise the logbooks, which would make my job easier, it made no sense to keep old and new together in the dark.
We never actually managed to find out anything about him from books or even online. It seemed that he didn’t exist at all, anywhere we had looked. I even visited other galleries to see if they knew anything about him, there was nothing anywhere. I found him a nice quiet corner, it was a little dim but he hung perfectly, he almost seemed to like it, it was like he was meant to be there. I didn’t have the resources to look further into who he was, being a night manager might be my ideal job but it doesn’t pay as well as it might. My last attempt was getting in contact with the night manager before me, but he either couldn’t tell me anything or didn’t want to tell me anything. So I just went on as I had before, doing my walk round the gallery, tidying up a bit and filling in my logbook, having a few cups of strong coffee, then sitting with him in the darkness.