Anwen Crawford on Antonio Dattilo-Rubbo

Part of a series of new perspectives on portraiture commissioned for Archie Plus

Antonio Dattilo-Rubbo

The strike's aftermath

oil on canvas
Purchased 1913
© Estate of Antonio Dattilo-Rubbo

Who is the man in this portrait when he’s not at work? That’s what I find myself wondering. I imagine him at rest for the evening, his hands – which have been calloused by the rough friction of his mining pick and shovel – curled around his china teacup. Somewhere on a table out of sight, his pearlescent brown teapot breathes steam. I would like to imagine respite for this miner. I wish for him to possess a sense of himself, and of his human worth, that has nothing to do with his labour. And yet I fear that rest and ease will not easily come, not now that the strike has been lost, and he must either keep on working for miserable pay, or search for other work altogether. The loneliness of only being valued for what you can earn: that is this portrait’s quiet tragedy.

Anwen Crawford is a writer under her own name, and a visual artist pseudonymously

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