Oil on panel – 43 x 61 cm
This picture came about after I was asked to make a sign for a public house called ‘The Jolly Butchers’. I made a sketch that was similar to this painting but with a plain background however the publican, lacking imagination, didn’t want to go ahead with the idea. He said, ‘it reminds me of my customers’, and I suppose he had a point seeing as the pub had nicknames such as ‘The Jolly Punchup’ and ‘The Flying Bottle’. So I had to make a more conventional sign. But it seemed to be an idea worth pursuing. So I made this picture with the animal butchers standing at the bar in a pub full of British wildlife. There’s a portrait of the nature god Pan, the friend and helper of all animals hanging above the mantlepiece. This kind of art is called ‘topsy turvey world’ or the ‘world turned upside down’. Many images have been made on this theme going back to Roman times and such pictures usually show situations which feature role reversals such as an audience of animals watching humans perform tricks, animals hunting humans etc.
They did display a print of this picture inside the bar but some customers found it unsettling especially the foreground details.