The Angela Flowers Gallery, London, 1973. The private view of a solo show by Colin Cina, a fellow student at the Central School of Art and Design. After graduating, Colin had built a reputation as an abstract painter and the show contained his latest work - very large paintings featuring vertical and diagonal lines of varying thicknesses and colours ranging across the canvas.
Mike Leigh was a close friend of Colin's, and I had met him a couple of times in the 1960s when he was making a name for himself as a stage director. By 1973 he had made his first film, 'Bleak Moments', and was writing and directing for television. At the private view, I spotted him talking to a young man in front of one of Colin's huge paintings.
When I joined them, Mike was discussing the painting with the young man, who spoke with an unabashed upper-class drawl.
"In fact," said Mike, "Colin's paintings are a kind of musical notation, and he wants the paintings not only to be enjoyed visually, but sung."
"Yes, for example, that passage there could be …"
Mike started humming, waving his arms to show how the lines and colours corresponded to his rhythm and melody.
"Oh, I say, how fascinating!" cried the young man. He looked round the gallery, and beckoned to to a middle-aged couple who turned out to be his parents.
"Mummy, Daddy, you must come over here. This chap says the paintings can be sung!"
Mummy and Daddy joined the group, and after a few minutes, Mike Leigh had the three of them singing lustily to the painting. I wonder if they bought it.
P.S. Coincidentally, I came across this video on YouTube the other day.