This portrait of the actor Winona Ryder casts her as the character Winnie from Samuel Beckett’s play Happy Days, 1961. Usually played by a woman in late middle age – here Wilson shows her here as young and vulnerable. Wilson draws on a net of associations in his portrait: that Ryder admires Beckett’s work; that her father, a poet, knew Beckett; and that Wilson’s own theatre work has been influenced by the playwright, in particular his use of objects to create symbolic meaning. Happy Days features a woman buried up to her chest and neck in a mound of sand. Surrounded by the items she has retrieved from her handbag – a toothbrush and gun, as well as a parasol to protect her from the sun -- Winnie endures the passing of day and night (signalled by the use of light and dark) chatting mindlessly.
The exquisite ancient Greek statue Aphrodite, echoes the human form that may be hidden beneath the mountain of earth and objects in Wilson’s portrait of Winona Ryder. The scenography of the portrait evokes a world between dream and reality, a quality exploited in the painting of Alnwick Castle, c.1829, by J.M.W. Turner. In Tim Noble and Sue Webster’s sculpture, The Gamekeepers Gibbert, 2011, light transmutes object into image as the abstracted assemblage of dual forms creates a near-flawless shadow of the artist’s own profiles.