The Guy, The Girl, The Artist and His Ex

Recently I watched the super SBS documentary series Framed, hosted by Mark Fennell, which told the story of the mysterious 1986 theft of Picasso's Weeping Woman from the National Gallery of Victoria. I was in my second year of uni at the time and distracted by more pressing matters involving boys and alcohol, but it really is a bizarre story, and the thieves have never been found.

I remembered that I had Gabrielle William's 2015 YA novel, The Guy, The Girl, The Artist and his Ex on one of my to-read piles so I fished it out and thoroughly enjoyed it. Williams weaves her own fictional account of the theft, involving a disgruntled artist, a scheming art dealer and an inside contact in the form of a gallery cleaner who procures the 'special screwdriver' to unscrew the painting from the wall -- something which incidentally, Framed suggested wouldn't have actually been necessary. But Williams' story also draws in a couple of teenagers, a single mother, a near-drowning in the Yarra, and mental illness. I loved the grounded inner Melbourne setting (South Yarra and Richmond) and got a little thrill at the weekend when we drove past the street where 'the guy' lives, and the 80s references took my back to my own adolescence.

Chris Womersley's Cairo similarly revolves around the Weeping Woman theft and the lively 1980s Melbourne art scene, this time centred in Fitzroy. But The Guy, The Girl is pacier and in some ways, more serious than the adult novel. But do watch Framed! Neither Williams nor Womersley reveals the truth of the story, but clearly there are people out there who do know what happened back in 1986. Maybe one day we'll find out...

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