What he recognised was that world of make believe, so often inspired by films, of the film-fan wanting not just to act Snow White or James Bond, but to be them. The ostrich women are trying – repeatedly, exhaustingly – to be what they never can be. Even when they are together they act in isolation, doing their own thing. Some stalk in the distance, others flop or close their eyes and dream their dreams, waiting their turn.

For Rego the figures are grotesque, a word she is careful to distinguish from caricature. Caricature is mockery; grotesque, derived from grotto, describes the dark, secret, vulnerable side of human character. Like a middle-aged aerobics class the ostrich women strive heroically against increasing odds. ‘They are old fighters’, which is why one falls not like the dying swan in the ballet but the sculpture of the Gallic warrior in Rome: and why others from the heraldic prow of a ship, battling through the waves.

Part of their heroism, and of the force of the pictures, is the way they admit to feelings. “The Ostriches are founded in very deep feeling. They are the result of going through a lot of feelings and getting to the essence of them,” says Nunes. “I have these feelings but I’m younger and they’re mixed up. Paula concentrates many feelings. It’s all very connected. Maybe most people don’t acknowledge certain feelings, maybe that’s why they can become more difficult as they get older.

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