Art: Remarkable Women
All of my books chronicle women’s inner journeys in some way, and my fascination with that theme extends into my visual art.
In one series sampled here, remarkable womenare depicted amid symbols of their work and lives. The subjects are drawn from a variety of times and fields; recent images have celebrated the botanical artist Mary Delany, the pioneering fossil-hunter Mary Anning, and the writers Jane Austen and Virginia Woolf.
Like the attributes depicted in traditional paintings of saints, the objects, textures, texts and other layers that surround each woman help characterize her journey, her uniqueness, her power, and the way her example resonates through time. Sometimes the elements I choose for an image—pieces of Sarah Galner’s pottery, a drawing of Mary Anning’s most famous fossil discovery—are straightforward. Sometimes they are indirect or allusive, for example the “lover’s eyes” stickpins with which I surrounded Jane Austen to suggest her sharp wit, unclouded vision and themes of both love and riches.
In other works, I use painted or photographic depiction of women to evoke a mood or suggest a narrative. These pieces might transport the subject of a society portrait from the drawing room to the ocean’s depths or redesign an antique book cover using a Victorian miniature. It’s fun to sometimes enjoy the visual equivalent of fiction rather than biography, the latitude of fantasy rather than homage.
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