I have chosen to read, Angela Carter's novel 'Shadowdance'. I've always loved Carter's writing. She is a magpie writer, I feel, because she has absorbed all kinds of treasures in her vocabulary and her references and she then spills her hoard across the page in glorious baroque, glittering sentences. I had never read 'Shadowdance', although - or maybe because - it was her first; I didn't want to be disappointed. Well, I did enjoy the novel. You can see that she has found her voice; but she's not always quite sure where she wants to go with her characters. Unlike her later novels where the characters take flight - in the case of 'Nights at the Circus' literally - in 'Shadowdance' they seem trapped in a mundane urban setting and I was never sure if they really belonged there. Nevertheless they are memorable and her writing is vivid. Honeybuzzard, the evil and charismatic central character stands out and there is a marvellous description of him and the timid Morris doing a bizarre dance in a once opulent, now abandoned old house beneath a chandelier. I also liked the character of Emily who travelled with her cat, sedated with an aspirin. Emily reminded me of all those late sixties girls just on the brink of liberation: quirky, independent and bohemian. As with all Carter, the novel is a dark chocolate with a dash of poison in its creamy, sweet centre. The horrible scarred and disfigured face of Ghislaine the once beautiful girl 'like moonlight' 'like dasies' leaves an unpleasant taste in the mouth; as it is clearly the fascinating Honeybuzzard, her erstwhile lover who did this. The murder that Morris thinks he may have committed and the murder of Ghislaine rather blur the focus of the narrative for me. It was, however, really interesting to see Angela Carter stepping out for the first time in the novel.
Carter's novels always make me feel I want to create something that somehow embodies that unique atmosphere she creates. This time I created a Victorian box with a tiny house at the centre. I wanted to evoke the obsession I and my schoolfriends in the sixties all had with everything old and Victorian. Honeybuzzard owns a junk shop in the novel and we spent most of our weekends nosing around the Kings Road looking for what our parents regarded as junk. Our girlish dream was to have a boyfriend who wore an old military jacket!
I painted my box with Fresco paints from Paper Artsy and used collage materials from Cafe Retro Art Gallery to create that Antique Market feel. I think the novel would have been pre-decimal so I added a price ticket in old money. The characters seemed drawn to Honeybuzzard like moths to a flame so I used images of moths to convey this.
Here is the box opening to reveal the secrets of the novel and the word 'shadow'. I am going to add a little scroll to this with my review on it. I made shrink plastic charms to create the impression of clocks, pictures etc.
These sections represent the blend of the gothic and the baroque in the novel;
I'm not a great photographer, but this is an attempt to show the little shop at the centre.
There is a tiny doll's house chair and a dice. Behind it is a shrink plastic poison bottle and in front is a warped canvas of the once beautiful Ghislaine.
A dark novel to begin with! If I've done this OK, I'd like next time to write about a novel I'm reading at the moment called 'What the Family Needed' by Steven Amsterdam. Thanks for stopping by and looking at my art and review. Have a creative week.
Paper Artsy Fresco Paints (South Pacific, Hyde Park, Haystack, Butternut, Snowflake and London Bus)
Retro Cafe Art Gallery - Exploding box, mini-house shrine, skull, crown, chair, mini dice, Debrina Pratt collage sheets, paper cuts, washi tape and tiny gold crown
Paper Artsy Lynne Perrella stamps
Crafters' Workshop Stencils.
Ranger Alcohol Inks
Seam binding distressed with Tim Holtz distressing inks