Saturday 11 May 2013

Shadow Dance, Arty Review

This is my first attempt at joining Darcy in her Arty Book Review Club on! I'm really new to blogging, as anyone who has read this blog before will be aware, so I just hope this is OK!
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!
For the lid I had a tiny skull with a crown appearing out of a rose. This is the idea of darkness and death at the heart of this novel - just when you're enjoying the beautiful sentences and poetry of it all, something comes out to bite you!
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.
In this view the clown is visible. Honeybuzzard is like an evil clown capering through the novel.

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.
I used:
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
Shrink plastic
Crafters' Workshop Stencils.
Ranger Alcohol Inks
Seam binding distressed with Tim Holtz distressing inks


  1. Love the idea of reviewing books with art - my two favorite things.

    You have done a great job, and look forward to seeing your next one


  2. This is lovely Julie..beautifully done!!

  3. Wow!! I love this, both the review and the exploding box - what a glorious work!

  4. Wow!!! This is all kinds of awesome! Thanks for joining in you did a great review and fabulous art. So many details, i know how hard it is to photograph projects with multiple layers but you took some great shots. Can't wait to see what you do next.

    The next link up is on the last Friday in May and stays open for 4 weeks.

  5. Wow, this truely is a piece of Art! And being this inspired by a book, it must have been a good read! ♥
    Welcome to the ARC!!! :)

  6. Welcome to ARC Julie. What an amazing project you have made inspired by your book. Great review too. :-)

  7. Wow! This is fabulous and I love your review and the way you describe the book. x

  8. WOW, WOW, WOW... This is breathtaking... the attention to detail is fanatastic.. Simply AmAzing ART... Hugs May x x x

  9. Your box is absolutely wonderful. I once had a period of making these fabric covered boxes, sewing the fabric round the card neatly - in the days when I was more patient - so I know how long they take to make, and then you have added all that beautiful artwork. Breathtaking.
    Your review is interesting, I enjoyed it, but I don't think the book itself would be for me even though I love the idea of the rich vocabulary. Welcom to the club. Jez

  10. I can only agree with all the previous comments and also welcome you to ARC. I love the art work and how you have fit this in with the book beautifully Dxx

  11. I haven't heard of the author but it sounds like she writes my kind of read so I'll have to look out for her.

    Your art is gorgeous, I cannot even imagine how long this took - it's beautiful. I love the skull on top.

    You're doing better than me - I'm still (slowly) reading my April book. I may have to start May's and catch up with April later or I'll be way, way behind.

    Welcome to the ARC :D

  12. Wow Julie, this is SO fantastic!!! I love how you combined the expolding box and mini house shrine. They are awesome together! Thank you for sharing your creativity!!! xoxo

  13. Whooooooaaaaahhh!!!! I am blown away by this amazing exploding box, so many layers and details, it must have taken you all month, so how did you find the time to read the book??!!!! I am so glad you have joined ARC as that means I will get to see more of your fabulous creations :) The book sounds really good too.

  14. Lots of WOOOOOWS here, outstanding work, so much work you have done on it but sooooo worth it. Its a brilliant work Miss Magpie, thanks for sharing and hope you have a wonderful day...

  15. WOW!!!!! Julie Ann this is more than all right!!!! This is amazing!!! Your review makes the book sound a very interesting read and your art work is beyond impressive!!! :D XXX

  16. Wowser wow wow wow amazing gorgeous stunning awesome creation. Julie Ann this is an excellent review of the book, and a fantastic fabulous idea of reviewing a book through art. I love reading but have to admit I'm more of a James Patterson kind of girl lol. A huge well done on a out of this world piece of art. Happy Crafting :-) hugs Kezzy xxx

  17. So enjoyed reading your review and your artwork is wonderful! I love the idea of the exploding box and the elements you have chosen to fill it are perfect.

    Janet xx

  18. Wow, your artwork is beautiful! I like the sound of this book, might have to add it to my list :)


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