I adore this book, particularly as, growing up with a very creative single mother, I have intimate memories of spending one weekend where she, my brother and I painted all the bath panels, doors and cupboards of one of our houses with mermaids, nudes and still-lifes, inspired by the Charleston Homestead. I was enthralled from a young age with the worlds these femme artists created, their dreaminess and boldness to go against the grain of strict class, sexuality and gender expectations.
Kone’s drawings are beautifully composed and are not without a healthy dollop of black humour (e.g. ‘I is for Ingrid who trusted her friends…’) but for the most part they are quirky and amusing rather than disquieting, as is almost always the case with Gorey. They will raise a wry smile, certainly, but they won’t put you on edge as Gorey’s drawings are wont to do.
This is a glorious book, packed with information and insight and luxuriously detailed reproductions, which you’ll undoubtedly want to dip into always. It overflows with rapturous beauty
I think that when I first began to visit galleries and museums regularly, I would spend as much time reading as looking at the art: the art descriptions, whether in sheets of descriptions and lists or wall labels, were read for whatever information or insight they might give. I could spend three hours or more at a museum, seeing each thing, reading about each thing, and leave exhausted, my eyes red, my legs stiff. It took time—maybe years—for me to begin to relax, and just look at the art, allowing what was interesting to hold my attention, and what was not as something I could pass quickly and guiltlessly.
While poetry may be worked and rewritten and sculpted, the ‘poems’ from birds are more spontaneous, ‘lines that arrive’, as the birds appear and disappear themselves, according to mating, food, seasons. They produce their own works of art in song, and in themselves, without the accoutrements of human production.
The book is an encouragement to risk, go deep, and try new ideas. Practising what she preaches, White opens up about her own struggles with depression, divorce, and health problems. Despite the honesty that underlies the book, White is never dour, using herself as an example, and asserting the unique voice that every person has.
She lays her own journey out honestly, celebrating the successes and exploring those areas that didn’t work – struggling to create new meaning in both areas through the relationship between words and visual impressions. It isn’t always an easy thing to do, but Marshall has produced a work that is an important addition to the aesthetic canon, and a pleasurable read full of both heady insights and lovely images.