Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Mary Shelley - in the Gulf of Melancholy

Mary in the Gulf of Melancholy
This little image had been kicking around in the back of my head for ages - it's a kind of follow-on from doing the sea storm in the picture of Shelley's Surrey birthplace last year. So I took a break between the houses of Dickens to do this imaginary portrait of Mary Shelley using magazine scraps, cuts from a photpcopy of pages from an old book about Byron and Claire Clairmont with nicely yellowed pages and an inked monoprint I pulled and then cut out

A widow aged just 26, she had experienced more life, joy and tragedy by that age than most of us in a lifetime. The rebellious daughter of a rebellious mother (feminist Mary Wolstonecraft), she had eloped with a married genius, buried three of their children and suffered several miscarriages. On the plus side, as you might say, she had written the definitive Gothic novel and an enduring masterpiece. Frankenstein has never been out of print since its publication.

Already plunged in a deep depression following a miscarriage, the death of Shelley in a sailing accident when his boat was engulfed by a storm, left her bereft and (more practically) rather less than penniless in a foreign land in what she described in her journal as "a gulph of melancholy".

So here she is in her gulph (I must say I prefer her spelling for some reason) and I can now turn my refreshed attention to Dickens's Doughty Street home.

Fiddly stuff which as you see requires lots of soothing cups of tea to aid the old concentration ...
Mary, meanwhile, is now in my online shop at www.etsy.com/shop/AmandaAWhite
(sorry the link defeats me!)


  1. Amanda, she looks amazingly like some ladies I have here at home. Will post a pic or 2 when I get the chance for you to see the resemblance. Maybe relatives from the gulph? Happy New Year and may you enjoy many cups of tea!

  2. Love seeing the homage to Mary. I appreciate her strength (gulp!) to carry on.
    One benefit from my temporary and unwilling side venture as a 'nurse' is a deeper appreciation of my favorite artist/ bloggers. Sitting so far away from the palette for so long, I feel one with the non-artist viewing audience. An odd perspective since I've never disassociated my artist eye/mind while viewing art before.
    I have the urge to share a cup of tea!

  3. Wonderful image and interesting explanation. I love the swirl of shapes around Mary and the feeling of strength in her face. Love the Dicken's house too. Do you paint the individual bricks?
    Fantastic detail as always!

  4. Hallo everyone.
    Am intrigued Sophie as to who or what these ladies of yours are. Happy new one backatcha and yes, here I am on my second mug of the day ... you're welcome to drop by for one - potholes have been (temporarily) filled in courtesy of ayuntamiento but the biscuits aren't all that at the moment!

    Robin, sorry to hear of your problems at present. Hope your mother is on the mend and you can get back to what you do best. And how.
    Enforced deprivation of the studio is a terrible thing in itself let alone when it's brought on by the illness of a loved one. I'll pour you a cyber one right now...

    Judy, I have been known to paint bricks. Many, many bricks. Tiny weeny bricks. But in fact these are taken from what you might call a brick wall reconstruction job I did sometime ago - cutting and pasting (talking by hand here not technologically) "found" magazine bricks. These have been photocopied from that sheet then coloured with various pencils, shaded then re-copied. Now I come to putting it that way I think painting them may have been faster ..................!

  5. A very interesting story - Mary is very brave indeed! Nowadays the slightest problem sends us to depression and we shout that we are stressed and need a holiday...

    I'm looking forward to seeing your-Dickens's house upclose!

  6. Love your brick technique Amanda!!