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Monday, June 14, 2010

Study in Black

Silhouette portrait of Jane Austen

'Poised', 2010 by Rebecca Mayo. Cotton screenprint with mistletoe dye, felted recycled jumper, thread and paper in found frame.

'For the Love of the Sea', 2010 by Jen Kee

Roman historian Pliny the Elder tells a lovely story about a Corinthian woman, who farewelling her lover by firelight, catches a glimpse of his profile on the wall. Desiring to capture the image she reaches out and grabs a piece of charcoal from the fire filling in his shadow. I love the idea of this romantic pre-photography way of capturing a beloved's image.

The Georgians and Victorians loved it too as a sort of cheap, DIY verison of portraiture. You may remember the scene in Emma Thompson's film version of Jane Austen's Sense and Sensibility where Marianne lovingly traces Willoughby's silhouette. There are many historical examples in museums like the V&A but I think it's great that artists such as Jen Kee and Rebecca Mayo (above) are still using the idea to inform new works of art.


  1. I love that scene in Sense & Sensibility! The thrill of drawing a lovers silhouette - it's quite intimate, isn't it? xo Francesca

  2. Lovely story about the Corinthian woman.

    We watched Emma Thomson's Sense and Sensibility again on TV this weekend...the costumes are just so beautiful.

    Have you heard of American Silhouette artist Kara Walker? she does some amazing work too.

  3. No I haven't heard of Kara Walker but I will definately check her out.

  4. Thanks for letting me know about Kara Walker Debby. Her work is amazing.

  5. Cool, Glad you like it.....I think so too.