And I write this with a touch of self-deprecation: I, rather belatedly, have acquainted myself with Joe Wright’s 2005 film adaptation of “Pride and Prejudice” (No, not the zombie one …not yet).
Uh, romantic entanglements on screen often escape my usual repertoire of interests. I am, I admit, more attuned to the cerebral chills of “The Silence of The Lambs” …though it seems that with age, even a steadsfast enthusiast of psychological thrillers can be ensnared by the complexities of Austen’s narrative. And I mean:
[these are extracts from the film, and it might well be that I may, in future, be requsted to delete these words if they’re unhappy about me quoting from the film]
Him: “…I had to see you. I have fought against my better judgment, my family’s expectations, the inferiority of your birth, my rank and circumstance. All these things I am willing to put aside and ask you to end my agony.”
Her: “I don’t understand.”
The remaining declaration I urge you to watch the film, but for this particular quote where I in equal parts giggled and immediately cringed like a school tweenager:
Her: “…From the first moment I met you, your arrogance and conceit, your selfish disdain for the feelings of others made me realize that you were the last man in the world I could ever be prevailed upon to marry.”
Pause. His eyes lingered towards her lips as he leaned in as if going for a kiss. Then:
Him: “Forgive me, madam, for taking up so much of your time.”
…Anyway. This tardiness in embracing the world of Miss Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy, played with fervour by Keira Knightley and Matthew Macfadyen, is not for lack of cultural curiousity but perhaps a certain aversion towards the saccharine. That said, the film’s capacity to finally capture my attention speaks volumes to its emotive resonance and the subtleties of its romantic tapestry – qualities i can appreciate at the moment, even if my heart typically beats in time to a more suspenseful drum. [or I have gained parasites and i need a salt bath after a busy period of exhibitions, art trail open house and eclipses].
It is also entirely possible it’s a moment of grounding, not taking one’s self too seriously to acknowledge this unexpected foray into the realm of period romance, a genre I have often sidestepped with a polite nod and a beeline for the nearest Hitchcock or Demme (1991 Silence of The Lambs), or Lawrence (2007 I am Legend) offering. That being said, here we are, about to parse the emotional crescendoes of a love story that has, against all odds, piqued my interest as a wizened woman. I suppose there is a streak of the romantic in me yet (Venus station opposed Neptune in XII as I type, if this means anything), hidden beneath a penchant for thrillers …call it a subtextual guffaw at my own expense. Let’s press on.
The Gaze of Prejudice: Elizabeth Bennet’s Defiance
Within the serene Stourhead garden’s circular Temple of Apollo, the scene I aim to capture is of a dense emotional conflict. Elizabeth Bennet, the embodiment of intelligence and candour, confronts Mr Darcy, a man of considerable pride and wealth. The linocut and blockprint I am working on aim to freeze this crucial encounter in time, casting it in monochrmatic shades that reflects the drenching rain, and the complex emotions at play.
The dialogue between Bennet and Darcy isn’t just a conversation. It is a moment where private grievances are aired amidst the public eye. Bennet’s stance aginst Darcy comes from a place of misunderstanding, but also from a profound sense of loyalty and protection towards her sister Jane. This misunderstanding is central to the book’s plot and echoes the societal expectations of Austen’s time, which often kept honest emotions under wraps.
“Forgive me, madam, for taking up so much of your time”
Admittedly, in the era, Elizabeth Bennet is not the ordinary heroine; she defies the typical expectations of her era with her asserrtiveness and poise. In the block print film, her posture is in attack and unwavering mode, her gaze directly fixed on Darcy’s, suggesting a defiance that is both rare and commendable. She stands as a testament to the enduring struggle for personal agency within the parameters of societal expectation – of challenging societal norms.
Darcy, often found cloaked in his own pride, is seen through a different lens in this encounter. His subtle lean towards Bennet indicates a momentary lapse in his armour, revealing a flicker of vulnerability. This small gesture is loaded with meaning: in this lean lies the turmoil of a man torn between the world he knows and the emotions he cannot govern. It is a momentary but significant lapse, denoting a turning point in his character’s journey.
At first choice, the monochromatic colour scheme chosen here serves not merely as an aesthetic choice, but as a narrative device. Black and white, much like the truths and misconceptions between our protagonists, are stark – devoid of the ambiguity that colour may afford. The black ink on white paper block print here suggests that understanding is not yet reached amongst the two, as understanding would be neither black nor white, but lies within the shades in between.
The Why: “the world is strange at the moment / on fire” is my present statement each time I am met with yet another heart-rending news of nearby lands at war. This will eventually be a series of prints not merely as a retelling of a classic narrative, but perhaps a dialogue with the past and a commentary of the present changing societal norms. If all else fail, this would have provided a pleasant segue to current challenges.
In the heart of Portsmouth, where Conan Doyle once roamed, his stories still whisper in the alleyways. This workshop isn’t just about printmaking; it’s a time travel to the era of Sherlock Holmes, a tribute to Doyle’s genius. It’s where ink meets history, and every print tells a story.
The University of Portsmouth Library is hosting a joint exhibition featuring The Printmaker Nusye McComish (SouthSeaEyes) and textile artist Laura Simpson, known as ‘I Tell Amelia’. The exhibition showcased a fusion of original hand-carved lino prints by SouthSeaEyes, exploring themes from Victor Hugo to Neil Gaiman’s ‘The Sandman’, and Laura Simpson’s textile art, rich in…
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