The Artworks from the Grimm Project
The tales behind the artworks that form the Grimm Project were randomly selected by others, who without knowing chose the tale by providing me with a randomly selected number. I also invited them to supply me with a photo of a landscape that then informed the colour palette for the work. Below are my interpretations of some well known and some lesser known Grimm’s Fairy Tales.
All works are for sale. Please feel free to contact me if you have a query regarding the artwork (email me at: rebecca (at) designfarm (dot) co (dot) nz)
The Tale Behind the Tales
– From 2015
Recently I embarked upon an interesting new art project and I thought it was about time I shared how it was coming along. This project is an exploration on chance, both for me as the artist and in some ways for those that chose to participate. The project had definite parameters to work within, a controlled experiment you might say, but chance certainly played a big role as I had to rely on others to define certain aspects of the artwork.
I wanted to push my artistic boundaries by giving someone else the authority to chose my colour palette and what it was that I was to paint although they didn’t know that when they signed up to participate. I put out a call to my friends on Facebook and ask if their were any willing participants who would do 2 things for me. One was send my a photo of a landscape that appealed to them and the second was to chose a number within a given range. They didn’t know how these elements were going to be used just that they were for an art project. My plan was to use the photo to inform my colour palette, which is dangerous territory for a painter to hand over that power I can tell you! The number gave me a page in a book of Grimm’s fairy tales from the book Grimm Tales by Phillip Pullman, that then gave me the fairy tale I would then interpret in my artwork.
My first work for this project is a painterly interpretation of the tale Thousandfurs. My colour palette was determined by this photo. In brief Thousandfurs is a story about a king besotted by his golden haired wife. Grief strikes the king though when his beloved wife dies. But the story takes an uncomfortable twist when the king suddenly notices how beautiful his golden haired daughter is and decides he wants to marry her. She tries to put him off by setting him extraordinary tasks to fulfill one of which is to have a coat made for her featuring 1000 different furs. Amazingly the king fulfills this quest and unsurprisingly the girl makes a run for it and escapes the castle. Only to be found by the king and his men, but when she was found she was wrapped in this coat of 1000 furs and at first the king thinks she is an odd kind of animal.
When it is discovered that she is in fact a girl and not some fascinating creature she is sent to work in the castle kitchen (the king did not recognise her as she was so grubby). As time goes by the king throws a number of balls in the castle and the girl sneaks out of the kitchen, dresses in fine ball gowns and goes to dance with the king. Strangely enough the king doesn’t recognise his daughter as he dances with her. He thinks she is the most beautiful thing, but like Cinderella she disappears before he can make his move. She goes back to the kitchen and makes the king some soup as instructed. He thinks the soup is the most divine he has tasted and demands to meet the person responsible for the soup. But dressed in the furs he does not see that she is the girl he has just danced with.
This soup delivery happens a number of times, as with any good fairy story, and each time she puts a golden trinket in his soup which bemused the king. On one occasion the king slipped a ring on the girls finger when they were dancing, without her realising, and when she delivered the soup that evening the king saw the ring on her finger a knew that under that coat of fur was the beautiful maiden he had just danced with. He pulled off the fur coat and declared he would marry her.
Philip Pullman, the author of this collection of tales, as well as myself, were none too keen on the ending of this incestuous tale and he presented another ending that he had researched. In short the alternative ending had the princess marry her true love and the king getting his arms and legs cut off. But his bodyless arms did try to strangle the fair maiden’s husband but she saved the day (which is a much better and edgier ending in my opinion).
Here is a sneak peek at how the painting is progressing
It was time to up the anti on this golden haired princess and give her further prominence in the piece. I also wanted to introduce the severed arm and what better way than to have her sitting on it! I also wanted to reference the title of the tale Thousandfurs but instead of cloaking her in the coat of furs which became her disguise I chose to refashion them into a pair of boots, far more fitting for this chick!
So what’s been happening with this Grimm Project?
I know it’s been an age since a posted about this project. But there is good reason for this, it’s what I call ‘The call of the studio‘ or perhaps better still the ‘Pull of the paints‘ in other words when the studio beckons you not much writing happens!
I’ve been so enjoying creating the paintings for this project that it’s hard to find enough hours in the day to satisfy my need to paint. I sneak away to the studio in the evenings as I just can’t get enough of it during the day – oh it so beckons me and I love it!
So what’s been going on then I hear you ask? Well since completing Thousandfurs I’ve been working on Rumpelstiltskin, Faithful Johannes, and The Golden Bird. As with Thousandfurs the fairy tale and colour palette were randomly selected by someone else. Then I bring my creative workings to it. For each work I’m seeking out those elements of the story that resonate or that simply just seem completely odd to me! These are the things that appeal and encourage my painterly exploration.
In August 2015 I’ll be exhibiting the Grimm Project at Toi Poneke in Wellington, NZ. I’m very excited about transforming the gallery space into some weird and wonderful painterly fairy tale landscape. So best I get back into that studio but until then here are a few snippets of the aforementioned works in various states of resolution. I share these because I find the process of painting, of resolving and problem solving is just as interesting as the final works. So here is a little taster thus far… all will be revealed at the exhibition!
Preparations are in full swing as I get ready for my exhibition at Toi Poneke in Wellington, NZ in August. The exhibition title is ‘Retold’ a most fitting title for a visual retelling of these tales indeed.
Of course the paint is drying slower than I’d like, the cold winter months reek havoc with certain colours. But hey if I have to take a heater to it I will!
This has been an immensely enjoyable journey interpreting the Grimm’s tales and one that I aim to continue for some time yet. Playing with painterlyness, drawing, texture, scrapping I love what paint has to offer.
And here is a little sneak peak of what I have to offer with it – enjoy.
Oh and there are some exciting developments a foot around my exhibition, I’ll be sure to keep you posted!
Countdown to ‘Retold– Paintings from the Grimm Project’ exhibition launch
It’s 3 weeks out from the launch of ‘Retold – Paintings from the Grimm Project’ and it’s been all action stations in the studio as I’ve been busy finishing off the body of work for this exhibition. Retold will be on show at Toi Poneke Gallery, 61 Abel Smith Street, Wellington, NZ from the 7th – 29th of August.
I have been fortunate enough to receive a grant in support of this exhibition from The Emerging Artists Trust which I am immensely grateful for. A big shout out goes out to them – thanks!
An exciting addition to the exhibition is a performance by Kenneth Männchen in response to the painting ‘The Golden Bird’. Kenneth will resume the role of the fox from this story after having modeled for the paintings. This performance will happen at 12pm on Saturday the 8th August at Toi Poneke and forms part of their 10th birthday celebrations. You can find out more about what’s going on at Toi Poneke by liking their Facebook page.
Retold Exhibition at Toi Poneke 7-29th August 2015
The exhibition is finally here and is open from 7–29th August 2015 at Toi Poneke Gallery, Wellington.
The fox from ‘the Golden Bird’ visits the exhibition
During Toi Poneke’s 10th birthday open day, performance artist Kenneth Männchen the model for the paintings ‘The Golden Bird’, did a performance piece in response to the exhibition. Most of these photos were taken by my 12 year old son he has a good eye for composing photographs I think 🙂
The finished artworks shown in the exhibition ‘Retold’
All works are for sale. Please feel free to contact me if you have a query regarding the artwork. My contact details can be found on the ‘About Rebecca Holden’ page.