Just finished another of my story collages.
(20 x 20 x 3.5 cm)
Her story is:
'At night, when the sea had quietened down, she would listen to the stories told to her by the souls of the lost and drowned fishermen whom she had collected since she was a girl and kept safe in nests of shell and phials filled with sand.'
It was inspired by a short story I wrote after visiting Brighton two Novembers back, which was in turn, inspired by the tale 'The Soul Cages' which I came across in W. B. Yeats' collection 'Irish Fairy and Folk Tales.' I highly recommend the collection.
My collages always start with a photograph. I buy these from a stall at London's Spitalfields Antiques Market. They date from the second half of the nineteenth century. That's also where I purchase the antique letters I use in many of the collages.
Then I slowly build up the collage / assemblage around the woman in the photo. It's mostly photos of women that I tend to buy and use. Occasionally a man or child, but these are the ones which usually speak to me.
I try different ideas out. Laying on different papers, pressed flowers, pieces of pottery, pebbles, beads. I have a small collection of porcelain doll limbs and torsos dating back to the eighteenth century from a now defunct German doll factory.
(These are certainly not made in a pet-free studio)
Items get moved around, discarded, brought back. It's a process that takes place over a number of days as I usually have to let things sit for a while and return to them with fresh eyes to know whether they're working or not.
Once I have - more or less - the design I want, I start to jot down notes about the woman's story in a journal for this purpose. I have an initial brainstorming session, then usually have to leave it and return a couple more times until I have the fragment of story figured out.
I type it, print it out, paint it with watercolours to match the collage, and attach it.
Some of my recent ones have had mini journals included. I make the journals, then either attach them permanently, or in a way that they can be taken off and even used if wished.
This is one of my smallest ones. About 2.5 x 2.5 cm, with hand torn, tea stained pages, Florentine marbled endpapers, leather cover and tie, and mini collage of pressed flower and scrap of antique letter on the front.
Here she is on a wall.
She can be seen in my Etsy shop: