January 2012


Illustration Friday: Forward

Lydia Bennett, one of the least reticent of Austen’s characters, is rapidly becoming my favourite to draw. She’s the most appallingly selfish girl, but utterly consistent in her thoughtlessness. I enjoy the variant readings of her character (does she deliberately set out to ruin her sister’s reputations in childish revenge?) and she frustrates me whenever I read Pride and Prejudice (which as it is one of my father’s favourite books I do frequently), but each time I draw her I like her more than before.

So this is a very… pink collection of Lydia sketches. I see Emma and Marianne as being much pinker girls, generally, but these sketches turned out to be a very bubblegum reading of her character, so it seemed apt.

You can see a larger version here on Flickr.

Dalek and Hemlock

This instalment of the Dalek Game is for Diana Wynne Jones’ Fire and Hemlock, which is… not as gothic as the cover on Amazon would make it appear.

I cannot choose a favourite Diana Wynne Jones novel. They are all luminous and familiar and unexpected, braiding science fiction, parallel worlds, fantasy, history, the awful ordinary trials of every day life (indeed, Awful from Archer’s Goon is one of my favourite secondary characters) and frequently (though not in Fire and Hemlock) the complications families bring to adventures. Fire and Hemlock, however, is one of the novels I most frequently reread.

Fire and Hemlock is part reworking, part continuation of the story in the ballad of Tam Lin and is a story of friends and language, cellists and hardware stores, idle stories coming true, forgotten friends, the varied uglinesses of the human back and the dangers of wandering into other people’s funerals. It is a light and luminous story with an almost completely impenetrable ending.

It is a good ending. I am always certain of that. I am sure it is a happy ending – I feel happy and satisfied whenever I read it. But working out how it is good, convincing my head as well as my heart, is an exercise I repeat on every reread. It is part of the power and charm of the book.

(If you’ve read the novel already, this is one of several articles which I’ve found helpful in deciphering the exact mechanics of the end: Fire and Hemlock reconsidered, but there are others out there. ETA: Here’s another: We only live, only suspire / consumed by either fire or fire – the novel isn’t “literary” but it is tremendous fun to examine from that angle).

In other news: I am planning to go to North America in November for World Fantasy and maybe also Illuxcon!

Dalek and Cwidder

This instalment of the Dalek Game is for Diana Wynne Jones’ Cart and Cwidder, the first book of the Dalemark Quartet (you almost got The Spellcoats the other week).

One of the most memorable aspects of Dalemark is the range of technologies in a fantasy setting. Cart and Cwidder seemed (at first reading) the most traditional of Diana Wynne Jones’ fantasies – the family of travelling musicians in a semi-medieval setting – until the moment when someone is almost shot by a bullet, and then I realised that it was simply a situation of countries with different levels of industrialisation. The series moves between epic past and highly developed futures, between green ways and pipers and magic on the one hand and trains and planes and schools at the other, without ever leaving its own world (unlike Dark Lord of Derkholm, which is a direct intrusion by our world, and The Power of Three which, well, just read that one). Now that I think about this, C. S. Lewis touched on this in Narnia, with the institution of schools and factories and so forth in Prince Caspian and (it is intimated) The Last Battle, but industrialisation in Narnia is just as much a sign of decay as in The Lord of the Rings whereas in Jones it is a natural progression, as real and morally neutral as spells woven into the fabric of coats.

In other news, I am writing this in the middle of a group of friends designing tea labels, writing haiku and looking up Romeo and Juliet (and the Disney Robin Hood) on YouTube which is a very agreeable way to spend the evening, although it has been raining and the waters are rising again.


 

 

Illustration Friday: Twirl

“And then… her shoe elastic snapped!
Up into the air there flew a tiny silken ballet shoe…”

Long before (well, 6 years before) Angelina Ballerina, there was Dilys the Dachshund, who shot to unexpected fame after being spotted by a talent hawk and drawing violent attention to herself while playing a cygnet in Swan Lake.

Dilys was read/sung by Harry Secombe (yes, of the Goon Show) on the strange wonderful album Captain Beaky and his Band which features the collected vocals of Keith Mitchell, Harry Secombe, Twiggy and Jeremy Lloyd (in so many ways: yes, really!). It is the sweetest, most innocent, oddest album and peopled with memorably eccentric characters: the ghostly ginger cat (in plimsolls and a paper hat, Wilfred the Weasel (seized by artistic doubt), the haunting forest strains of “My Best Friend”, the great traditional Scottish haggis hunt (“they’re flying upside-down and low!”) and the faithful, environmentally conscious Herbert the Hedgehog. The lyrics are on this fan site: Beaky! (and his band), but if you have any way to do so, listen to the originals. Force them on unsuspecting friends and small defenceless relatives. It will warp their minds wonderfully.

 

Where the Dalek meets the Sea

This instalment of the Dalek Game is for Jeannie Baker’s beautiful (and Australian classic) picture book Where the Forest meets the Sea.

My favourite of her books is the less Dalek-suited Home, a wordless picture book which traces the development of an inner-city Australian neighbourhood over two decades using the view through a single window. I saw her original three-dimensional collage artwork for that book once at the Museum of Brisbane – remarkable and beautiful. The picture book makes me cry, but many do.

In other news: The original art of Wednesday’s A Tale of Two Bad Daleks is still available until Wednesday 25 January , if you would like to put in a bid to support the MS Society.

A Tale of Two Bad Daleks

This instalment of the Dalek Game is for Beatrix Potter’s beautiful A Tale of Two Bad Mice. I have mentioned before (“Scary“) how I like stories which play with the unsettling proportions of dolls houses. A Tale of Two Bad Mice does this, but with such loving detail that it isn’t scary so much as it is a solid, real little world – I used to get as frustrated as the mice did when item after item turned out not to be real: the coffee which was beads and the plaster ham stuck to its dish. Poor Hunca Munca and Tom Thumb.

The MS Society in Queensland has a holiday house for people with MS and their families on the edge of the broadwater at Runaway Bay. It is a beautiful location – it has its own jetty and pelicans sit on the pylons, schools of butterfly-bright sailing boats go out in classes and overturn and run into each other – but was used as a set for (I think) the second Flipper movie. As a result, in addition to the disorienting effect of halls built for wheelchairs and hospital beds, a number of the cupboards in the kitchen weren’t really cupboards at all – just doors nailed to boxes on the walls left over from the filming. I think they installed real cupboards a year or two ago, but I used to sympathise with the Bad Mice.

SO, if you would like to own this Dalek drawing (it is drawn in sepia ink on an A6 piece of paper: 5.8×4.1 inches), the original is available in exchange for a suitably generous donation to the MS Society. How it works:

  1. Please email me a bid on or before next Wednesday 25 January with the amount of your bid (in Australian dollars): tanaudel at gmail dot com
  2. Depending on internet access, I may update this from time to time with the highest bid, but no guarantees. Edit: At 21 January, the highest bid is $100.
  3. If you make the highest bid over my reserve (which is “suitably generous”), I will let you know by email.
  4. The winner will then have to send me evidence of a donation to the MS Society of Qld.
  5. I will send out the art (and pay postage).
  6. Maybe we find out more about MS.
  7. Artist’s decision is final etc.

1 Feb 2012: The Daleks have gone to a good home and $100 to the MS Society – thank you!

Dalek Knits

I originally intended this instalment of the Dalek Game to be for Diana Wynne Jones’ beautiful Dalemark novel The Spellcoats. Then I remembered a book I thought I had hallucinated, but which truly exists: Vampire Knits. I have not read it – you may recall that I am capable of knitting but am a conscientious objector. If I were to get too close to a physical copy of this book I would probably fall into a fit of hysterical giggling (I have this condition…) but it is rather wonderful: “Whether you are wandering the Carpathian Mountains or the bayous of Louisiana, these smoldering projects—for knitters of all levels—will keep you well protected, no matter what you attract.”

In other news: There is a Diana Wynne Jones Dalek in the offing.

 

 

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