A terrible admission I’d be the first to agree, but it does beg the question…actually it begs two: should we make an effort to read books that are deemed to be ‘classics’ whether they appeal or not, and should people be allowed to create art about things that they clearly know nothing about.
I’ll have a stab at the first question secure in the knowledge that you’ll disagree with me and probably rightly so. I’m actually not a big reader of novels; text, graphic or otherwise. If I am spotted reading it’ll almost invariably be a copy of the Fortean Times, either the current issue or, when that’s been heartily devoured, a back issue to keep me going during the interminable wait for the next one. This will occasionally be punctuated with a book dealing with an equally obscure subject such as Jesus the Man by Barbara Thiering, which is my current bedside reading.
Even less frequently I’ll get all business like and read some blog posts on the values of content marketing and how it’ll make me a millionaire if I just spend 23 hours a day writing, which will apparently leave me plenty of time to create all the art I’ll be selling. (I’ll keep you posted on that one and if I’m writing blog posts from Santorini this time next year I’ll not only be as pleasantly surprised as you but I’ll have a few bloggers to heartily thank).
So the idea of reading a novel just because it’s considered a classic has never occurred to me, and my friend telling me that she’s forced herself to read a number of classics because she felt she ought to and found the experiences tedious to say the least has not inspired me to change my position. However, when I began the Spirits art project it was in part motivated by the idea of creating artwork based on places that I enjoy visiting. One of those places is Howarth, which is well known, if only to my friend who’s read all the classics, as the birthplace and home of the Bronte sisters, who are renowned and respected for their literary accomplishments but would no doubt consider, if they had still been with us, the pleasure that my friend gained from reading Wuthering Heights while all other classics had been consigned to the charity shop of failure as their crowning achievement.
If you’ve not visited Howarth, and it’s reasonably realistic for you to do so (i.e. you’re not reading this on a beach in Santorini) you must pay it a visit. It has a fabulously steep hill that some of the residents claim was used for the famous Hovis bread advert (although it was actually Gold Hill in Dorset) that is full of great little shops and cafes (and a few pubs) and plenty of history including the Brontë Parsonage Museum, housed in the very building that the sisters lived in. For those of an energetic nature, there’s also some lovely walks around the moors that were the inspiration for Emily’s Wuthering heights, including a trek to Top Withens, a dilapidated farmhouse that bears no resemblance to the description of Wuthering heights in the slightest but is still, allegedly, the inspiration for the house in the story.
To do a piece of art based on Howarth for Spirits that wasn’t in some way connected to the Brontes seemed even more of a travesty than my not having read the book. Howarth and the Brontes are so inextricably linked that it defines what Spirits is all about. Not to mention that there have been sightings of Emily’s ghost, which is not quite the spirit I had in mind (except for the Haunted York series .. more on that in a later post) but makes Emily irresistible as the subject…although you may have noticed that it’s not Emily in the drawing.
I’ll explain that in the next post…
And if you’d like to share that would be fab…