Thursday, 26 August 2010

Las Meninas, Part 1

Sorry for the delay in posting my latest entry - things have been a bit chaotic - but here it finally is! Holly and I visited the Manchester Art Gallery and enjoyed wandering around all of the gallery spaces and exhibitions. We were both particularly drawn to the Pre-Raphaelite room - simply because the works seemed more intriguing and exciting. We both liked a couple of paintings - one of which was 'Work' (1852-1865) by Ford Madox Brown.

During the middle of the 19th century, the moral value of work was much discussed and this painting reflects this debate. The story behind the piece was really interesting and we also liked how there were hidden details everywhere you looked; there was lots of room for interpretation.

In the end, though, we both decided that the our favourite painting was 'The Lady of Shalott', an oil painting by William Holman Hunt which he produced between 1886 and 1905. The range of colour in the painting is what particularly caught our eye; it's so rich and intense.

The Lady of Shalott is a Victorian ballad by the English poet Alfred Tennyson (1809-1892). The poem describes how the Lady of Shalott was bound by a curse which forbade her to look upon the outside world. Isolated in a turret, she was forced to produce weavings of King Arthur's kingdom, her only guide being the reflections seen in a mirror. However, the singing of the knight, Sir Lancelot, seduces her into looking out onto the real world. The Lady's world begins to self-destruct like a tornado, but Sir Lancelot rides on; oblivious to her devastation.

The painting represents the Lady's failure to carry out her duties, perhaps alluding to human's lack of responsibility. The piece is so richly symbolic that there are endless possibilities to explore. I'm particularly interested in the idea of weaving - I experimented with paper weaving last year so it's something I'd like to try again.

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