Wednesday, April 20, 2011

more gormenghast

When I was in my early 20s, I read compulsively Mervyn Peake's trilogy, "Titus Groan", "Gormenghast" and "Titus Alone", a remarkable body of work which is, superficially, fantasy writing: Alas! it is too often dismissed as such. In fact, what Peake created was a fantastical portrait of a rigid, class-ridden society on the brink of collapse, a parable for Britain in the early-mid 20th Century.

As mentioned before, a gift of a polymer clay owl skull prompted me to create a piece based on an episode from the book in which Sepulchrave, 76th Earl of Groan, is driven to insanity by the burning of his library, the madness leading to him believing that he has become an owl.

This is where the piece has got to since that post:

Ceremonial Chain For Sepulchrave, 76th Earl Of Groan (WIP) 18

Overall form of the piece. The skull will sit in the central section and will wear the ruby-set crown.

Ceremonial Chain For Sepulchrave, 76th Earl Of Groan (WIP) 17

Hand-pierced and carved lettering on a scroll made from found, corroded iron. The "lens" elements are natural quartz cabochons, enamelled below and showing the letters "S" and "G" for "Sepulchrave Groan".

 Ceremonial Chain For Sepulchrave, 76th Earl Of Groan (WIP) 15
Closer view of the main piece. The corroded iron key is set with a peridot (tip), a garnet and a natural brown zircon. The section which holds the key is set with a tourmaline. The Section which holds the skull is set behind with an amethyst. The iron chain is set with garnets, quartz and petrified wood. 

It is the 100 year anniversary of Mervyn Peake's birth this year, so I'm very pleased that I had the opportunity to make this now.

I am currently torn between chapters of two unbelievably funny books just now: "I Think The Nurses Are Stealing My Clothes: The Very Best of Linda Smith" (a compilation of words by Linda Smith and writings about her by her friends and colleagues) and "It Just Occurred To Me: The Reminiscences and Thoughts of Chairman Humph" (a rambling memoir by Humphrey Lyttleton). It was pure chance that I came to be reading these simultaneously, having bought them both in charity shops when on book-less trips. In one way, it is lovely to be able to laugh at the humour of two of the people of whom I would class myself "a fan" but in another, it is really sad to remember that they have now gone and that those eagerly-awaited 6.30pm Radio Four slots will never be quite as funny as they once were.