Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Stories in Landscapes


I feel that, under pressure of recent social events, I have been neglecting the ‘creative writing’ dimension of this blog, its aspiration to generate more Morrisian text, to finish his uncompleted works or to speculate on the shape and sources of new ones; and this is an emphasis that can apply to Morris’s circle as much as the man himself.

Georgiana Burne-Jones, for example, informs us that her husband ‘enjoyed making up stories about his backgrounds, as he painted them’, which might license us to make up our own stories on the basis of such haunting paintings as ‘Golden Stairs’ and ‘Mirror of Venus’. Such new tales may prove a good deal more disturbing or even science-fictional than you might at first think. ‘Now and then I want to see Hell in a landscape’, Burne-Jones himself remarked, criticising the too placid scenery of Surrey; and he once, according to his wife, offered ‘a description, I remember, of an era when “giant white cockroaches” reigned supreme’. Not Rise of the Planet of the Apes, then, but Rise of the Cockroaches instead.

So get down to your local museum or art gallery, locate its Burne-Jones holdings, and wait in front of them, pen and notebook in hand, until narrative inspiration descends.

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