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South of the Sun image

Updated: Jul 19, 2021

This image was created for one of the tales in the 'South of the Sun: Australian fairy tales for the 21st century' anthology. I was given a tale to respond to, which was Danielle McGee's Origami Wife ... which is a Selkie tale (the editors know me so well).

An initiative of the Australian Fairy Tale Society, this illustrated book of intercultural contemporary Australian fairy tales has been in the works for at least 3 years with a dedicated volunteer committee devoting many many hours of work. I submitted the image in 2019 - and had to keep quiet about it for a whole year. I'm excited about it because it is a development in my arts practice creating this sort of assemblage. I want to try another.

All the paper and found objects packed away in a box for now.

Materials and symbolism: Constellation is made up of hand-printed and folded paper to create the background which represents the sea and the shore. ..(you can't see the details but there are spirals worked into the colours). One cm or so above the folded paper is a sheet of glass, lifted so that the lights can cast shadows on the paper folds (one white light top left and a warmer light bottom right). On the surface of the glass is a slumped glass seal face. The human hair is there to reference the shapeshifting aspect of the selkie (and it kind of looks like seaweed). The shells and pumice that I have collected from various Australian beaches place the image more firmly on the shore or beach. The mother of pearl buttons allude to the selkie's coat, buttons I think reference clothing very neatly. The ring stands in for relationships & promises from the past, the key for potential and secrets (I can't resist adding a key!). The needle and thread also represent relationships but in a more active way of stitching things together, the red thread is for the blood that unites a family. I hope you can see the stars in the right-hand side of the Selkie's face and the contrast of light can reference night and day. I hope people will interpret their own meanings to the objects I have assembled.

I realised with this project, that I'm not practised in illustrating. The image doesn't illustrate the story I was given at all, but I hope it adds an atmosphere to the reading of the tale.

Above is a process shot - while I was working out my composition, but it does show you the layers of materials. And below the paper I printed and then folded to create the waves, see this post for paper folding.

I plan to develop the components into a new work which will be contained in a 'sea chest' so that it can be shown as an object.

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