Here are a three images of the first pot in the 'Molly's Odyssey' series for Francis Kyle Gallery, to be shown as part of the group exhibition in which all 25 of his artists take part. This year's show, 'Jumping For Joyce,' scheduled for July 3rd-September19th this year, is based on the novels of James Joyce. I've chosen to concentrate on the last chapter of Ulysses, 'Penelope,' in which Molly Bloom muses on life, love, sex - especially sex - men and women, her bottom and her breasts and just about everything else. Reading this famous 'soliloquy' made me think that were Molly alive today, and not a fictional character, she would be a first rate writer of 'bonkbusters.'
There's Nothing Like A Kiss
The Sunday Times best selling novelist, writer of 'sizzling bonkbusters,' Rebecca Chance, has generously agreed to be my 'Molly Bloom.' In this first pot, 'There's Nothing Like a Kiss,' Molly, the fictional character, appears both as herself, lying on the bed, thinking, and also reinterpreted as Rebecca Chance, writing the remembered first kiss in Gibraltar, 'by the Moorish wall.'
Chance's novels go into forensic detail when it comes to fashion: we know the weight of the silk, the softness of the suede, the cut of this and edging on that, what the beads are made of and with what kind of thread they are sewn into place. Lace is never just lace, we can almost see and hear the bobbins clattering as the stuff is painstakingly produced to adorn a catwalk confection. It's not just the sex scenes that are graphic, the textiles are too, fetishistically so. And so it is with Molly's fantasies about shopping trips with her lover who will buy her gorgeous new chemises, silk petticoats and camisoles. I have tried to do justice to the softness of the silk petticoats that Rebecca Chance wore when she posed for the photographs, (photographer Krystyna Fitzgerald-Morris), and to the folds and flecks of colour. The shades of black were particularly challenging and wonderful to paint - albeit that painting with slips is a hazardous business since, ultimately, it is the kiln that decides whether or not the colour comes out right.
There is an abundance of roses on this pot. Molly says that she'd 'love to have whole place swimming in roses' so I have provided as many as possible. I too love roses and grow as many as possible - the rose on this pot is called, 'Alchemy.' It was a gift from my mother. There is a certain reticence among potters about mixing pink roses with pots. Many consider it 'kitsch.' I do not. I do consider their reticence a touch misogynist however. It derives from the often repeated anxiety that pots are 'seen as feminine' (Grayson Perry 2002), and that painted pots, in particular, are 'decorative...' 'decorative' being a disparaged concept, you understand, being inherently feminine.
One of the things I LOVE about Rebecca Chance's writing is her feminism. It's a thread that runs throughout the novels that I've read and never fails to leave you feeling good about being a woman. I have gone out of my way to make proudly feminine pots, consistent with my own desires but also with Molly's character, Rebecca Chances' writing and with her characters.