Finnegans Wake and Molly Bloom at the Ulster Hall Belfast

The UWA 56th Annual Exhibition will be on show in the Ulster Hall, Belfast, from 8th to 29th November 2013
Opening Hours - Monday to Saturday, 10am to 5pm

I will be exhibiting two pieces in this year's show. Both paintings are Joycean-themed works; one entitled "Mememormee" from Finnegans Wake, which incorporates Joyce's death mask as part of a seascape; the other "Her Breasts All Perfume", in which I depict Molly Bloom as Earth Goddess.  Both paintings are done in Watercolour with hand-painted paper and lace paper collage.

"Mememormee" - Finnegans Wake  16 x 20 "

“Mememormee” Finnegans Wake

I am not a scholar of Joyce. But from what I have read I can say that his genius is remarkable.  When working on some pieces for an exhibition on Joycean-themed images I started to explore the writings of Joyce from a different viewpoint.  I wondered what it must have been like to be in his head with so many overlapping ideas, words, and imagery.  It seemed to me that Joyce wanted to encompass more than just mere words in his writing.  His invented language for Finnegans Wake comes alive when it is read aloud and on hearing this, I started to “see” images in the sounds.

“Mememormee”, is a painting that started with a portrait done from Joyce’s death mask.  While working on it I became aware that I was entering an other worldness.  While I painted I heard repeatedly the words, in memorium, in memorium...  The Word, Mememormee, taken from the last passage of Finnegans Wake where Annalivia Plurabelle is dying, suited the sounds that I was intuitively hearing, so this became the title of the painting.

While working abstractly I often reach a place in the painting where I have to ‘listen’ to the painting in order to know what happens next.  It cannot be worked through as an intellectual process, rather an intuitive one. As I painted, night-time images and sounds of the sea entered my mind in waves and I stared to see an imaginary seascape at night of the view from the back of Joyce’s Tower.  However, the physical image of the Tower is not present in the painting.  I felt it didn’t need to be there as Joyce’s craggy profile embodied the spirit of the Tower.  The waves from the sea wash over his memory, crashing and lashing against the visionary words contained in Finnegans Wake. 

As a visual artist, I felt the need to physically reunite the last and first sentences of the book in a patchwork of torn collage amidst the splintered shoreline of the coast, which contains the memories of my youth, as well as being the setting for many of Joyce’s works.

"Her Breasts All Perfume" Molly Bloom 20 x 16 "

“Her Breast’s All Perfume”   Molly Bloom’s Soliloquy from Ulysses

What can I say about the inspiration for this piece?  Yes!  I love it and have used Molly Bloom’s soliloquy from Ulysses many times in my work.  Her words appear as torn scraps of exclamations amidst many of my highly decorative and textured flower paintings.  However, this is the first time that I have combined these words as collage with one of my nudes. 
As a lover of colours and Klimt, I gave this painting my “all” in terms of gesture and adornment.  The sensuality of Molly’s prose equalled my passion for painting it, and I really went to town on the overt nature of this piece of writing from Joyce.  While sketching some of the preliminary work, I experimented with using different colours and styles for the setting.  Molly’s thoughts flit like butterflies on the breeze and I thought it would be fun to produce a series of sketches on the different ‘moods’ of Molly. “...Shall I wear a red Yes...” expresses a whimsical side to this Earth Goddess (as seen in the small sketch).  Whereas the excerpt “...and drew him down to me so he could feel my breasts all perfume...” reveal the power of womanhood at its best.
"...Or Shall I Wear a Red...Yes..."

Kate BedellComment