For any fan of the fantasy genre, one can hardly help but be influenced by the Arthurian legends in some way, there have been so many retellings of the basic story and it seems like every generation has it’s own new fresh take on it, whether filtered through Thomas Mallory, T. H. White, Marion Zimmer Bradley or any number of others. In my own head I have a seemingly perpetual mix of melodies by Lerner & Low and Monty Python vying for attention whenever the subject comes up.
With my current interest in (one might argue “obsession with”) Art Nouveau, as well as Celtic knot work, it seemed like a perfect medium to spin my own visions of that world, and to take it in a different direction from specifically fairy art.
LADY OF THE LAKE
The first in the Arthurian series, which I’ve dubbed “Avalon to Camelot”. I’ve long had a particular fascination with the character of the Lady of the Lake, and certainly my interest was renewed upon reading Marion Zimmer Bradley’s The Mists of Avalon and the subsequent books in the Avalon series written by her and Diana L. Paxson.
MORGAN LE FAY
These two were of a pair, both tied into the ambiance surrounding Avalon. Where The Lady has her swans and is at home among the cat tails and life of the lake, Morgan is all about mysteries and labyrinths, specifically the one tied in to Glastonbury Tor, which is featured in the borders. There are also some “death lilies” in there.
Having explored duality in these pieces I felt that the next part of the series could be a triptych indicative of the love triangle between Guinevere, Lancelot and Arthur, and unlike the first two, these three would be designed simultaneously.
This was actually inspired mostly by his appearance coming through the barley in Tennyson’s Lady of Shalott
At the center is of course Queen Guinevere, whose image is also something of an homage to a painting by John Everett Millais. The Pre-Raphaelites are another of my biggest sources of inspiration and artistic influence. In this case Guinevere is in the guise of the Flower Bride and holds the overall composition together with Maypole ribbons, which twine throughout all three images.
Where the first two images of bright Autumn and Spring days, Arthur is very much in twilight, physically and metaphorically. I have placed him during his final battle at the end of the age of Camelot, the knights of the Round Table represented in the border and the sun setting on Arthur’s reign.
I modeled for this image, slipper-clad in my living room.
Here is the triptych all together:
The next part of the series is Merlin, surrounded by the objects of his study, his familiar in this case being the owl of wisdom and ancient knowledge. His border elements include both Arthur’s Pendragon rampant and the Druidic Triskelion to identify him as belonging to both of those worlds. Stonehenge is also included because Merlin is sometimes associated with it.
The part of Merlin is played by my friend Paul, whose path I have crossed on numerous occasions over the course of several years. The first time I met Paul I had this image, or something very much like it, in mind and it was nice to see that notion finally come to fruition.
As to the future of the Avalon to Camelot series, I do have at least one more character in that play whom I’d like to depict, maybe more down the road.
The entire Fae Nouveau collection can be seen here
And of course there’s no place like home: www.herbleonhard.com