Stories Behind The Pictures

Episode 2 Fun & Games & Dressing Up

I had embarked on the project to make some pictures to illustrate Deirdre McGarry’s “Lonely Destiny” poems. I was getting ideas & inspiration by looking at the work of 14th Century Italian painter Giotto. I discovered that art historians think that Giotto may have been influenced by medieval mystery plays and other kinds of street theatre in working out his dramatic and lifelike paintings. This gave me the idea of treating my illustrations as if they were scenes from a play of a film. I tried to do drawings in which I imagined such scenes, but they seemed a bit stiff and artificial, lacking the excitement and dynamism of the poems.

In order to inject more liveliness into the pictures I thought I would get people to act out the scenes. Deirdre was hosting and open weekend for writers and poets at her

house, and some of the participants were keen to get involved and join in. I decided to use situations in the poems as starting points and ask people to improvise a scene from these starting points. I gave people a brief description of a situation and left them to improvise some action based on this. For example; “Form into two groups one group lead a charge against the other,


while the other group try to defend themselves."


We got some props and costumes together and had a great day acting out these scenes in Deirdre’s back garden. Once the improvisation got underway I took loads of photos which I later used as a basis for a series of paintings. It’s amazing how quickly people lose their inhibitions and really get into the spirit of it. It didn’t take long before we were all like kids in a playground playing games of make believe we had some fun with it and I got some great photos. Even Deirdre’s dog joined in. Here are some more examples.

“Everyone has blindfolds on. Try to form into a group to escape from danger.”


“Some people are carrying books while others are trying to steal from you”


After all this exciting group activity it was back to solitary work in the studio. Surrounded by hundreds of photos I started the work of drawing and painting to transform our fun filled day of games and laughter into something darker and more dramatic to suit Deirdre’s poems. In the next episode – another unexpected development – a live performance and art in the shopping centre …………..

#Giotto #LonelyDestiny #Improvisation #Dressingup

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