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Leda and the Swan

I participated in the “On Form" exhibition @ the Collective at the beginning of this month. This exhibition honors the work and life of Durban artist Martin Burnett who died in January this year.

Burnett had collected 30 paper machè mannequin busts which 30 KZN artists re- interpreted decorate and re-imagined. "Burnett stood in solidarity with women in abusive relationships and supported initiatives which assisted abused women and children. To this end, the exhibition will be a fund raiser for two important organisations" that work towards the prevention of abuse of women & children. source

I went to pick up a paper machè bust half way through April. The bust I chose reminded me of a bird when viewed from the side. I was immediately reminded of the story of the mythical story "Leda and the Swan" in which the god Zeus seduced, or raped, Leda in the form of a swan. Leda later gives birth to an egg from which the gods of war hatch.

Sam my Spynx cat is pictured here inspecting the original bust before I started working on it.

I covered the paper mâché bust in plaster, pressing real feathers into the plaster. I then painted a swan's neck between the breasts of the torso with it's head curling around the neck of the sculpture. The sculpture was then stained brown & sanded down so that the imprinted feathers would stand out. The resulting piece had too many contrasts so I softened it with white spray paint. I finished off the piece by collaging printed feathers, text from Yeat's poem written out in my own handwriting & sealing the whole thing in layers of resin & wax.

Reader Comments (2)

I LOVE this, the textures and the whimsical feel, the tones and line...........must confess I had to touch and feel.............little bit of a tactile fiend.

May 22, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterGwynn Smith

It's always been a favourite poem of mine. I love Yeats, and I love that poem. However, it is all rather academic and abstract. When I see your artwork, i understand how the tactile process concretises one's perception and understanding is deepened. The way you have shaped the breasts on the swan's chest makes her more human and female than my intellect made her, and I am able to appreciate the poem much more deeply. Synthesis of so many different levels and the feathers, soft and whispery, must make it feel more swanly. I love your own writing on it, too. Great work, Joan!! If I had the bucks I would pester you for this!!

May 22, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterBrenda Pratt

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