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Creation (Monster)

This piece connects us with one of the great, gothic creation stories; Frankenstein, written by Mary Shelley. This piece echoes the main themes in Mary Shelley’s brilliant novel Frankenstein and captures the transformational period in which she lived.

At the turn of the 19th century, the public were obsessed with science and the idea of artificially creating life; actually (re)animating life-forms. Experimentation proliferated, with sometimes shocking results. Mary grew up hearing of scientific experiments and ethical debates. A liberated and independent teenager she ran away with the rakish poet Percy Shelley who himself was also a keen, amateur scientist.

Central to Mary’s story is an innocent creature, created by science and a cruel maker.  The creature only becomes monstrous after experiencing hatred, pain and rejection. Mary had run off with a wild poet, wandered all over Europe, had a child and had written one of the great gothic novels before she was 19.  She gave birth four times, and watched helplessly as all but one of her beloved children died before the age of two.  Science could not help her now.  Mary’s sister committed suicide.  Death, depression and poverty followed. She and Percy were outcasts.  The final blow occurred in 1822 when Percy drowned.  Mary became a famous (or infamous) author in the wake of these tragedies.

Central to this piece is a  fragment of scientific, Victorian glass lantern slide framed by a dark, antique, steel buckle. It shows the beginning of creation - a basic form of underwater life. It is possible that Mary herself would have seen a similar lantern slide projected at scientific lectures in London. When Mary wrote Frankenstein she was still so young. Her writing is  filled with social and moral commentary, yet there is often a naive purity about it. From the chain a pen nib hangs, bound heavily in black wire. The brutal method of construction and fastening references the making of the monster. Yet, in the beginning there was an innocence to the monster.  He is Mary’s beloved creature. Tiny pearls hanging from the hammered, vintage trouser closure reflect this innocence in the midst of darkness.

Steel chain, Antique Steel Buckle, Victorian glass lantern slide, Victorian jet beads, faux pearls, pen nib, brass, wire


This piece has been sold.