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  • Niloufar Lovegrove

Four Gray Walls & Four Gray Towers


17 May 2023

This image is Howard Pyle's illustration of Lady Shalott weaving on her loom for Alfred Tennyson poem that I was lucky turning the pages of the original book, at the State Library of Queensland.

Have you read the poem or do you know the story of it? The story is the portrayal of the ever so graceful lady Shalott who can not leave her tower due to an unknown curse, she spends her time in solitude, weaving steadily day and night inspired by the reflections of the outer world on her mirror. If you don't know the story, I won't be spoiling the details but you may wish to read the original lines since knight and burgher, lord and dame know her name.

I've to admit that it's unimaginable for me to know the feelings of being physically settled into such an uninterrupted chain-less imprisonment so my mind wanders for emotional assimilations.

A n d t h i s is most of what I am doing at the moment! Digging deep into the emotional side of the story, longing to settle with some lines where her case of factual or fictitious character dispute is taking place, to create a set of illustrations. The illustrations will be used in a collaboration that I have been much looked forward to with fellow artist the wonderful Derek Lamb of Officiana Athelstane.

The process has taken me back to the memories of reading One Thousand and One Night chapters, where I can recall more familiar wonders of the landscape. For that reason, I will be separating the storyline from its original landscape and relocating it from Camelot to Persia. I feel the new interpretation will brave a wider audience to browse lines of this Medieval poem and pause to recollect their own experience, to sympathise the pain endorsed, to respect the courageous disobedience and to share a universal human feelings ride.

From all various possible symbolic meanings of the story, what scenario does it awaken in you to think about a curse, imprisonment, solitude or an artist creativity whose only source to the outer world is a mirror and her only medium is threads. I would be all ears if you'd like to share your reflection.


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