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The Swan Series

The story within Tchaikovsky’s ballet ‘Swan Lake’ has changed very little since it premiered in 1877. It is a love story driven by unequal opposites, where the white swans are seen as pure, beautiful creatures and the black swan as an evil seductress whose actions thwart Prince Siegfried’s intentions and condemn Odette, the white Swan Queen, to death.

James Merrill’s poem, ‘The Black Swan’ (a term of affection for his teacher, Kimon Friar), runs contrary to a system that prioritises the colour white and subjugates the colour black. In his poem, the black swan calls out to “the child with white ideas of swans”, enchanting him & beckoning him “nearer to that green lake” where the blackness offers a splendour brimming with wonder.

At a subconscious level, the ballet and the poem carry both the desires & the anxieties of their authors, expressed in the binary opposition of black and white. Tchaikovsky’s homosexuality lies deep beneath the surface of his works, represented by Siegfried’s ‘shameful’ desire of the black swan Odile (the evil Baron Von Rothbert’s daughter in disguise). Merrill’s angst was much nearer the surface, with his black swan being an illustration of his “private chaos” but also a declaration that he loved Friar in spite of the “white ideas” that are fed to us throughout our childhoods.

Taking inspiration & using some of the symbolism from the Swedish artist Hilma af Klint’s Swan paintings, my series of eleven images attempts to address and, ultimately, counter the privileging of the colour white. Freed from prejudice and tradition, the final image sees black and white working in tandem to create a shared story of their own.

No.1 The Swan etc
The Swan No. 1

the beginning of insight: One of a limited edition of ten prints, printed on Hahnemühle Rag Paper, 44.5cm x 37.5cm (Framed) £265

The Swan No. 2

emerging: One of a limited edition of ten prints, printed on Hahnemühle Rag Paper, 44.5cm x 37.5cm (Framed) £265

The Swan No. 3

on encountering the masculine: One of a limited edition of ten prints, printed on Hahnemühle Rag Paper, 44.5cm x 37.5cm (Framed) £265

The Swan No. 4

emerging; a different perspective: One of a limited edition of ten prints, printed on Hahnemühle Rag Paper, 44.5cm x 37.5cm (Mounted) £150

The Swan No. 5

deception: One of a limited edition of ten prints, printed on Hahnemühle Rag Paper, 29cm x 36cm (Print only) £125

The Swan No. 6

in search of sorrow’s secret centre: One of a limited edition of ten prints, printed on Hahnemühle Rag Paper, 36cm x 29cm (Print only) £125

The Swan No. 7

the black swan; through the eyes of a child: One of a limited edition of ten prints, printed on Hahnemühle Rag Paper, 46cm x 38cm (Framed) £265

The Swan No. 8

remembering swans: One of a limited edition of ten prints, printed on Hahnemühle Rag Paper, 30cm x 37cm (Print only) £125

The Swan No. 9

a gentle swanning: One of a limited edition of ten prints, printed on Hahnemühle Rag Paper, 37.5cm x 44.5cm (Framed) £265

The Swan No. 10

the resolution of grief: One of a limited edition of ten prints, printed on Hahnemühle Rag Paper, 29cm x 36cm (Print only) £125

The Swan No. 11

black swan, white swan; parity and balance: One of a limited edition of ten prints, printed on Hahnemühle Rag Paper, 34cm x 34cm (Print only) £125

If you would like to purchase my artwork, please contact me

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