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Annabel Pyke

The Birth of Venus? - REVERSED



For our final project, the theme chosen was Memories and Fragments. This inspired me to firstly look inwards at myself—at my personal history and all the varying parts of myself that make up me. Following this theme of ‘self’, I drew inspiration from artists and artworks I loved; pieces that have inspired my own artistic expression and art, and decided to channel my passion for them into re-creating a favourite piece into a personal memory, as a way to incorporate both elements of memories and fragments. I settled on The Birth of Venus by Sandro Botticelli, and decided to base the memory on the breakdown of my parents’ marriage and it’s profound effect on me. To create this piece, I started by making three A3 drawings of the three main focal points of my piece--two single figures and a couple in a forced embrace. I copied these onto separate etching plates, and used black ink. I pressed them all onto a single piece of fabric to create the scene and added embroidery to incorporate colours similar to that featured in The Birth of Venus, to tie it all back to the original inspiration. I added flowers, and the outline of a white-flowered mantle using red thread. I wanted my piece to lean heavily into symbolism, so every part added had meaning behind it. The figures in the work represent (from left to right): the physical manifestation of my mental illness, beckoning the figure in the centre to it under the guise of offering comfort; with its mantle covered in baby’s breath, meaning compassion, trust, innocence. The figure is covered in eyes—this represents the I constantly feel watched, supervised, judged—by myself, in my head, and by others. The figure in the centre represents me. It’s plain, and was given the least amount time and care. The final figures represent my parents in a one-sided embrace; my mother clinging other my father, who is trying to leave. From his mouth, he blows wind, pushing the figure in the centre, aka, me, toward the figure on the far left. The wind is a direct reference to the original Birth of Venus, as Zephyrus, a wind god, does so to Venus. Beside those figures, are seven forget-me-nots, each representing someone I’ve lost, who’s leaving, and conflict, further lead me to the same metaphorical figure on the left. For viewers looking at my piece, I want to show them this small fragment of myself—as, even though this is a painful memory, it is one that has shaped me into the person I am today, and lead me here to create this final piece.