Muse n. The source of an artist’s inspiration.

In Greek and Roman mythology nine sister goddesses, the daughters of Zeus and Mnemosyne were muses who presided over the arts and sciences.

Muse v.  To think or meditate on a subject thoroughly and thoughtfully. Ponder, contemplate, ruminate.


About my work

Over the past three years I have been working on a project creating three dimensional figurative artworks in textiles, influenced by artists and their muses. It has involved researching artists’ work, distinguishing their painting styles and learning about the lives of their models, to enable me to capture the essence that characterises the muse and the style that reveals the artist.

I have worked professionally as an illustrator and textile artist since the mid eighties, specialising in batik portraiture, yet also experimenting in three dimensions and embracing all textile techniques.

    My interest in portraiture and love of textiles has naturally led me to the ‘doll’ as a vehicle to explore and re-interpret the female muse. I feel ambivalent using the word ‘doll’ because the word can often be used pejoratively, having domestic and infantile connotations. I would like to call my muses, soft sculpture, perhaps elevating the medium whilst also reclaiming the ‘female muse’ as a potent and compelling premise to inspire and inform.

Some of my Pre-Raphaelite muses were featured in the recent Pre-Raphaelite Sisters conference in York, alongside notable academics and historians, who were there to talk about women as artists throughout the Victorian age, and where their legacy will continue into the future.

Pre-Raphaelite muses from left: Fanny Cornforth, Beatrice Flaxman, Lizzie Siddal, Effie Gray, Georgiana Burne-Jones, Jane Morris and Fanny Eaton.


Marina’s Pre-Raphaelite Muses”, article in the Pre-Raphaelite Society Review, November 2019.  left   

After a talk at York University, during the ‘Pre-Raphaelite Sisters: Making Art’ conference.  right


The idea

Looking at paintings I am often drawn to the female subjects, the muses or models who imbue the artwork with their persona, and I wonder at how important they are in expressing the ideas of the painter; or is the artist imposing his story and ‘modelling’ her in his colours, his ideas? I think the relationship probably works in two ways, the model inspires the artist and becomes his muse: and she is then portrayed in ways that tell his or her story.
This can be seen especially in the works of Rossetti of the Pre-Raphaelites, also Burne- Jones, Botticelli, Modigliani, Mucha and Klimt as well as many others.


The beginning

Art, sewing and doll-making have been interests of mine since childhood, when at seven years old I was given my first Singer sewing machine.
At the time my mum was teaching fashion at St Martins School of Art and I was given off -cuts and scraps of fabric, always in dazzling colours and modern prints. I delighted in creating all types of dolls, clowns, and animals with my continuous supply of cottons, felts and slinky fabrics. As a teenager I was making rag dolls to commission, alongside drawing portraits, enabling me to earn my own money.
After my degree at Goldsmiths I worked as an illustrator, choosing batik as my medium. My enjoyment of fabrics continued in dressmaking and soft sculpture and is now finding a new direction in my art muses.

Combining my interest in art with my love of doll construction and dress making, seems a natural progression. The process of studying artists and their work is really enjoyable research, and allows me the pleasure of examining some of my favourite painters and their paintings in detail.

Information about the artist and the life story of each muse is recorded in detail here on my blog, which I hope you’ll find interesting.

Followers are welcome and comments are sincerely appreciated, so please feel free to write in the box at the very bottom of the blog pages. (unfortunately not this page).