Wednesday 20 October 2021

Artistic streak

 I make no secret of the fact that my books are escapism - that's why I write them and that's how I want the reader to enjoy them. It's inevitable that the things that I get pleasure from find their way into the books - sunshine, food, beautiful surroundings, glamourous locations - in the case of A Villa in Portofino that includes an artistic element, as the book feature both poetry and painting. 

Chatterton's birthplace.
with plaque.
The wicker figure was
an art installation 
I'm not a poet or a painter, so the depictions came out of my imagination. While I enjoyed creating my precociously talented boy poet, you won't find any of his verses in the book. I wouldn't dare. I hope no one is disappointed about this. I enjoyed fabricating the subject of heroine Megan's doctoral thesis, who is loosely inspired by Thomas Chatterton, who was born and lived his early life in Bristol. Chatterton was born in a house close to St Mary Redcliffe church in Bristol and was possibly buried in the churchyard there. He was only seventeen when he died in London of poison, usually said to be suicide but possibly an accident. He was greatly admired by the Romantic poets Byron and Shelly as a lost genius.

My poet - Cosimo - is Italian and while Megan's doctoral thesis concentrates on his poetry there is a considerable mystery surrounding the poet himself, who might just be connected to the villa. It's one of several mystery threads that I enjoyed concocting. 

Alcinda's paintings came right out of my imagination. It was a little uncanny how clearly I could see them - first the series based on the overgrown garden of the villa and then a new group using Gideon as a model. I've no idea where Alcinda came from as a character and the paintings are equally mysterious. The idea of the gallery where she exhibits arose from a visit to Portofino many years ago, when I bought a print from a gallery - a watercolour of the village, which I love, but nothing at all like the art that Alcinda produces. It was the start point though and Alcinda and her art grew from that. 

I wish her paintings did exist because the ones in my imagination are spectacular. But the verse and art that lives in the imagination always is. 

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