We are absolutely thrilled to publish Benamon Tame’s latest article (#35) to his PictureBook Column with us. This is the first article of the New Year of his ‘Lost Toy’ series.
PictureBook is full of creativity and imagery in words and in pictures. It is a complete joy to read, view and publish – thank you Benamon.
The concept behind the PictureBook column is not just about capturing stories but creating them, the journey behind and the image we present. PictureBook draws on Images selected from Benamon’s own story series and also looks at the work of the other story tellers within the community’.
Over to you Benamon (foreword by Joanne Carter)…
‘The others avoided her, and even Babel let her be, his eyes could see the darkness she gathered round herself and the hunger for misery that had devoured all else she might have been and even the smallest hope that had launched her into this storm.
Like a floundering ship, her high hat its vain sails, she swayed and her eyes stared out into herself and a far shore that could not be reached. Her lips moved and muttered out a blur of word and deed, a calling from the depths, spilled from the images she cast into her mind and replaced without end to drag her down to tears’
Aibell is one of the Tearless. For many of the toys abandonment was too much and damaged their emerging minds and some like Aibell, came to believe that it was their own fault as a way to cope and find a small measure of sense and hope in their existence.
In their former lives they never returned the love and attention that was lavished on them so they were abandoned as punishment. Filled with remorse they now seek to atone and show their sorrow and love. Holding tears as the supreme manifestation of emotion they sit and stir their already damaged minds to try and induce tears, that they might be forgiven and loved again.
Aibell sits and fills herself with grief and bitter thoughts as penance for her imaginary crimes and to bring on a tear and fill the vial that gathers dust at her feet. But the toys cannot cry and beyond the Door there is no redemption.
While looking at Victorian funerary customs I came across the practice of Tear Catcher or Lachrymatory. Those who mourned the loss of a loved one would collect the tears and when they had evaporated the mourning period was over. The practice had it roots in ancient history but reappeared in the 19th century. The story echoed Queen Victoria’s perpetual state of mourning after the death of Prince Albert and illustrated another way some of the toys have reacted to their abandonment and attempts to find an action that will reverse it.
The dolls name comes from Irish mythology and the legends of the Banshee. A banshee was a fairy who would wail nearby when someone is about to die, Aibell was a Banshee queen who ruled over 25 other Banshee.
I went through several starts with the piece, trying to portray sadness and mourning in a smiling face. My initial idea was to have her in a veil but it obscured the face too much. I experimented with dried flowers as a headdress drawing from traditional eastern European styles and eventually settled on one with her hands over her face and to use the flowers as part of a headdress.
The headdress was taken from a shoot I had done with my daughter as part of my Byzantium series and using Juxtaposer more sections were used to build it up before the flowers were added, i had in mind she was wearing a bouquet of funeral flowers. The lachrymatory that I had created separately, was then added.
Texture was added using DistressedFx and then blended back into the original image using Juxtaposer, reducing it in places like the skirting board to add depth. More colour and texture were added using Snapseed with several blends back to the original before a final tune in Snapseed.
Unable to find an original Lachrymatory I liked within my props budget I decided to create my own. Starting with an Olive Jar i stretched it out and reshaped it using the FX tools in Leonardo. The metalwork detail was then added using another image i had created as part of my abstract series, ironically the image was created using a pile of rusty nails which i was using for a Lost Toy Room sculpture (still a work in progress!)
A top was added using a decanting glass top and more metalwork. An image of patterned wallpaper was then blended in to add pattern to the glass and the piece was fined in Snapseed.
‘The last clear memory she had was of the door closing, the cold echo of wood against wood. A vision of an executioner’s blade; its fall and bite into the block. The key turned and cut her deep.
She held on to that memory now; replayed it over and over, allowing every detail to magnify and resonate within her and cut her afresh. The sadness consumed her and yet it was not enough and her china eyes were ever dry’