This is Benamon’s 23rd article to his PictureBook column with is and it’s really special, possibly even more so than usual because this one is dedicated to another of our wonderful Columnists JQ Gaines. Last week, many of our Columnists and Contributors met up in London to socialise including JQ all the way from New York and Benamon from Cornwall. A great time was had by all, and amazingly JQ managed to find the doll that Benamon has used in this story among some rubbish bins. It’s so fabulous, I’ll let Benamon tell you more, just don’t miss this…(foreword by Joanne Carter).
‘The Mortality of Toys – Celeste’ – ©Benamon Tame
Celeste had found herself in the company of Muse and Grub.
She had taken pity on the strange couple and had begun to spend her time with them, listening to Muses memory filled whispers, of the bright days when the room was open and the laughter of children filled every space. She would search with Grub for the small creatures he used on Muse and also her broken parts, hidden in spite by the other toys.
Once a fine porcelain shard was found and she watched in wonder as Grub gently carried in back and laid it upon her, the fragment drawn into the gap like a magnet and then seamless as if it had never been apart. The only evidence was the look upon Muses face and the sigh of happiness upon her cracked lips.
But Celeste’s kindness had caught Babel’s eye and one day she disappeared.
Time passed in the strange half way that moves through the lost toy Room and eventually she was returned.
Grub saw her first, stumbling back from some dusty edge of the Toy Room, her eyes dim and unfocused; her steps hesitant and uncertain like it was the first day again.
He called to her but she did not see him and continued on. As she drew closer he could hear the slow record crackle of her voice on repeat
‘Jacqueline found me. Jacqueline found me.’
She passed him in stumble and mumble, heading towards Muse more by luck than design, and in her wake she left dusty footprints like orchid petals
Celeste was a normal toy, as much as normal can be used for any who resided in the Lost Toy Room, she liked to play with the small bright rosemary beetles that scuttled round the room, balancing one on top of another to build brief towers of metallic green and twitching legs.
It was after chasing a beetle she came across Grub who was using them to make eye-liner for Muse. She had started to befriend the odd couple before she went missing.
When Celeste reappeared she was a changed toy, much of her memory and personality was scrambled, returning to her in flashes or in foggy recollection. She could not remember where she had been or who even Jacqueline was, though the sentence remained and would often fall from her lips as if of its own accord. But the biggest change was her appearance, she had started to age and decay and as it became more apparent the other toys started to shun her and pity turned to fear. Grub’s attentions could not hide the cracks and so he took her to Syster who despite her best attempts could do no better, a spare leg refusing to take when her own had crumbled and fallen away. Syster now keeps her hidden at the back of her workshop, her one leg tethered so she cannot wander off, and watches her fade. Celeste does not say much now, trapped in a tumble of thoughts and the weight of time, though the passing of bright beetles still gives her a smile.
‘The Mortality of Toys. Typewriter remix’ – ©Benamon Tame
Babel watches on and knows but he will not say.
Celeste was named after the Marie Celeste which was an infamous sailing ship which disappeared and was found intact but with the crew missing, the story echoed Celeste’s as one who disappeared and returned but with something missing. In this case her mind and that part of every ‘Lost Toy’ that gave them their strange immortality.
The story of Celeste adds to several strands of the wider narrative and background, touching on the physiognomy of the Lost Toys and the plans of Babel.
Where Celeste went and the cause of her malady will be revealed elsewhere.
‘Time will burn her’ – ©Benamon Tame
The doll itself was an unplanned (but never unwanted!) addition to the Lost Toy Room. Recently I met up with a group of other artists from the community, (You know who you are!) in London, for a meet and photo walk. It was during the wanderings JQ Gaines came across the doll which had been thrown away. I don’t usually bin raid (skips are another thing entirely) but I didn’t want to see it abandoned so took it in. I wanted to bring a bit of this into the piece, keeping her recognizable with the missing leg as a feature.
‘Crutch’ – ©Benamon Tame
I started off by building her a crutch, I have started work on several original Lost Toy sculptures and used the same materials, trying to only use materials that might be found in the room and put together in a half knowing half childish manner.
‘Celeste stages’ – ©Benamon Tame
From there I set up the piece using other props I had gathered and then edited using the following Apps: ProCamera, Juxtaposer, Snapseed, Pictureshow, Blender and Iris Photo suite. Labelbox, Lo-Mob, Scratchcam, Glaze, Leonardo and DistressedFX were also used for the remixes.
Dedicated by Celeste to JQ Gaines.