Monday, March 10, 2008

Midsummer Night's Dream Sculpture - A Fountain by Charles Vess

Charles Vess, that artist who knows Faerie so well - illustrator for Stardust and some of Neil Gaiman's Sandman, among many other wonderful projects - is together with artist David Spence in the late stages of a truly massive sculpting project - a fountain commissioned by the Barter Theater in Abingdon, Virginia featuring figures from A Midsummer Night's Dream - Titania the Queen of Faery; Robin Goodfellow, that merry wanderer of the night (see his form taking shape above); an assortment of woodland creatures and wild faeries leaping, like this one below, out of the marble with wild abandon:

Like a shrewd and knavish sprite myself, I am thieving this story shamelessly from the Endicott Mythic Arts blog, in case some of my readers do not know of the project or read the blog. (If you don't, you should!) Longtime readers of this blog may remember my passion for fairy tale statues.

The best news is that Charles Vess has offered a generous article at the Green Man Review chronicling the way that the project has taken shape - conception, design, and all the beautiful work and merry mishaps that then ensue. Of the making of Titania, Vess writes in jocular, if rueful, good humor:

We were, perhaps, a little more than a week away from completion when the faeries began to laugh at us mere mortals. I was working below the face you see above and heard a series of small cracks. I looked up and Queen Titania slowly leaned forward, bending over as if to kiss me perhaps? But that’s 300 or so pounds of clay we’re talking about. A central steel pipe had snapped and down she came, to rest gently on a scaffolding that I quickly swung under her form.

She has an air of having just stepped out of a mist or out of the hollow hills - of being only barely present in our world. Titania rises 16 feet high in the center of the fountain, as befits a Queen. 16 feet - think Michelangelo's David, and then consider that five centuries have not made the sculptor's task much easier than it was then. I encourage all our readers to visit Vess's article. It makes for an exciting read, and the photos of the sculptures are breathtaking. They are Charles Vess drawings sprung into three-dimensional life - something I had not even dreamed of when reading Stardust or other works. Now, seeing the sculptures, I wonder how I couldn't have dreamed of them. They are beautiful - though photos do sculptures no justice. Is anyone with me on wanting to check their spare change for a trip to this Virginia theater in a few months?

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