The other day me and Beth Dawson (on my MA with me, and no I can't be grammatically correct just for my blog) went to listen to Audrey Niffenegger talk at Camberwell University in London. If you don't know her work she wrote (and illustrated half) these books below:
and my all-time favourite (which started my love for Niffenegger):
We were enthralled with the talk and everything Niffenegger had to offer, she's influenced my work a great deal and I really look up to her style. Her stories delve into the imaginary and surreal, they're dramatic but delicate and she uses such dark subject matters which usually leave the main character broken.
To give you some idea of how to read her quotes in this post; she had a strong American accent and a fierce look in her eye. She's a very clever, quick lady who isn't afraid to speak her mind. She has long red hair and wore glasses perched on the end of her nose. Here are some of my notes from the talk:
Niffenegger suffers from insomnia and was saying how in a way it's a kind of blessing because when she does sleep she has brilliant dreams which influence her storie. She writes down her dreams then works on them to create a story board and character depth.
'I'm a terrible insomniac. Whenever I get some sleep it's like a huge event, it's very exciting.'
The dreams the main character has of being pregnant in 'The Time-Traveller's Wife' were taken straight out of Niffenegger's diary, 'Directly from my secret file', as was also The Adventuress. 'The Adventuress was based on a bunch of dreams i'd had about a girl who wore no clothes but wore gloves and a skirt, like a little cartoon character who had no story to be in.'
'Siamese Twins' Self-Portrait, Niffenegger
It was a collaboration set between her and a group of friends, trying to visualise difference and the feeling of being outside of normal. Above is her self-portrait from the series.
'Prudence' by Niffenegger
Prudence was a character created for a story Niffenegger wrote to tie in with 'The Field Guide To Poisonous Plants'.
She's a girl suffering from anorexia who has dieted herself into a coma and is being enticed into death by a skeleton and his parties.
'One of the themes that runs through my books are people who exert extreme amount of control over their bodies.' Niffenegger
'I could draw skeletons forever.'Niffenegger
Erin Morgenstern 'The Night Circus'
Fiction and non-fiction writing as well as other artists are great sources of inspiration, i've tried to write down as many as Niffenegger mentioned. She really raved about 'The Night Circus', claiming it to be a brilliant read and one of her personal favourites.
Niffenegger said that Erin Morgenstern's description of this circus made no logical sense- it could never have existed, but the way she spoke about it - the visuals it created in Niffenegger's mind - were so strong that it didn't matter.
Untitled 'Vivian Girls' Scenes by Henry Darger
Niffenegger referred to Henry Darger as an artist she has been heavily influenced by over the years and a great artist to look at. He's someone I've already spent time researching thanks to a lecture given by Margaret Huber(my MA Tutor, mentioned in earlier posts).
He's classified an Outsider Artist, but he died before his work was ever seen. His landlords found his ridiculously large volume of work and decided to publish it. He used collage, stencils, watercolour and drawing to create a story which spanned tens of thousands of pages, entitled 'The Story of the Vivian Girls, in What is known as the Realms of the Unreal, of the Glandeco-Angelinian War Storm, Caused by the Child Slave Rebellion'.
People still question whether he was mad or just lonely.
There's a documentary on Darger by Jessica Yu which is really worth watching,it's brilliantly narrated and describes every aspect of Darger's work and life through his art, his room he left behind and the neighbours who looked after him in his last years:
'Death of Pierrot' from Beardsley's 'The Yellow Book'
'I set out to draw like (Aubrey Beardsley). When you're a teenager you swallow your influences whole and try and become them.' Niffenegger
Audrey Beardsley was my sixth form crush, along with Man Ray. His work is highly provocative and delicate with ornate details, so linear and perfect.
He died young, I think of TB in his late 20's but the amount of work he did before then is just gorgeous. My Beardsley book is battered and I tried to become him for months before realising it wasn't going to happen! Sounds like Niffenegger had the same battle.
She showed us a drawing she'd don titled 'Book Plate For Aubrey Beardsley' and described how she'd worked all summer with a quill and ink to try replicate his style. She had been ill with a bad bad earache for months and her Mum got her a book on Beardsley from the library, his erotic detail unknown to her- Niffenegger was only 13/14! He is pretty racy.
'Moths of the New World', Painting using title of one of her short stories, Niffenegger
Lastly, quote and link to an interview with Audrey Niffenegger in The Independant, September 2011:
'...She hit the big time with The Time Traveler’s Wife in 2003, she says, “I was teaching when the novel came out and everybody said ‘My goodness, a brand new writer!’ which was kind of hilarious, really. Now people say to me all the time ‘What is this funny little art habit that you have?'
I leave you with my favourite quote I wrote down that day:
'The future looks after itself.'