2013, acrylic on unstretched canvas, 32 x 33.5” by Jenny Badger Sultan
I had been listening to a CD of Philip Pullman reading his trilogy “His Dark Materials.” There is a vivid description of the Land of the Dead where Lyra goes to find her dear friend. It is a desolate place and each dead soul has a harpy on its shoulder whispering all the negative and awful things that person has ever thought or done in life. It really captured the essence of the vile and degrading inner voices that I often have to contend with, so I thought I’d paint this Harpy to give form to my experience and possibly to de-fuse it.
The harpy is surrounded by poisonous creatures--snakes, scorpions, centipedes, spiders--the sorts of dangerous creatures that in China were often embroidered on children’s clothes to protect them from harm.
I have met at least one more modern version of the harpy in dream: a Pigeon with a Head like Queen Victoria's kept fastening onto my clothes with its beak...