: www.dace.co.uk :
I got a Joanna Thomas sculpture!


alicemisfortuneThe sculptor Joanna Thomas emailed me from the United States of America to ask about my painting of Alice in the forest where things have no names. Was Alice for sale?

I had a look at Joanna Thomas's web site and found some beautiful sculpted dolls of fairies and fairy-tale characters including one of Alice herself.

This seemed a good opportunity for a swap. No money to the banks, no money to the tax man, just a bit of postage. Joanna agreed and asked me what figure I should like her to make for me.

Misfortune is a character from the Italian folk tale of the same name, which you will find in a collection called Italian Folk Tales by Italo Calvino. She is called Misfortune because of all the bad fortune she patiently bears. Eventually through a combination of persistence, lack of self-pity, hard work and the help of a mysterious laundress called Signora Francisca she wins the hand of the prince and all ends happily.

I have known feminists to object to the story on the ground that what first draws the attention of the prince to Misfortune's existence is that she irons his shirts with exceptional beauty. This is a trivial objection which misses the point.

misfortune Most of the characters in the story (with the exception of Signora Francisca) represent parts of our own psyche, as in all fairy tales. Therefore a heroine can represent the inner self of a male hearer of the tale just as readily as that of a female. The ironing of the shirts simply stands for humble work. (I do iron my own shirts.) If what it takes to marry one's higher self, in other words to become a complete human being, is the ironing of a few shirts, count me in.

It so happens that the problem of the real liberation of women is pretty much the same as the problem of the real liberation of men, that is to say, the liberation of the psyche from all the false nonsense that passes through our heads all day. Fairy tales offer some deep psychological hints about how to achieve realisation as a complete human being, but you will probably search fairy tales in vain for hints on advancement on the purely material plane.

Anyway, in Joanna Thomas's realisation of Misfortune you can just about see the pair of scissors which a wicked spirit used to cut up the three women's weaving, the special ring-shaped loaf that Misfortune was to give to the Fate of Signora Francisca, and the little box with the tiny piece of braid which Misfortune's own Fate gave to her. This little piece of braid turned out to be the key to the transformation of Misfortune's misfortunes.

winged fateIn a painting of Misfortune which remains unfinished I showed the Fate of Signora Francisca as a naked winged female.

evil fateIn a story full of fate (the three weaving women are probably three Fates also) it is shown how Misfortune tames her own Fate by a combination of kindness and force. My unfinished painting of Misfortune also shows Misfortune's own evil fate sitting by an oven, before Misfortune cleans her up, does her hair and forces her to wear a new dress. Sorting out your own evil Fate takes a bit of rough stuff.

You can see how Joanna Thomas has given Misfortune rags that look as though they were once a princess's dress. Misfortune starts as a princess and ends up as a queen, but she has to go through poverty and suffering on the way.



by Joanna Thomas, resin 6½ inches high approx.