Pieter Bruegel's Hunters in the Snow, 1565
I recently took part in Flash Mob, a showcase for flash fiction to celebrate International Flash Fiction Day.
My story was a piece of ekphrasis about Pieter Bruegel's painting, Hunters in the Snow.
I'm interested in meta-fiction, fiction that uses fact and often blurs the boundary between the two. So I chose to photograph myself with antlers made of hair (see profile pic) and write my story from the first person point of view. In the painting, I interpreted the sticks the hunters are carrying - one slung with a hare - as being like antlers in appearance (oh for the love of puns and homonyms). And this is how the story split into two time frames - one bringing the past of the painting to life, the other re-imagining a new scenario for the image in the present, contemporary with myself.
I had wanted to write about this painting for years - seriously - years. I have a file specifically for things related to it. But it wasn't until the Flash Mob that I thought to do something with it.
I spent two days researching the location via websites and with the aid of Google Earth. I found what I believe to be the exact location the scene in the painting was taken from, courtesy of a couple of other bloggers who had done some research of their own, and used Google Earth's "street view" to put myself in the hunters' shoes.
I don't know how other people feel about art, but for me, to virtually stand where Bruegel did gave me a real rush - it set the tone for the content of my story.
For those who read the story and didn't get any of that - doh! Only joshing. But it goes to show, a lot goes on behind the scenes - even for a tiny story.
What I hope readers did get is something as visually rich as the original painting - a thing of beauty, in my opinion.
Congratulations to all those who took part in the mob and to the winners. And thanks to the organisers and judges - it was a great experience - and it got me to write about Bruegel's painting - at last!