Sunday, June 23, 2013

Hare made antlers

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!


Donna Hosie said...

This is one of your best posts ever. Really inspirational and shows what an artist you are. Brilliant stuff.

Rachel Fenton said...

Thank you, Donna. I don't often do the Blue Peter - this is how I made it - but I'm glad I did with this one(I was thinking it might just show up my pun obsession!).

Anonymous said...

Hi, I justed wanted to let you know that I did try to physically stand on the hills over Amras at a point where Bruegel might have stood -- but the view was completely blocked by trees now, unfortunately. It would have been interesting to see how the small buildings in the distance line up with what is there now. I wrote more about this painting's local story after it was featured in the movie Melancholia.

Greetings from Tirol,

Rachel Fenton said...

Aaaah! How brilliant - and thank you for commenting/telling me that, Marcellina! I love your blog/singing - the song you made from your mother's poem is gorgeous! (I'm quite the silent blog stalker!)

I would love to visit the place, even just to stand among the trees!

Teresa Stenson said...

Love the story, the story behind the story, the hair, the hare behind the hair.

Rachel Fenton said...

:) I'm putting it all behind me, Teresa. Thanks for making me smile!

Lori said...

What an exceptional image, Rachel! The effect is really incredible. Your creativity has no bounds.

Rachel Fenton said...

:) Hair-raising?

The flash Mob brief called for something arty or funny, so I tried to combine both, Lori. Glad you liked it. Thanks.