BRIDGET WHELAN writer

Muse, News and Views

Back to normal – sort of

I’ve been rather quiet over the last few weeks. A lot of things had to take priority over this blog and one of them was a five-day summer school at City Lit in central London. It was a great class and I thoroughly enjoyed it as well as being thoroughly exhausted by it. (The 120 mile commute probably had something to do with the latter.) There was nine in the class which, to be honest, is quite small by City Lit standards, but is a perfect size for creative writing. There was a real opportunity to get to know each other and become familiar with what everyone wanted from their writing. It also happened to be a well-matched class in terms of personality, full of good humour (well, they laughed at most of my jokes which is the gold standard as far as I’m concerned) and with no alpha egos competing for attention… We covered a lot of ground in 25 hours we had together: from creating characters that could walk off the page to composing sonnets. I thought I would share one of the short exercises I used.

RambrandtI fell in love with this painting by Rembrandt when I first saw it in Amsterdam in the early 1980s. It is called the Jewish Bride – a name it acquired some 200 years after it was painted – and no one seems quite sure what it’s about. It could be husband-and-wife on their wedding day; it could be a father presenting his daughter with a pearl necklace on the eve of her marriage, although, as someone commented in class, if that were the case, isn’t his hand in the wrong place? It also raises questions about why Dad would  go to the expense of commissioning a portrait marking the end of one stage in his daughter’s life  rather than celebrating the beginning of another– if nothing else, it suggests regret at his child growing up. However, I gather many art historians believe the couple are dressed as Isaac and his wife Rebecca from the Old Testament – they are certainly not wearing anything a self-respecting couple in the 1660s would have worn. So, maybe they are just models hired for the occasion, but even if that’s the case I think Rembrandt chose the sitters with great care because there is true emotion here and that’s what my students had to write about.
Forget about the history, about what we know or don’t know, just read the story written in their expressions…

 

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4 comments on “Back to normal – sort of

  1. A.K.Andrew @artyyah
    August 9, 2014

    Glad you had a good class Bridget, though it does sound exhausting. That London commute could get old real fast. Good exercise, though it felt slightly cut off. I assume you meant us to write a story based on the painting. (you say read the story…)

  2. bridget whelan
    August 9, 2014

    Exhaustion is my excuse! Yes, read the story in their eyes…and tell it

  3. Clair Chen
    August 11, 2014

    Hi, Bridget! What a nice thing to write about our class. I think we all really enjoyed it. I certainly found it inspiring and encouraging. Thank you so much!

    • bridget whelan
      August 11, 2014

      Glad to see you here Clair – I really enjoyed our week together.

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This entry was posted on August 9, 2014 by in Muse and tagged , , , , .
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