Word and Image – A Short Story About Life and Art


Years ago, before I went to University and began studying the relationship between literature and art, I started writing little stories inspired by some of the paintings I came across in galleries, postcards and reproductions my parents had on the walls at home. I made up stories about Picasso’s Blue Nude and Hopper’s Nighthawks. I wrote a few of them and then forgot all about it.

Last winter when I was trying to find a way to write more on a daily basis, I decided to seek inspiration in paintings and photographs again. Working from other people’s artworks has let my mind wander, given me more inspiration and made me feel connected to other artists. It has ignited my imagination and helped me come up with stories I probably wouldn’t have written before. If I feel like writing one day but I don’t know what I want to write about, I will just open my photobook on Eugene Atget and look over his black and white photographs of Paris and imagine what someone would be doing in those streets or I will look into the eyes of the young girl in a painting in my Danish artbook and ask: Why do you look so sad?

In July when I went to the V&A museum I bought a few postcards, one of them of a marble statue I have passed many times on my way to the Photographer’s Gallery. For some reason, it was not the real thing but seeing the postcard lying on my floor one evening that suddenly gave me an idea:

What would a statue get up to at night in a museum like the V&A?

At first I just saw it as a writing exercise, plotting down ideas and notes on one piece of paper and writing down a little story on another. But the more I wrote, the more questions came into my mind. What if a muse does not want to inspire? What if, instead of life inspiring art, art inspires something to live? Those questions ended up making it so much more than an exercise and as time went on it became a complete short story with a beginning, a middle and an end.

So if you have wondered why there haven’t been a new blog post in a while, that’s the reason. I have been trying to cram in writing, rereading and editing in any spare time I’ve had, in the two hours I’ve had before work, in my weekends and in my recent holiday at home in Denmark.

And in the end, what came out of that cheap postcard reproduction I bought on a museum visit was the story of The Monument and yet another way the V&A has found to inspire me. This is how the story begins:

She gets so stiff in the neck when she has to sit leaned over her scroll all day. Every day it is the same. The long gallery is filled with people, they look at her all day, photograph her, prop little fold-out chairs up in front of her and sit there for hours to draw her, expecting her to sit still in the same position, so she can serve as their muse.

They come here with all their guidebooks, their diversions and their dreams while they wait for the moment when they will experience the epiphany of the Arts. They do not know that she is the one who is waiting…

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