Franklin first made contact with our group earlier this year when he came to one of our events and told me about his fervent interest in the Brontës, dating back to his childhood. His fascination with the whole Brontë family has led him to scour second-hand bookshops in Brussels for books about them. He has also been working for years on a series of drawings inspired by their lives and works. His drawings are fascinating for their symbolism and vision of the Brontës' imaginative, spiritual world. Like the Brontës, he works on a small scale (though not quite as small as that of their minuscule manuscripts!), with intricate detail painstakingly and patiently built up, one small drawing often taking months to complete.
For years Franklin's dream has been to exhibit his pictures in Haworth to be seen by as many Brontë enthusiasts as possible in the place that inspired them. As a result of his contact with our group, he travelled to Haworth (his first trip to the UK) to show his work to the staff at the Brontë Parsonage Museum. His mission was successful and they have agreed that he is to have an exhibition there in 2011.
Franklin writes: For many years now and ever since I can remember I have been interested in the Brontës, individually and as a family, their spiritual world and their art work which is a fascinating one and unique in the history of art of our western world.
Throughout the years in my work as an artist I have been developing a project with a series of drawings and collages intuitively inspired by poems, letters, books, lives of the Brontës and now I am pleased to say that an exhibition of the collection will take place at the Parsonage Museum in Haworth in the year 2011.
I am grateful to Helen MacEwan of the Brussels Brontë Group for her help in liaising and to Jenna Holmes of the Brontë Parsonage Museum for her warm welcome in the Parsonage and interest in a future collaboration for this exhibition.
The drawings to be presented at the exhibition were patiently and thoroughly worked in detail for quite an amount of time. Thornfield Hall (size 42x30 cm) took 8 months to complete. The Kingdom of Gondal (25x19 cm) took 6 months, and there are more to follow and for the moment I am working on a homage to Branwell Brontë.
In the Brontës' works, the atmosphere of torment (in my interpretation), solitude and agitation and maybe a feeling of 'moor and mind confounded' flames with intensity to an almost divine state of mind while, in my opinion, struggling hard and with great effort to stay human.
This and the atmosphere of light, hard to capture in its essence, I tried very hard to bring out in these pictures. In all my art work, solitude and strong concentration on detail are vital to accomplish what the work demands.
I hope that some of you will be able to see the exhibition in Haworth in 2011. In the meantime, all Brussels Brontë Group / Brontë Society members are very welcome to come and see the pictures in my studio in Brussels.