Katherine Keenum


A blog about how paintings, photographs, and prints have helped me visualize my fiction—both Where the Light Falls and works-in-progress—with a hope that they will stimulate other writers and readers, too.

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An American woman art student meets a Civil War veteran in Belle Époque Paris.

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Surrealism—Leonora Carrington

February 1, 2017

Tags: women artists


Things come together sometimes to open new vistas and set off resonances.

A few weeks ago, a review led me to buy Too Brave to Dream, a collection of previously unpublished poems that Welsh priest and poet R. S. Thomas wrote in the margins of his copy of Surrealism by Herbert Read.

Soon after, in a January 11th article at the Guardian website, Top Ten Books about Wild Women. I read about artist Leonora Carrington, who was introduced to Surrealism by Read’s book. Surrealism has not been one of my enthusiasms, but I like Thomas’s poetry in general and found myself looking at the paintings that drew his attention. Then with Carrington, wow! somehow her female slant altered everything. I looked at this garden picture and said to myself, Yes! I get it! Formality closing one in and yet greenness desirable and all the oddities possible in life.

I instantly connected Carrington’s to the sort of 17th and 18th C bird’s-eye estate pictures I study for garden history—and to architect Charles Jencks’s very contemporary Garden of Cosmic Speculation.

In the surreal political catastrophe through which we are living, I think we must all make as many life-giving connections as we can, remember to take some views on the slant, and take heed of the subconscious.