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Picturing a World

Katharine Cameron

I'm reading The Fairest of Them All by Maria Tater (2020), and naturally the first thing I did was look at all the pictures. The blue-and-white vase in this one caught my eye because I have a friend who is an expert on blue-and-white china. It amuses us both to come across it in odd contexts—in this case, a picture of Snow White's stepmother by Katharine Cameron from Louey Chisholm's In Fairyland (1904). That date for a children's book puts it squarely in my character Mattie's world, and Cameron just might be someone for Amy Richardson to know if I decide to follow Amy's story.

At the end of Where the Light Falls, Amy is weighing a move to Glasgow, which a friend has told her is congenial to female artists. I based that claim on reality. In 1882, female art students at the Glasgow School of Art organized, and women artists became a force in the cultural life of the city. Katharine Cameron was one of them. After her studies in Glasgow, she attended classes at the Académie Colarossi in Paris. In 1928, she married an industrialist and art collector, Arthur Kay, but continued to work under her own name professionally. All sorts of things from blue-and-white china, to art studies, to illustration, to publishing, to artists' marriages seem to dovetail her real life with my imaginary characters. Worth exploring, no?
For images of pages from a 1906 book illustrated by Cameron, click here.

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