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Picturing a World


My recent interest in book jackets led me to an excellent group biography, Ravilious & Co: The Pattern of Friendship. Eric Ravilious lived and worked among artists and designers many of whom had studied or taught at the Royal College of Art in the 1920's. Contemporaries of the Bloomsbury set, they were just as bohemian and just as dedicated to their work; but they were not so, well, self-important. One artist who didn't make it into the biography, or at least under the name Claudia Guercio, designed the cover and this illustration for Ariel Poem #20, A Snowdrop by Walter de la Mare.

When I poked around on the 'net, I found that Claudia Guercio had married Barnett Freedman and afterward worked as Claudia Freedman. "Ooooh," thought I, "so that's who she was." Barnett Freedman figures very much in Ravilious & Co. These are not "my people," but it was great fun to be able to place her.
Artistic groups appeal to me. When I think about what might happen to my heroine Jeanette in Cincinnati after her marriage to Edward at the end of Where the Light Falls, I assume she would make friends with women who worked at the Rookwood Pottery Company and maybe go up to New England to an art colony like the the Old Lyme Colony in Connecticut. And Mattie: The Ariel Poems suggest the kind of publishing project she might become engaged in once she moves on from children's syndicated fiction. Even if my stories never come to fruition, it is a deep pleasure to move in worlds of imagination—and dandy to have a new focus for some directed reading.
What about you? What are you motivated to explore? If you ask me, we all need something to take us out of the world around us and then bring us back to it with renewed perceptions. It might be reading or it might be nature study or it might be pictures like this one. Spring is just now arriving to the bare-branched trees and freshening fields of New England, and Claudia Guercio has given me a new way to look at it.

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