Jane Eyre's Scrapbook

Unveiling the artistic talents of a literary icon

How it Started

The Idea behind Jane Eyre's Scrapbook
Like countless others, I have long been enchanted with the story of Jane Eyre. I had the idea for Jane Eyre’s Scrapbook quite suddenly, one afternoon, over ten years ago.
As an illustrator, I was particularly fascinated by the symbolic paintings that Jane created from her imagination - in particular, the three watercolours that Mr Rochester quizzes her about in the following extract. They are full of symbolism and are often a popular subject for discussion with students of the text. 
Extract from Jane Eyre
I also really like Jane's process of working out her thoughts, and controlling her emotions, through drawing and painting.
Extract from Jane Eyre
On several occasions throughout the story Jane is diligently engrossed in her work, often tucked away in corners. In some of these moments, when she is quiet and occupied, she attracts the attention of others. 
I'm thinking in particular of her cousins. In seeing her at work, they discover something remarkable about her, and it sparks a fresh chapter in their relationships. 
I'd like to visit the scene where Jane is interrupted whilst painting a portrait of Rosamond Oliver. Rosamund is the benefactress of the village school where Jane teaches after she flees Thornfield, and it's obvious to Jane that she and her cousin St. John are attracted to each other. The portrait captivates her cousin, fixing him in the spotlight of Jane's bold and rigorous interrogation. Some minutes later, on covering up the portrait, Jane's real name is revealed to St. John. 
Known to her cousins as Jane Elliot, Jane Eyre had been scribbling her real name on a piece of scrap paper used to protect the portrait whilst she worked on it. 
One little picture, one massive plot point.
Portrait of Rosamund Oliver
When most people think about the story of Jane Eyre, the first thing that springs up is usually The Mad Woman in the Attic, or wandering wretchedly on the moors. My wish, in making this scrapbook, was to bring the artistic talents of this literary icon to centre stage.
I also wanted the opportunity of creating some retrospective works - to have Jane as a mature woman reflecting on, and illustrating, thoughts and feelings which happened when she was much younger. Being just a child, it's likely she'd have felt dissatisfied with any marks she may have made at the time, in order to understand her world better.
Page from a Victorian Scrapbook
Image credit: Look and Learn, History Picture Archive
The image above is a beautiful example of an antique scrapbook page. I have a passion for collage as a creative medium. I began to be captivated by the idea of using scrapbooking as a device to interweave the existing paintings, drawings, memorabilia; as well as the newfound thoughts of a married Jane, into a cohesive work.
Spread about Lowed from Jane Eyre's scrapbook
Given the popularity of scrapbooking as a pastime during the 1800s, it seemed like the perfect means to blend all these elements harmoniously. 
And so the concept for Jane Eyre's Scrapbook was born!

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