There's such a storybook quality to Darlene Cole's work. An Aesopian romance that makes me remember not so much my childhood, but what it was like to be childlike. To see such wonder in the world around me, such adventure and danger too. A world where even menace carries alluring notions; the wild things that might take you into their lair and let you sleep in their fur, the flower gardens you might discover behind hidden walls, the sailboats that pull you out far to sea.
I think often of William Trevor's Story of Lucy Gault. She's a character I love fiercely and her story too is of that storybook kind. And I see something of Lucy in Darlene's work too, even Lucy as the older woman at the end. I love too (and have often linked to) this Ted Hughes letter to his son. And I guess I love all these things because this is something I really believe about people:
"...everybody develops a whole armour of secondary self, the artificially constructed being that deals with the outer world, and the crush of circumstances. And when we meet people this is what we usually meet. And if this is the only part of them we meet we’re likely to get a rough time, and to end up making ‘no contact’. But when you develop a strong divining sense for the child behind that armour, and you make your dealings and negotiations only with that child, you find that everybody becomes, in a way, like your own child. It’s an intangible thing. But they too sense when that is what you are appealing to, and they respond with an impulse of real life, you get a little flash of the essential person, which is the child."
All images by Darlene Cole, available from Bau-Xi.