Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Gabriel: A Character Inspired by Underground Miners

The Family

As the grand daughter and niece of lifelong underground miners I 

grew up with the feeling that miners were exceptional, even mythic 

human beings.

      I had one uncle – down the pit from 14 to 62 years -  whose
 knowledge of  the very veins of the earth was down to experience, insight and long study. The seams underground were his obsession, even his poetry. 

       I had another uncle – a leader of his men – who when he was aboveground grew prizewinning flowers and had a hand in creating new strains of certain familiar flowers. He also had a very good singing voice  which he liked to share.
Doodling  -Thinking  of Gabriel
Read a chapter about Gabriel's
Perceptions of Light and Colour
 on the Tab above or HERE 


The Artist

It was a nephew of the flower-growing uncle – the late Norman Cornish - who in his youth turned his mind and his hand to drawing and painting, and ended up with a national reputation as a very respected artist.  
        Then I met the late Tom McGuinness – and entirely different artist from Norman, whose luminous paintings created new ways of seeing the world both above and below ground.


The Writers

Inspired by my background  I have written short stories based on my literary and museum own research, as well as  my  family experience of the role of the underground miner.  And  I am a particular admirer of writer Sid Chaplin – one time miner whose novel The Thin Seam is of perfect  evocation of men working underground.

        The thing is, I am  novelist, not a painter. So it was that into my life - into my imagination - strode the lovely Gabriel Marchant who is not any of these me above but who would not have existed without them. To me now he is as real as any of them.

The novel is called Gabriel Marchant; How I became a Painter

 and for a week is on  Amazon Kindle from 99p

Gabriel’s own story is fiction but it  springs out of my personal experience of a particular place at a particular time and my research into the true experience of people whose lives were changed in such a way.

The  Dedication. 

In the book I say: This novel is dedicated to all those whose lives impelled them to dig in the darkness, who still found the grace there to create beauty. In particular I honour the inspiration of the art of Tom McGuinness, Ted Holloway and Norman Cornish, in addition to the literary inspiration of the writer Sid Chaplin. All of them, in their unique fashion, flourished as young people through the magic of the Spennymoor Settlement. 
See the images of their work in Wales and McManners' wonderful Shafts of Light


Truth and Fiction

I hope  in this novel, through my fiction, I have arrives at some truth about the lives and the heritage of all those grandfathers  and uncles,  going back through generations in my family.

       I was thinking about Gabriel Marchant when I came across this quotation from Eudora Welty. It made sudden sense to me. 
She says  "Art, though, is never the voice of a country; it is an even more precious thing, the voice of the individual, doing its best to speak, not comfort of any sort, but truth. And the art that speaks it most unmistakably, most directly, most variously, most fully, is fiction; in particular, the novel.” 

Most Important: The Reader ***** on Amazon

The first reviewer says: 'Gabriel Marchant' is a rites of passage story sympathetically revealing life in the raw. Gabriel matures not only as an artist but discovers at Archie's Settlement 'the complication of women' through Rosel, art teacher and older woman, Marguerite an artist’s model and Greta the gauche, clever schoolgirl who makes a pact with Gabriel to do 'the thing that men and women do.'
     And always in the background is Archie working to release the butterflies in chrysalis state, a gifted group of young people desperate to escape the web of ignorance that could condemn them to life in the dark as black as any mine'

Gabriel is on Countdown offer up to end of the month.

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