Silkworm – Heidi Taillefer

I have been crazy busy the last few days.  I have started my Greek mythology course and been surrounding myself in the Homeric world of “The Iliad”, thankfully I downloaded the audio book, so that I could be wallpapering while immersing myself in the Trojan war.  I have also been out and about meeting lots of lovely people who are amazingly creative and I am hoping to have some posts up about some of their fantastic works soon.

When I first saw this piece by Taillefer, I didn’t immediately think of a silkworm – maybe due to my current influences, I was thinking of the Trojan horse, being the sneaky way in which the Greeks snuck in to Troy, but deceiving the Trojans in thinking that Athena had left a gift for their great efforts at staving off the attacks.  What lead me to think this was the mechanical elements of the horse which Taillefer presents to us in this image.  I do appreciate that the Trojan horse was thought to be wooden (I don’t think that they could have knocked together a mechanical horse at the time), but the juxtaposition of the natural and man made just brought this to mind.  The doves scattered around the horse, as if indicating the souls of the dead from the surprise attack.  Then I found the title…Silkworm.  This threw me back to an earlier post about the silkworm goddess which I did…

I think because of the westernisation of this painting, it didn’t jump out at me how this could be linked to this Chinese tale – I wont retell the story, but if you click the link above, you can read all about how the horse is linked to the silkworm.

I decided that I would still add this picture in to my site, because, firstly it is beautifully painted.  The background like a pastel oil slick, giving an other worldly feel, as if the horse is entering existence from a portal (the black rectangle behind it), the doves being a symbol of love and long life (in the story the girl loves her horse, and in becoming a goddess she receives eternal life).  The mechanical element of the horse, to me now say that this is the melding of human and nature, and what appears to be an open wound to the stomach of the horse, the indication of its fate and the girl’s father’s hands.

Secondly, I have several people who I work with read my page, and when one saw the post about “The invisible enemy should not exist” he had commented that he had been up to London that weekend, and had only seen one side of that sculpture, and hadn’t realised that on the other side of the tablet was the image of a lamassu.  This then enticed him to challenge me to find art, that is potentially misunderstood because people see it in different ways.  For me, this is one of those paintings.  Usually I can look at a piece of art and generally feel that I have got the idea of it before I start to research, but of this occasion I feel I put my own influences in to what I was seeing, and without knowing the title merrily felt that this had a Greek story behind it.

This is where I point out that art is always subjective, and it is really down to every individual to interpret art differently.  While I am sure that the artist would really love you to understand their motivation behind a piece that they have created, art gives you the avenues to fully lay your own thoughts over what is there to be seen.

Doesn’t it matter that my first impression of this painting was incorrect – no not really.  I am still appreciating the work that Taillefer has created, with its amazing detail and stunning technique, I don’t think that she would particularly care if I didn’t understand the link between the horse and the title silkworm, as that is quite an unknown tale in my culture.

Taillefer created this painting in 2014, and she said that she uses myth and cultural stories to inspire her art works.  On her website, her work has been described as “work is an original creative fusion of classical figurative painting, surrealism, contemporary realism, and mythology combined with popular figurative traditions ranging from Victorian romanticism to science fiction”.

I would encourage you all to take a look at her other pieces as they are beautifully designed and something very special.  You can find her website here.

What do you think of Silkworm?  Why not tell me in the comments?  Like this post?  Why not share it?


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