In search of lost time - Proust's influence

Each of my works makes reference to a memory of an experience of a moment in time that has captivated me - beliefs, involuntary memories, fantasies and imaginations. Recurrent themes such as myths & legends, the natural & spirit worlds and the passage of time are distilled within each ethereal tableau.

My principle inspiration is the thinking of Marcel Proust, the acclaimed novelist who wrote À la Recherche du Temps Perdu’ (In Search of Lost Time), which examines the concept of a memory triggered by an object.

 Marcel Proust

Marcel Proust

Consisting of seven volumes and 3,200 pages, it was begun in 1909 with the final three volumes being published after his death in 1922. Graham Greene called Proust "the greatest novelist of the 20th century" and W. Somerset Maugham described the novel as "the greatest fiction to date".

It is intrinsically linked to art; in it he names more than 100 artists including Bellini, Monet, Whistler and Vermeer and he directly references their paintings as themes in his stories. His work has of course influenced many writers and artists since, myself included.

One of the most famous sections of Proust's novel is his description of when he tastes a madeleine dipped in tea; it is this that inspired my assemblage piece 'The Episode of the Madeleine'. As if it is moulded in the fluted valve of a scallop shell, the humble madeleine invokes a memory in my childhood - as it did for Proust.

The box I have created contains an antique French madeleine baking tray, magnifying glass and watch mechanism, vintage print block pieces. It measures 970mm high, 495mm wide and 200mm deep. It has a bespoke glass-fronted wooden box, with antiqued mirror glass inside (see the gallery below).