by Claudia Keurdjekian
For my Creative Product, I didn’t focus on a specific scene from the novel. I actually worked on a few of the themes and important elements that stood out the most to me. What inspired me to create this venetian mask was actually a mask that I saw at the dollar shop just a few days before Halloween. Since I was looking for an idea for the Creative Assignment, I told myself that maybe I could make one myself, but related to the novel. I thought it was an original idea, and so I decided to stick with it.
I think that my mask reflects the thematic concerns of the novel like the darkness of London since the colours I have chosen are mostly grey or dark grey. In fact, I tried to put as much as grey as possible since it is the most dominant colour in the novel. Anna constantly reminds us how she hates London and describes it as being very grey and sad, “There was always a little grey street leading to the stage-door of the theatre and another little grey street […] and a grey stone promenade running hard, naked and straight by the side of the grey-brown or grey-green sea […]” (Rhys, 8). Although the book is based on darkness and tragedy, it also gives the readers some sign of hope. At the very end of the novel, Anna sees “[…] [a] ray of light came in again under the door like the last thrust of remembering before everything is blotted out” (159). To represent that light, in other words that hope, I decided to add some rhinestones, which also added some contrast with the dark colours of the mask and the frame. In addition, at several occasions throughout the novel, Anna looks at herself in a looking-glass. For that reason, I incorporated some mirrors in project. The mirrors were in form of circles because I thought that they would nicely symbolize the circle of life in which Anna is. After going through everything, Anna thinks about “starting all over again”, and the ending ties back to the beginning, to square one of where her story begins (159).
Anna’s theatrical side is also highlighted in my creative product. In the beginning of the story, we are told that she works as a chorus girl, which means that she’s involved in theatre. “There was a little grey street leading to the stage-door of the theatre […]” (8). The mask automatically relates to the theatre since it’s a direct symbol of theatre. Moreover, her melancholy and sadness are also presented through the mask’s face. The mask’s face shows no emotions, and by looking at it seems like it is actually rather sad face. I think it depicts Anna’s character pretty well, since most of the time she’s a pessimistic character that rarely smiles. The mask is feminine, but still very dark just like Anna. In addition, I would say that frame has also a symbolic meaning of Anna’s imprisonment in a world in which she cannot escape. The mask is glued to the frame, and if you think about it, it kind of looks like the mask is trying to get out of the frame. Overall, my creative product borrows the dark tone of the novel because of the dark colours (silver, grey, dark grey) I used, and the overall face of the mask, which shows the sadness expressed by Anna.
During the creation of my venetian mask, I did face some challenges in translating the thematic concerns of the novel to this art medium. I had difficulty trying to decide how to shape (sculpt) the mask; I wanted to make it as elegant and theatrically-themed as possible. I also had a hard time picking the right colours in order to make the piece of art reflect the darkness of London and the dark tone of the novel itself. I didn’t know how much detail I should add. In the end, I think I put the right amount of details on my project. I believe that the mask I created succeeded in capturing the spirit of the novel because it’s a good blend of the novel’s themes and Anna’s character.
Lastly, I was surprised that the word “mask” was referred to in the book a few times, and I didn’t really notice that when I read the book. Near the end of the novel, when Anna seems like she’s in a dreamy state of mind after she goes through with the abortion, she says, “A pretty useful mask that white one watch it […] I don’t see why they should stop the Masquerade they’ve always had their three days of Masquerade […]” (156). This is also another way my mask relates directly to the text of the novel, which I didn’t realize until I was looking for some citations to add to my explanatory text. When I was done with my creative product, I realized how much I missed working on art projects since it’s been a long time (since high school actually) that I haven’t shown my artistic side.