Company of Images
"Welcome to the world of art.
"Meet the painters, their dealers and lovers, demons and muses.
"Margeurite weaves a web of mysteries and truths; Buff creates the angel of his destruction; Carmen deadlocks with a black canvas; Alona weighs books against babies; Miriam makes art from the stuff of her life; Callender plans the ultimate exhibition.
"In this thoroughly enjoyable, funny, sad and wise novel, prize-winning author Janine Burke paints a group portrait that is both rich and authentic."
"Hers is a poet's sensibility, an original and passionate one." - Beverley Farmer, Australian Book Review
It was William Blake's fault. Since she'd pinned up The Whirlwind of Lovers she'd spent more time gazing at the stream of wind-borne bodies than she had preparing her afternoon class. That was the problem with images. Inner doors flew open, the mind greeting strange visions like long-lost friends, and before she knew it she'd entered the world of the picture, whatever universe appeared. She'd found the reproduction amongst a cluster of dog-eared cards stuffed in her desk's top drawer. Sometimes she shuffled them to find the weird and accidental combinations made by a fat, malicious Bronzino baby next to the pure blindness of a Cycladic head, a nervy Goya princess against Ingres' snoozing odalisques. Michelangelo's Moses, storming in marble. Anubis, god of the dead, cackling from the Louvre. This collection, made of journeys and tastes past, was her diary, a picture-memory, to be played with, added to, while some were selected for the place of honour above her desk. Blake went up this morning. He had been ill when he did the drawing: she saw him bent over the task, an old poet, all staring eyes and sweating brow. It was easy for her, one and a half centuries later, to be swept away by the spectacle. She enjoyed extremes, though not so much in her own life. Better up on the wall, encased by time. The drawing was about passion gone well and truly wrong. She'd read Dante, she knew the story. Yet the impression was not one of doom, even if the lovers were buffeted by hell's merciless blasts, but rather something pleasing to the eye and to the heart as if, underneath it all, Blake admitted it was better to burn.
From the Greenhouse paperback edition, 1989.
About the Author
Janine Burke was born in Melbourne in 1952. While completing a fine arts degree at the University of Melbourne she began writing art criticism for journals and newspapers, and organising exhibitions of art. Between 1977 and 1982 she taught art history at the Victorian College of the Arts and took out an MA from La Trobe University. Since then she has written fiction full-time. Her novel Second Sight won the 1987 Victorian Premier's Award for fiction.
This novel was shortlisted for the Miles Franklin Award in 1990.
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Last modified: December 10, 2004.