The Birth of Venus
These three pieces are part of a series of six collectively titled "The Birth of Venus". These are among a number of works taking old illustrated Victorian photograph album pages as their starting point. Such album illustrations often follow themes that have little apparent connection with the album's intended role as a repository of family portraits, but often reveal contemporary attitudes to the home country's relationship to the wider world. In this case the album pages reference port cities around the world. As a further layer of semiotic complexity, the illustrations make use of images from past centuries, as though making an association with the origins of British mercantile dominance. To these album pages I have added images of Victorian women, painted in the style of photographs, stereotypically evocative of each foreign port. The maritime theme of the album, coupled with 19th century gender politics, suggested Botticelli's painting with the overtly symbolic shell, and this has been adopted as a mute three dimensional interlocutor.