Marilyn Peck

Trilogy - Exhibition and Book Launch

January 19 - February 2 Official opening Saturday January 19 2 - 5 pm refreshments and finger food served 2019

Sir Gawain and the Perilous Graveyard is the final book in Marilyn Peck's Sir Gawain Trilogy. It is based on a chivalric romance written by an anonymous author in 13th century, the manuscript of which is preserved in the Musee Conde, Chantilly, France. As in Peck's previous works the text was personally translated from Middle English diction and subsequently illuminated. Fifty-four sumptuous illustrations aspire to manifest the esoteric dimensions inherent in all Arthurian tales. Multi-layered in process and meaning, the miniature paintings do not simply illustrate certain passages from the story but rather interpret its ethos concerning themes of temptation and moral testing. Peck has also created illuminated initials to start each quatrain in the volume.

A selection of the original miniature artworks is included in the exhibition. The minuscule scale of the paintings encourages a close engagement with the subjects depicted amidst jewel-like drifts of watercolour. Emulating the traditions of mediaeval illuminated manuscripts, areas of gold and palladium leaf accent the enchanting stories and venerable parables contained within. The precious leaf is often inscribed with subtle patterns that add linear intricacies.

Peck tells that when she was researching her first book concerning the Green Knight she'd found two more intriguing Sir Gawain quests and tied the adventures together in a sequence. ‘I wounded him in the first - because of his much touted gallantry, Gawain needed the nick-in-the-neck. Marrying him to the bewitched grotesque Loathly Lady in the second, I taught Gawain lessons about what women want and highlighted the foolishness of being prey to outward appearances. In the third book Sir Gawain ‘lost his name' and sense chivalric worth but regained both through contrition, valour and noble deeds. All three books demonstrate Sir Gawain's unerring loyalty to his king, his lady and his ethics.'

Continuing, Peck discloses: ‘Now at 86 years old, I think the ability to produce paintings in the miniature genre may be finished for me, so I'll play around with bigger works!' She reminds that the miniatures only came into being after relocating to the Gold Coast in 1986. Before that her great love had been to capture the luminosity and atmosphere of the Hawkesbury River and its leisure-craft in watercolour and acrylic. To prevent a tendency towards detailed realism, Peck variously employed brush, palette knife and even her hands. She explored experiments in mixed media that included enamel aerosol spay, acrylic marbling and the outcomes of dropping objects into wet paint and ink. ‘I try only to be influenced by beauty,' muses Peck. ‘I love accidental happenings in the picture plane. These are gifts from God.' Several paintings embracing such techniques will also be exhibited.

Peck's creative output has been prodigious. An exhibiting artist since 1970 she has developed an international reputation as a significant miniaturist, winning awards both overseas and in Australia. Peck's work is represented in the Gold Coast City Gallery and Tasmania's Burnie Regional Art Gallery Collections. From 2011, her poetry has been selected for publication in the highly respected Quadrant literary and cultural journal. Marilyn's contribution in fostering inspiration and creativity in others is equally impressive. She was a founding member of the Australian Society of Miniature Art in NSW, 1986 and Foundation President of that body in Queensland, 1988.


Footnote: The British Museum houses a single manuscript of the original Sir Gawain and the Green Knight romance that was written by an anonymous 14th century poet. The Loathly Lady survives in a poorly copied 16th century manuscript in the Bodleian Library, Oxford University.

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