Sylvia Plath, the tortured poet who committed suicide in 1963, is best known for her semi-autobiographical novel, The Bell Jar, but she was also a passionate artist. A selection of her pen and ink drawings are on exhibit for the first time until Dec 16 at London’s Mayor Gallery, most of them ordinary travel sketches.
The Bell Jar shoes, though, represent the handful of sketches that reference Plath’s darker moments. The gallery refers to this passage from the novel that appears to go with the sketch.
I had removed my patent leather shoes after a while, for they foundered badly in the sand. It pleased me to think they would be perched there on a silver log pointing out to sea, like a sort of soul-compass after I was dead. – The Bell Jar
Most of Plath’s drawings are of everyday scenes, ranging from French street life to the Spanish countryside, to American locations.
For the most part they show a young woman who is serious about her art, but they don’t reveal the dark underbelly of it all that the poems reveal. If anything, most of these works are polite and as well brought up as Plath herself was well brought up Michael Glover, The Independent