Lauren Of ArabiaSaturday, September 11, 2010
I turned my coal-house into my dark room, and a glaze fowl-house I had given to my children became my glass house! The hens were liberated, I hope and believe not eaten. The profit of my boys upon new laid eggs was stopped, and all hands and hearts sympathized in my new labour, since the society of hens and chickens was soon changed for that of poets, prophets, painters and lovely maidens, who all in turn have immortalized the humble little farm erection…
I longed to arrest all beauty that came before me, and at length the longing has been satisfied. Its difficulty enhanced the value of the pursuit. I began with no knowledge of the art. I did not know where to place my dark box, how to focus my sitter, and my first picture I effaced to my consternation by rubbing my hand over the filmy side of the glass. It was a portrait of a farmer in Freshwater, who, to my fancy, resembled Bolingbroke…
Having succeeded with one farmer, I next tried two children; my son, Harding, being on his Oxford vacation, helped me in the difficulty of focusing. I was half-way through a beautiful picture when a splutter of laughter from one of the children lost me that picture, and less ambitious now, I took one child alone, appealing to her feelings and telling her of the waste of poor Mrs. Cameron’s chemicals and strength if she moved. The appeal had its effect, and I now produced a picture which I called
‘My First Success’
I was in a transport of delight. I ran all over the house to search for gifts for the child. I felt as if she entirely had made the picture. I printed, toned, fixed and framed it, and presented it to her father that same day: size 11 by 9 inches.
Julia Margaret Cameron
Annals of My Glass House, 1874
The above wonderful observations by Julia Margaret Cameron from her autobiography/diary Annals of My Glass House are here for two reasons. One of them is that Cameron was able to inject into her diary that very enthusiasm and delight when I watched Lauren today dress up. She looked so fantastic that I turned on my bedroom lamp and placed her on my pillow. The soft lighting seemed to be accurately captured by my iPhone and the result you see here has little manipulation except for the vignetting.
The second reason for placing Cameron’s writings here is to help bury/hide both my wife’s and daughter’s statement (made independently at different times) upon seeing the picture today. “You cannot put this picture, it is 9/11.”
It is obvious that my imagination would see Lauren as a playful impersonation of T.E. Lawrence; there is a similarity in names. Nobody would deny that T.E. Lawrence was an important factor in pushing forward the cause of the people who lived in Arabia and who were rebelling against the Ottoman Turks.
Lauren is wearing a little rosary with a broken cross. As a Catholic that I was raised to be, I see no insult to my faith in having an innocent girl use it (so innocently) as a trinket to help her escape into her world of fantasy.
It may be that just a few, (ever so few) are holding us hostage. That should not be.