I don’t believe in coincidence. Rarely do I call myself a determinist, but I must admit that the more I think about it, the more I feel that the things we do, the people we meet and the things that happen to us – happen on purpose. Of course, we are flooded with pieces of information, encounters and events every day and we need to ‘sieve’ what’s relevant to us and what’s not. We need to prioritize, make exceptions, sometimes make excuses – just to carry on. We need to choose which signs to read and which to follow. I believe that seizing the opportunities that life lays in front of us is the essence of life itself.
Some time ago I came across an article about a project titled “Fictitious Feasts” by Charles Roux. When I saw it – I fell for it completely. It was the moment when I realised that there is somebody with a very similar sensitivity regarding works of art; somebody who puts his heart and passion into creating something new and valuable.
“Fictitious Feasts” is based upon food scenes in fiction texts. Charles weaves the link between literature, food and photography, recreating the scenes from famous novels.
I’ve started corresponding with Charles and decided that we could make a joint post about Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre (1847) – one of the scenes that Charles also set.
I’ve chosen a different fragment from the novel and decided to stylize it for you as well. Before that, however, read what Charles and I have to say about our story with Jane Eyre.
What was your first encounter with the novel like? When?
Charles: I first read this novel when I was 17, just because I wanted to read English classics. I had read Wuthering Heights first.
Barbara: I think I was 17 myself. I got this novel as a thank you gift from my English teacher. I’ve always been an arty person, and she asked me to paint her family tree for her. She wanted to give it to her grandparents as a present.
Which passage inspired you the most?
Charles: I was more inspired by passages in which Jane proved to be witty and somewhat insolent. I liked the discrepancy and the awkward discretion of the character. At re-reading Jane Eyre for the project Fictitious Feasts, my feelings tended to lean towards the atmospheres rather than the narration. I was thrilled by the occurences of fire, for instance, acting as a good symbol for emotional states, among others.
Barbara: As you may see below – the red room. But I love all the fragments when Jane shows her unbridled nature.
How did you design the scene?
Charles: I designed the scene twice. The first pictures that I took were set in a Parisian apartment, with a fireplace lit and a comfortable armchair. I liked the look of the seed cake (which was in the form of a big muffin) but hated the pictures when reviewing them : they were not right, too bourgeois, and somewhat too French. I went to an old stone house where friends lived, in Auvergne (center of France, moutains), where they had a big solemn fireplace and rustic plain wood furniture. I redid a cake, with a lot more seeds, but in another form. I collected flowers in their garden, which are hellebores, winter flowers. I had brought some of my stuff (pot, teapot, plate, fork…) collected here and there, in second-hand stores, family…
Barbara: I always look for a detail (like an armchair in red velvet). Then I browse the photos on my favourite platforms and find a model interior. Then it just all comes to me…more things and images. To be honest, it comes to me quite easily.
Which object in the photo do you like the most?
Charles: I particularly like the teapot and the fire reflections on them. As I wanted the scene to look natural, it is completly lit by fire. Not just the fireplace, it would be too dim, but the whole scene was surrounded by candles around me and my camera and computer. I wanted to see reflections in the metal parts, to add some texture, ambiance and reality.
Barbara: In your photo, the first thing that caught my eye was the blue and white mug. I like its shape. But the metal teapot and vase are also very beautiful.
If you were to choose one famous contemporary person to live in this space, who would it be and why?
Charles: I think one living person who could be happy to be there would be the Belgian writer Amélie Nothomb. She is an avid reader, food lover. She probably would feel comfortable there.
Barbara: I think you’re right. I would see a man in this setting. I believe Sir David Attenborough would enjoy his tea there.
And now a fragment from Chapter 2 of Jane Eyre:
“The red-room was a square chamber, very seldom slept in, I might say never, indeed, unless when a chance influx of visitors at Gateshead Hall rendered it necessary to turn to account all the accommodation it contained: yet it was one of the largest and stateliest chambers in the mansion. A bed supported on massive pillars of mahogany, hung with curtains of deep red damask, stood out like a tabernacle in the centre; the two large windows, with their blinds always drawn down, were half shrouded in festoons and falls of similar drapery; the carpet was red; the table at the foot of the bed was covered with a crimson cloth; the walls were a soft fawn colour with a blush of pink in it; the wardrobe, the toilet-table, the chairs were of darkly polished old mahogany. Out of these deep surrounding shades rose high, and glared white, the piled-up mattresses and pillows of the bed, spread with a snowy Marseilles counterpane. Scarcely less prominent was an ample cushioned easy-chair near the head of the bed, also white, with a footstool before it; and looking, as I thought, like a pale throne.” (source)
And this is what I’ve found for you:
How do you like our revisitngs of Jane Eyre? Drop me a note in a comment box below or in my social media.
Have a wonderful week.