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Sylvia Plath was an extraordinary poet who also had some incredibly incisive things to say about American society, as is made wholly evident from her novelistic masterpiece, The Bell Jar. She is also perhaps one of the most misunderstood famous figures of the last few decades. Too often, she has been simplistically dismissed as a victim of the pressures of the society she lived in, the stifling conformity of the 1950s.
Visit the Mayor Gallery and uncover a Plath different from the myth that is constantly being perpetuated. 44 of Plath’s surprisingly beautiful never-before-seen drawings are on display at this intriguing exhibition, which spans pieces drawn from 1955-62. Sidestep the myth, the caricature of ‘Plath as miserablist’ that has become more and more prominent since her premature death. Indeed, these pen and paper drawings showcase Plath as a deft, impressive artist. More than this, they even bring out a playful, witty side to her character (see Curious French Cat, below) that too often goes overlooked when she is discussed in the modern era.
Due no doubt to her tempestuous marriage to Ted Hughes and her tragic suicide, as well as the confessional nature of her poetry, Plath’s great humour and wit often sadly goes overlooked. This is a great shame: both in her writings and, as this exhibition clearly demonstrates, in her art, she could be very droll and entertaining. I would wholly recommend this exhibition to anyone in any way fascinated by the work – and the legend – of Sylvia Plath.
This exhibition is running at the Mayor Gallery until 17th December 2011.
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