This set shows the very first image in the sequence. At this stage the prisoner is cooped up in a tiny cell... With this image I wanted to establish some of the conventions I would be playing with throughout the commission. Light was going to be important, I hoped. Here I wanted the light through the window to be very bright and clear in the composition. It represents the outdoors, which will ultimately be not a place of freedom but of torture. I tried to keep the light on the deer-masked character clear too. Throughout the commission I wanted physical light to be associated with moral darkness. The Thing, the organisation holding him prisoner, want to revert humankind to their primitive, pre-cultural state. I tried to reflect that through the juxtaposition of those opposites, as well as reversing the reading order for the whole sequence (it reads from bottom to top, sometimes right to left, sometimes left to right!). I took my inspiration for the costumes (and for the various forms of torture) from British folk customs and this too was intended to suggest a society unraveling itself.
When it came to rendering the image I started with the protagonist because I thought he would be the trickiest to draw. As I posted earlier I did end up drawing him LOTS before I was happy. It was the first picture I attempted so I wanted to set the standard as high as I could manage ^-^!
I drew the foreground characters in pencil (a water soluble one on damp paper so I could get a really dark mark) then added the Punch and Judy guards in watercolour only. The chap in the deer mask is inspired by the Abbots Bromley Horn Dancers... and by Herne the Hunter in Robin of Sherwood ^-^
Now, I quite wanted to stop there because a little alarm was going in my head, as it often does, saying any more and you'll mess this up ... and I still think that if this piece was going to stand alone it would have looked better had I left it at that point. I needed it to be part of the sequence though and it was supposed to be a very cramped and confined image. At this point it just didn't really feel cramped enough...
...so I took the task very literally and stuck a box around it! I was sorry to lose the more comfortable drawing above but if you see it with the others I hope you agree that the final image does the job it was meant to a bit better.