MAY 2016

THE JUNGLE HUSBAND

.M CONTEMPORARY, SYDNEY

I received a collection of poems by Stevie Smith for my twenty seventh birthday. Unfamiliar with her work, my friend told me that I would find her writing humorous and imaginative. This was true, and particularly so about ‘The Jungle Husband’. Its imagery resonated with me tremendously. And for years I would favour it as a text for illustration students to interpret as a visual narrative. Now, no longer teaching, returning to the story as I always do, I decided to draw my own version of it. Looking at each line of the poem individually, I created a series of portrait moments for Smith’s troubled character.

. . .

Taylor’s jungle husband is in conversation with himself. He is alone in his wilderness, except for the company of an imaginary friend, and the occasional appearance of the devil. Dressed confidently, he seems familiar and at ease with the nature of things in his private world. He is, in Taylor’s depiction, the jungle’s husband.

 

In his portrait drawings, Taylor explores notions around masculinity, selfhood, and personal mythology. Themes of disillusionment, escapism, solitude, and longing, were important for the artist’s own interpretation of Stevie Smith’s poem. Contradicting the idealised image of a husband, this character represents an antihero for Taylor.

http://mcontemp.com/events/michael-taylor/

http://poemhunter.com/poem/the-jungle-husband/

 
You never want to go in a jungle pool, Michael Taylor 2016, Gouache on paper, 150 x 125 cm
 
But green on top, Michael Taylor 2016, Gouache on paper, 150 x 125 cm
 
Out with the guns in the jungle stew, Michael Taylor 2016, Gouache on paper, 150 x 125 cm
 
Yesterday I hittapotamus, Michael Taylor 2016, Gouache on paper, 150 x 125 cm
 
Only sometimes when a tree has fallen, Michael Taylor 2016, Gouache on paper, 150 x 125 cm
 
The sun comes down plop, it is quite appalling, Michael Taylor 2016, Gouache on paper, 150 x 125 cm
 
Dearest Evelyn, I often think of you, Michael Taylor 2016, Gouache on paper, 150 x 125 cm
 
It’s not a good thing to drink out here, Michael Taylor 2016, Gouache on paper, 150 x 125 cm
 
Into the jungle. It is all gray, Michael Taylor 2016, Gouache on paper, 150 x 125 cm
 
In the hot sun, it would be the act of a fool, Michael Taylor 2016, Gouache on paper, 150 x 125 cm
 
Because it’s always full of anacondas, Evelyn, not looking ill-fed, Michael Taylor 2016,
Gouache on paper, 150 x 125 cm
 
I’ll say. So no more now, from your loving husband, Wilfred, Michael Taylor 2016,
Gouache on paper, 150 x 125 cm
 
I put the measurements down for you but they got lost in the fuss, Michael Taylor 2016,
Gouache on paper, 150 x 125 cm
 
You know, I’ve practically given it up dear, Michael Taylor 2016, Gouache on paper, 150 x 125 cm
 
Tomorrow I am going alone a long way, Michael Taylor 2016, Gouache on paper, 150 x 125 cm

© 2020 MICHAEL TAYLOR