In Haunt

By Cabinet Of Curious Creations And Hayley Shaw Spooky settings, enchanting characters, dramatically dark colour schemes; all of these could be considered elements of Gothic-inspired artwork. They certainly feature within the artistry of Manchester-based Hayley Shaw (example pictured left) and her business Cabinet of Curious Creations.

Consider Hayley's portrait prints for example, depicting icons including Edward Scissorhands, Frankenstein’s Monster, The Joker, even vampires and aliens! From detailed hand-drawn illustrations to crafted keepsakes such as frames, trinket boxes and jewellery, the range of her work also stands out.  Ahead of Cabinet of Curious Creations' involvement in an Online Alternative Market event on Saturday 27 June 2020 (presented by Haunt Manchester in collaboration with Haunt Bristol and Bristol Goth & Alternative Market), Dr Sorcha Ní Fhlainn decided to explore three of Hayley’s designs further.

Dr Sorcha Ní Fhlainn (Manchester Centre for Gothic Studies, Manchester Metropolitan University) after all offers a highly insightful eye, especially given her passion for the horror genre and study of its culture, as underlined by her recent authorship of Postmodern Vampires: Film, Fiction, and Popular Culture. Sorcha has also been previously interviewed by Haunt Manchester here and has written previous articles for the culture blog, including reflections on the For The Love of Horror and For The Love of Sci-Fi conventions. Below is her interpretation of Hayley’s work…. 

On Alien:

What is extremely distinctive about this piece of art (pictured below) is the visual contrast between the alien queen in stark Black and White, situated against a field of striking red to emphasise the danger this gorgeous monster represents. The alien’s beautiful and terrifying organic body—itself a mass of hyper-accentuated bony parts informing its grotesque composition, complete with a tail that recalls the human spine—reinforces the power and detail of its exoskeleton through stark monochrome—from rib cage to tail tip— as a mimicry of a disassembled and absorbed human body, giving it a true sense of evolutionary supremacy that is further echoed with the inclusion of the skull in the foreground.

Alien By Hayley Shaw

Its distinctive jaws, so celebrated in the film series, are elegantly emphasised in a half-turned smile, perhaps welcoming us as its expected victim, which subtly reveals the inner toothed tongue that protrudes only on occasion. This lovely inclusion, alongside its signature dripping spittle, embellishes its fanged mouth that secretes another jawed horror within. As someone who collects some art on the Alien queen and her brood, this is a beautiful rendering of the celebrated features of the creature, and through Hayley’s artistry, it emphasises the necessary elements of fluids, consumption, and slicked-skin surface that defines HR Giger’s original monster, and its many evolutions onscreen since. A wonderful piece!

On Dracula’s chief characters:

Mina By Hayley Shaw Mina:

This image of Mina (pictured above) by Hayley reinforces the romantic emphasis of Coppola’s film, which she has clearly intended to foreground through the unrequited passion of the character. Isolated in this frame, she looks off into the distance, suggesting her near mournful loss, and costumed in her ball gown and jewels as worn during her seduction by the mysterious count. This choice of image reinforces the romantic elements that were foregrounded in Coppola’s 1992 film, giving it a strong emphasis that encounters with vampirism inevitably awaken a sense of eroticism and revitalised passion; here, the image captures the loss of that vitality, and foregrounds the memory of that loss as privately haunting her. The sketch clearly recalls those private losses that are merely glimpsed in Coppola’s Dracula —and often omitted from earlier screen versions of the tale—wherein characters mourn the vital moments of reawakening they experience when in the company of the mesmeric count.  Hayley has captured the romance and loss here extremely vividly, with a particular emphasis on the sadness on Mina’s face through her pensive, shadowed features, her deep, pensive stare that suggest the recollection of lost moments and lost love, and framed by her long seductive hair, suggesting the release of passion and transformation from her prim beginnings. A fantastic sketch that captures the essence of Coppola’s Mina while emphasising Winona Ryder’s striking visual beauty and costumed fantasy of vampire romance.

Dracula By Hayley Shaw

Dracula:

Hayley’s sketch of Dracula (pictured above) makes its distinction by focusing on his (at first) near non-descript features and emphasise the costume in which he arrives in London society in Coppola’s 1992 film. Again, this emphasis on costume in the sketch focuses on the wealth and privilege Dracula embodies as a supernatural figure who is perfectly in tune with the fin-de-siècle present and its polite social norms. Notice how Hayley’s images from Dracula echo each other’s eye lines, as though both characters are searching for one another beyond the isolation of their respective portraits. Hayley captures the effeminate suggestions in Dracula’s face, his delicate bone structure and deep-set eyes that mask the monstrous gothic figure within. This costumed masquerade reveals much about this and numerous Draculas on screen – here, in this sketch which is based on a famous still image from the film, Hayley has infused a moment of longed-for admiration and passion for Mina that sustains Dracula’s own resistance of the grave for centuries. His search across time is captured here in the depth of his eyes, the sketch suggests, and finds comfort in the recognition of his long-lost bride in Mina Murray. I commend Hayley’s emphasis on the depth of his stare, and the warmth that radiates from his gaze outwards over his fashionable glasses, which compliments her companion piece of Mina with style.

Find out more about the 27 June Online Market event here… a thriving Facebook market meaning that interested audiences can browse and buy, from home! Cabinet of Curious Creations has an online shop, Facebook page and Instagram account.

By Dr Sorcha Ní Fhlainn

Images thanks to Cabinet of Curious Creations/Hayley Shaw 

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  1. Druid
    Breathtaking art art deliciously seductive, and chilling,

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