Having had two separate visitors to the British Library’s Out of this World exhibition tell me that some of my work was featured there, it’s been a good to finally discover what was on display. Many thanks to John Keogh for notifying me of his exhibition photo set which includes the above shot of the relevant display case. This is an odd collection for what’s been widely advertised as a science fiction event. Pages from my 1988 adaptation of The Call of Cthulhu are in there along with other fantasy and horror titles including Neil Gaiman’s Sandman, Incarnate by Ramsey Campbell, an edition of Fantasy & Science Fiction with Robert Holdstock’s Mythago Wood on the cover, and a Sidney Sime illustration for Lord Dunsany’s Gods of Pergana. Cthulhu originates out of this world, of course, and that phrase is general enough to encompass other genres.
This page from the climax of Lovecraft’s story was the first drawing I made of the living Cthulhu, all earlier representations following Lovecraft’s scheme of the creature manifesting throughout history in different human artworks and religious icons. Since most of those representations are highly stylised I wanted to make the awful reality seem a lot more visceral and even incoherent, hence the mass of flailing tentacles and ropes of slime. This is also the only full view you receive, everything else is fragmentary and allusive so there’s space for the reader’s imagination. I think the book in the library display is the Lovecraft anthology The Starry Wisdom but The Call of Cthulhu is also present in my Haunter of the Dark collection which includes a couple more portraits of “the green, sticky spawn of the stars”.
Out of this World is a free exhibition which will run to September 25th, 2011.