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Flying, Margaret, Mouse, Dog

Dreamed 1894-9? (flying dreams, black dog dreams) and February 1913 (mouse/Margaret/cemetery dream) by Paul Nash,
done as a collage/comics/poem by Dave McKean; from Black Dog: The Dreams of Paul Nash, 2016, ch. 2.

INTRODUCTION

As a child, the painter Paul Nash often dreamed he flew, but also of a terrifying black dog (English folklore is full of supernatural black dogs associated with death).

In 1913, the night he met his future wife Margaret, he had chased, tried to kill, and then saved a mouse, provoking a surreal nightmare in which he becomes The Mouse.

A year later he began his rise to fame, painting savage landscapes of the trenches of World War I--some of the strongest antiwar protests of his era.

A century later, artist and filmmaker Dave McKean was commissioned to create a graphic biography of Paul Nash. He used his signature collage/comics medium, but with a palette, style and motifs echoing Nash's own work. The resulting book, Black Dog: The Dreams of Paul Nash, is spectacular, some of McKean's best work ever, bringing out much that Nash (English and understated when writing not painting) merely implied in his own Outline: an Autobiography.

This dream sequence blends Nash's childhood dreams (flying, the black dog) with his mouse nightmare on the eve of the war.


Excerpt from 'Black Dog: The Dreams of Paul Nash' by Dave McKean. Excerpt from 'Black Dog: The Dreams of Paul Nash' by Dave McKean.
Excerpt from 'Black Dog: The Dreams of Paul Nash' by Dave McKean.
Excerpt from 'Black Dog: The Dreams of Paul Nash' by Dave McKean.
Excerpt from 'Black Dog: The Dreams of Paul Nash' by Dave McKean.

AFTERNOTE

Dream-collaborations are rare. Though it's obvious a skilled artist might portray your dream better than you the dreamer could, the private nature of a dream seems to make most artists hesitate, even with a living dreamer to guide them. Posthumous reinterpetation is even rarer. I posted this partly to prove that with enough research and sympathetic reading it's possible to do, and do well. For more examples of art rendering others' dreams, see collaborations.

Fish-dirigible over London; excerpt from 'Black Dog: The Dreams of Paul Nash' by Dave McKean. Click to enlarge.



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