Strictly speaking, there was some drawing, cutting and sticking in this session. I ran out of time so it remains unfinished.
We had a look at the exhibition of photographs of Marilyn that was on display at the Hatton Gallery, and discussed how she was portrayed. The photos ranged from the very beginning of her career to the height of her fame.
We had a selection of prints, coloured tissue paper, felt tip pens, coloured and graphite pencils for creating something, and not quite enough time. This was a very unfamiliar way of working for me and Marilyn is such an icon that I took a while to think about what to do. How can anyone better the Warhol Marilyns? I chose an image from a wallpaper printed with images of Marilyn that Hazel, our tutor, had found. It would have been a very odd design of wallpaper to have on one’s walls.
This photograph of Marilyn shows her putting her make up on whilst looking in a mirror that is not shown. I thought about how she might have been feeling as she painted on the image that is so familiar to us. When I was young, I found it difficult to set foot beyond the front door without make up on to protect me from the world. It was a mask to present a public self. Looking at the difference between the more natural look of young Norma Jean before her career took off and this image, I wondered how much she had felt that the make up was a mask she put on, her carefully-constructed public façade. The posters for most of the films show her cast as a sexy, dizzy blonde. How much could any of us know how she felt and thought underneath that image?
I thought about the darkness that there must have been at times behind her dazzling image; how she could have thought that other people saw her merely as a cipher. I thought about the increasing chaos in the months and weeks before she died.
Looking at the exhibition at the Hatton, I got the impression that she was an intelligent woman, and that the beauty came from within more than from the powder and paint. I have always thought that her acting talent was greater than it seemed to be regarded by some, and that she needed more stretching roles.
I think that if she had been born a few decades later, she would have gone to university, perhaps ended up acting in theatres in New York rather than Hollywood films. Maybe Norma Jean would have become a philosopher or a psychoanalyst or a physicist or the first female President of the United States. Yes, Marilyn Monroe, the best President the United States never had…