The Voyage Out

A series of paintings inspired by Virginia Woolf’s first novel.

Down she looked into the depth of the sea
Down she looked into the depth of the sea

Virginia Woolf on ‘The Voyage Out’

“What I wanted to do was to give the feeling of a vast tumult of life, as various & disorderly as possible, which should be cut short for a moment by the death, & go on again …”

A voyage is a transient event which leaves an impression upon those who have experienced the elements and the passage from one port to the next.

The River
The River
They had dropped anchor
They had dropped anchor
An imperceptible wave
An imperceptible wave
It happened at tea
It happened at tea

Taking the voyage on board The Euphrosyne, from London to Santa Marina in South America, this series of 8 paintings, is each linked to a water-based quotation.

The Voyage had begun
The Voyage had begun
Like a ball of thistledown
Like a ball of thistledown
Visions of a great river
Visions of a great river
nobody ever said a thing they meant, or ever talked of a feeling they felt, but that was what music was for

Rachel Vinrace is a shy young lady who is fanatical about music. Over the course of the journey and her time in Santa Marina amongst the ex-pats, she grows in confidence and finds her voice.

Early on, Rachel is thinking and comes to this conclusion:

“It appeared that nobody ever said a thing they meant, or ever talked of a feeling they felt, but that was what music was for.”

Mrs Dalloway appears as one of the passengers on the ship and declares: "Imagine fields of hollyhocks and violets in mid-ocean! How divine!”.

Mrs Dalloway
The moon poured its light through the empty air

After Rachel’s death, “the moon poured its light through the empty air”.

In 2015, to celebrate the centenary of the publication of The Voyage Out, I challenged myself to create an image which captured the voyage, the earth, seas and skies.

It was one of those magical paintings: I had stopped working on another painting, had an idea, pulled out a new canvas and worked like fury.

It was started and finished in an afternoon.

The Voyage Out
The Voyage Out