I’m not quite sure what’s been going on the past few days. Everything had been going so well with this Darkest Days project…then I hit a block. My ideas were fucking awful meaning my photos were terrible, I couldn’t find the words to express what I wanted to say and my anxiety about my capability as a creative was horribly all-consuming. I was terrified that, once again, my creativity had abandoned me. This was especially painful because I’d been getting so, so much from this project, in every sense of the word, and it’s only been recently that my creative fire had been rekindled.
So I took a step back. I gave myself some space to breathe and decided I was going to try, really try, not to pressurize myself to create impeccable imagery and texts. I said to myself that because of the nature of this project – creating something every single day and sharing it – I need to be accepting of imperfection.
So here I am again, writing to you and keeping in my mind all the time that whatever I do doesn’t need to be flawless.
Now that’s been said, I’m going to tell you about The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe and why I’ve decided to portray the White Witch.
When I was small, my dad recorded The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe off the TV (it was the BBC series that first aired in 1988) and it became a staple of my childhood. The music for the opening credits had a lasting impact on me and even today as an adult, when I hear it, I get a rush quite like nothing else.
My favourite character in the story was (naturally) the White Witch, who froze Narnia into an endless winter with no Christmas. The half-jinn, half-giant captivated little me from the moment she drew up in her magnificent sleigh with her dramatic furs, towering crown and luminous pale skin. Served by wolves, ghouls, boggles, hags, werewolves, black dwarves and spectres, she had absolute control over Narnia and turned to stone any creature who had the gall to defy her.
“The White Witch?” said Edmund; “who’s she?””She is a perfectly terrible person,” said Lucy. “She calls herself the Queen of Narnia thought she has no right to be queen at all, and all the Fauns and Dryands and Naiads and Dwarfs and Animals—at least all the good ones—simply hate her. And she can turn people into stone and do all kinds of horrible things. And she has made a magic so that it is always winter in Narnia—always winter, but it never gets to Christmas. And she drives about on a sledge, drawn by reindeer, with her wand in her hand and a crown on her head.”The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis
One of my favourite scenes is when Edmund goes to the White Witch’s House – a foreboding, starkly beautiful palace built in the early days of her reign. Another favourite moment is when she encounters several Narnians – some squirrels, satyrs, a dwarf and a fox – having a Christmas dinner party that’s been provided by Father Christmas. In her fury, she turns them all the stone.
Another character who bewitched me was Maugrim, a Narnian wolf and The Captain of the White Witch’s Secret Police. In the series, he was a bizarre, humanoid wolf-like creature when he was talking or fighting. But when he was standing guard at the White Witch’s house, he was an actual wolf. He terrified and delighted me in equal measure.
“But she’s no daughter of Eve. She comes of your father Adam’s first wife, her they called Lilith. And she was one of the Jinn. That’s what she comes from on one side. And on the other she comes of the giants. No, no, there isn’t a drop of real human blood in the Witch.”The Lion The Witch And The Wardrobe. C.S. Lewis.
My parents used to have a colossal, extremely old oak wardrobe which, when I was a kid, I would regularly climb inside and see if I could enter Narnia. I was always utterly devastated when I didn’t step out through the old coats and into a snowy forest.