‘Let two mirrors reflect each other; then Satan plays his favourite trick and opens here in his way, (as his partner does in lovers’ gazes) the perspective on infinity…’ Walter Benjamin, The Arcades Project, Mirrors
The Lusitania series of watercolours and small oil paintings was inspired by some eerie photographs of the First-Class cabins of the ill-fated RMS Lusitania. This Cunard Ocean Liner was torpedoed by a German U-boat in 1915 and sank within 18 minutes, 11 miles off the Irish coast.
The photographs were taken in 1907 to advertise the opulence of the First-Class living quarters. Modelled on the suites of five-star hotels, they appeared reassuringly sturdy. In their newness and orderliness, stillness, and total lack of human touch, they evoked the empty stage before the performance.
My vantage point, post the event, was not at all that of the photographer. My fascination was in imagining the confines of these lost spaces, as an apparently infinite labyrinth of interconnecting interiors. My interest was in the mis en abimes of identical features and the ricocheting mirror reflections, creating illusive and fractured spaces, perpetuating, ‘... the always rather anxious impression of “going deeper and deeper” into a limitless world...’ Gaston Bachelard, The Poetics of Space, Intimate Immensity.