"Medusa Frequency" artist Frances Broomfield talks to russellhoban.org

To kick start the new year russellhoban.org today publishes an exclusive interview with Frances Broomfield, who supplied the wonderful painting for the cover of Russell Hoban's 1987 novel The Medusa Frequency.

The novel is narrated by Herman Orff, who is preoccupied with a number of themes and images including Vermeer's famous portrait, Head of a Young Girl. As he journeys around London in the company of the dismembered head of Orpheus, he encounters various female archetypes, and Broomfield's cover art conflates the two in a unique and unexpected image of "the Vermeer girl" with Medusa snakes emerging from her headband.

"The brief, the intention, was to produce a 'faithful copy' of the Vermeer original," explains Frances, "so I didn't attempt to duplicate it in terms of materials and technique. I simply concentrated on getting the appearance as authentic as I could, at the same time incorporating the snakes in a realistic, organic way.

"Although containing elements of my own style, and informed by my own choices in regard to execution, for me the image remains an enigma."

The interview includes exclusive preparatory sketches for the painting from Frances's own archives.

Read the full interview

Associated titles
The Medusa Frequency