Conversation between Victoria Bean and Bill Stewart :
Stewart: "The poems seem to be laid out like everything's fine, then zap, everything is shitty — but at least we have hope. ... "
Bean: "The layout of the poems, if you blurred or squinted your eyes in order to make the text just an image, are meant to be 'shadows' the main text escaping like the misery did from one fold while the darker title (the illusion of life before) is headed inwards, towards another fold. It is a modern day Pandora, where everything is basically acceptable but there's always a slap of reality to what seems like a jolly life of building snowmen or watching cookery programmes (which "feast" is about). Ironically the bleakest poem is hope. Hope was left in the box and hope is what makes everything actually 'bad' or always harder to bear because it gives you a chance for life/circumstance never to be final."
Stewart: "I can see its delicacy, appreciate the anxiety it inspires and see how it might parallel Pandora's feelings. But is there something else I'm missing?"
Bean: "In the context of other artists' books I've tried to create a book that's been pared down to its absolute minimum. It's monochrome. It's using only the shape of the page to hint at the box. Its type is its only illustration and plays as the shadow/misery. It's self binding. There are no serifs on the type. There's a bit of a free for all feeling over here with artist's books at the moment now that printing and digital printing/publishing is so easily available to everyone. So I purposely gave myself some strict and considered boundaries within this medium."
Stewart: "Also, the choice of subject: I've always been uneasy with the Pandora myth, except as another patriarchal blame-laying ploy – all the bad is a result of an independent woman, who are least one who won't obey."
Bean: "Funnily enough I never saw it like that. What drew me to this myth was the fact that I would have opened the box too."
Stewart: "Did you have any reason for choosing this approach?"
Bean: "I had just left the Royal College of Art where I'd done a printmaking MA. I hadn't been pleased with my visual work there, but had been fortunate enough to have had an art critic/novelist who had an incredible teaching ability in creative writing. She gave us the only structure within the art school and because of that I found I could tell when my work had a ring of truth or not. At this time Ron King invited me to join Circle Press and I sat there for days on end trying to work my photographs into pieces of work and then, after a severe talking to myself, I decided to use my poetry as a way of sketching, drawing and making portraits."
Stewart: "And, have you published poetry anywhere else?"
Bean: "The Spectator has just taken two poems for their magazine in London. The Salzburg Poetry Review published a poem in October about the Rwandan Genocide - four of the people accused had been working in Britain among other things as janitors - and I came across them in court sitting in the dock in cardigans and glasses looking incredibly benign. The revamped Reader’s Digest in the UK is doing a six page feature on some work I’ve just done after spending a year sitting in the public gallery in a Magistrate’s court and writing poems about the cases there. Richard Price at the British Library has also featured ten of my poems in his publication."