Sunday, February 13, 2011

The Black Rabbit of Inlé

Thought I'd post a progress shot of my piece for an upcoming show - "Inlé", curated by Greg "Craola" Simkins, opening next month at Gallery 1988 Melrose.  The show is based upon the character "The Black Rabbit of Inlé" from Richard Adams' beautiful novel, Watership Down.

I'm only going to post a shot of his face for now, since everything else, while in progress, can be described with words like "pieces", "mess",  and "like a bomb went off"...

If you've read the book, you're familiar with this character, as part of every rabbit's cosmology (and if you haven't read it, get thee to a library now! You don't want to live your life without this amazing book in your brain, seriously). He is described this way:

"Now, as you all know, the Black Rabbit of Inlé is fear and everlasting darkness. He is a rabbit, but he is that cold, bad dream from which we can only entreat Lord Frith to save us today and tomorrow. When the snare is set in the gap, the Black Rabbit knows where the peg is driven; and when the weasel dances, the Black Rabbit is not far off. You all know how some rabbits seem just to throw their lives away between two jokes and a theft: but the truth is that their foolishness comes from the Black Rabbit, for it is by his will that they do not smell the dog or see the gun. The Black Rabbit brings sickness too. Or again, he will come in the night and call a rabbit by name: and then that rabbit must go out to him, even though he may be young and strong to save himself from any other danger. He goes with the Black Rabbit and leaves no trace behind. Some say that the Black Rabbit hates us and wants our destruction. But the truth is- or so they taught me- that he, too, serves Lord Frith and does no more than his appointed task- to bring about what must be. We come into the world and we have to go: but we do not go merely to served to the turn of one enemy or another." 

I suppose the Black Rabbit is sort of an Angel of Death - he is not evil or malevolent, yet is something to be feared. He does not choose who dies, he simply carries out the task that Lord Frith (the rabbits' sun god) appoints him to do. "Inlé" is also the rabbit word for "moon", so I chose to put a moon motif on his forehead, underneath a sort of supernatural "third eye". He is supposed to have red eyes, so I chose to use the focused, red eyes of a fox - a natural predator of the rabbit, which is a tool the Black Rabbit could use in his grim work.

I'm pretty excited to be involved in this project, and I'll post more pictures and stuff very soon, all is coming together pretty quickly these past few days.


  1. I can't wait to see the finished piece! Love the detail on the forehead design!

  2. Stunning. This book has been on my list for awhile now, I think I'll read it next :)

  3. Rhiannon, it's a true classic! I don't have time to sit down and read (something I love to do, but just can't these days), but I found a great audiobook version at the library. Make sure you get the unabridged version if you listen to it, but the narration was really great and totally conveyed the spirit of the book :)

  4. i just picked up a copy! frantically finishing up the Japanese horror trilogy of the ring so i can read it.

    The rabbit came out absolutely beautiful. I love those little hands and the way he's coming out from the wood, that looks in itself very aged and has seen some days.


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