Tallulah Fontaine

Tallulah Fontaine is an illustrator and zine maker currently based in Toronto, Canada. We invited her to take a sonnet as inspiration and create a couple of new illustrations to highlight the importance of Shakespeare this year. Here she answered some questions in regards to her inspiration behind sonnet 43.

To see more of Tallulah's work, please click here

Tell us what sonnet you chose and what inspired you about it? 

I chose sonnet 43 in which the poet writes about the absence of a loved one and the days and nights between them. I was drawn to the duality of the poem and was inspired to make two pieces that would illustrate both the light and darkness described. Both pieces are from the perspective of the poet imagining or remembering his subject. The first illustration is set during the daytime when the poet's eyes are wide open but his loved one appears in shadow. I was inspired by a recent trip to a famous lotus and cycad garden and wanted to recreated those shapes and colours in my drawing.

The second piece is the night time scene. The poet is asleep but can now see his subject in clear detail and colour. The surroundings are a dark and distorted reflection of the original scene.

What is it about Shakespeare's words and poems that are still relevant today? 

For me, most of my experiences with Shakespeare has always been through the interpretation of his work through ballet. I studied ballet for years and loved seeing performances of A Midsummer Night's Dream or Romeo and Juliet. While there's no dialogue in his work, his stories and the imagery they bring to life still feel as fresh and relevant as ever.

His work is so beloved that it has become canonized and embedded in our society in a way that it trickles through all the arts. There's so much left to be inspired by.

Sonnet 43

When most I wink, then do mine eyes best see, 

For all the day they view things unrespected; 

But when I sleep, in dreams they look on thee, 

And darkly bright are bright in dark directed; 

Then thou, whose shadow shadows doth make bright, 

How would thy shadow's form form happy show 

To the clear day with thy much clearer light, 

When to unseeing eyes thy shade shines so? 

How would, I say, mine eyes be blessed made 

By looking on thee in the living day, 

When in dead night thy fair imperfect shade

Through heavy sleep on sightless eyes doth stay?

All days are nights to see till I see thee,

And nights bright days when dreams do show thee me.