Penelope and Her Suitors

The 3 panels of this tryptych are each human sized. In the centre stands Penelope, on the two flanking panels her suitors assemble. They wear their hearts on their sleeves.

This piece is inspired by the story, in Homer’s Odyssey, of Penelope, the wife of Odysseus. She waits in their Palace for his return from the Trojan wars. As time goes by and Odysseus has stlll not returned suitors arrive and set up home in the palace. They feast every night on Odysseus’ wine and food They make loose with his serving women. Penelope avoids their suit by saying she will choose a husband once she has finished weaving a funeral shroud for Odysseus’ father. She unpicks it every night and starts afresh every day.

I concentrate in this piece on the suitors’ sense of entitlement, their predatory and duplicitous behaviour. They adopt this persona and that persona. Vying to seize Penelope’s wealth and power, they charm, they boast, they posture, they threaten.

Penelope stands firm and loyal. But at what cost to her?

The unflinching light the Greek myths shed on human behaviour is chilling and simultaneously exhilarating. You know you are seeing the truth. This myth in particular, in our post #metoo world, speaks to me of our times, and men in power and privilege do not come out well. Literally as it happens; on his return Odysseus slaughters every one of them.