Since reading Castle, I’ve read all of Jackson’s novels and all but a few of her short stories and her preoccupation with the personality of houses is constant. In We Have Always Lived in the Castle, Haunting of Hill House, and The Sundial, the home is as much a character as a setting. From the Haunting of Hill House:
“Hill House, not sane, stood by itself against its hills, holding darkness within; it had stood so for eighty years and might stand for eighty more. Within, walls continued upright, bricks met neatly, floors were firm, and doors sensibly shut; silence lay steadily against the wood and stone of Hill House, and whatever walked there, walked alone.”
As a lover of old houses, I connected immediately to the power Jackson bestows on domestic spaces. I see houses as vessels containing memories, injustices, fears, secrets, imperfections, doubts, dust and, of course, lots of knick-knacks. They are repositories for taste, both good and bad. Nervous energy ebbs and flows in a house, especially among the busy patterns of carpets, walls and upholsteries that serve as the backdrops of daily life. I find the inspiration for my drawings in this anxious order.
Shirley Jackson understood how attempts to impose order on the chaos of the mind all too often result in anxiety. People ask me all the time if it’s soothing to make my highly patterned drawings. The answer is no, not at all. In fact, I’m surprised when people imagine otherwise. Stress is the natural result of repetitive work. I’m not a machine, even though, sitting at my drawing table, I’m compelled to behave like one. There’s a fine line between beauty and monotony. When it comes to drawing patterns, I’m always treading that line.