Madge (2021) Single channel HD, colour with sound, Aspect Ratio 16×9, Duration 8’2” Dimensions Variable
For the film Madge, I took as my starting point Christopher Anstey’s An Election Ball, published in 1776 and illustrated by C.W.Bampfylde of Hestercombe. The book takes the form of three poetical letters written by a Mr Inkle to his wife Dinah about their daughter Margery (Madge) and the extraordinary preparations she makes before her debut into the social scene at the election ball. My film is an updated satirical look at Georgian society from a contemporary woman’s point of view. The original illustration that I used for inspiration, depicts Madge at her dressing table in her underwear with her father looking on in a seemingly lustful manner. However, in the film, only the voice of Mr Inkle is heard as he dictates his letter. It was this power relationship that I wanted to turn on its head. In the text, Mr Inkle declares his intentions for his daughter: that she may catch a wealthy husband who will in turn provide him with a pension. At the same time he despairs at the sartorial shenanigans she seems to need to perform in order to make this happen. Mr Inkle uses many images of meat and animals as metaphors for women. However, in my film, Madge rejects everything that society expects of her and abandons her toilet, putting her effort instead into preparing a meat feast banquet for one which she eats alone in the final scene.
The film was commissioned by Hestercombe Gallery in Somerset to commemorate the tercentenary of Coplestone Warre Bamfylde, (1720-1791).