Many years ago I went to college, and spent the better part of two years drawing people in various states of undress. One of the projects intended to fill our head with ideas was “Pop Art” – which began by being paraded in front of various canvases by Warhol, Ernst, and Lichtenstein at the Tate Gallery in London, while the art tutor spouted lots of long words and sentences, and pretended to be clever.
Apart from Roy Lichtenstein’s work, which I still adore, I was fascinated by Andy Warhol’s prints of Marilyn Monroe.
Back at college some months later I was sitting in the library and happened upon a magazine article about her. Rather than get on with the economics essay I should have been writing, I tried to draw a picture of her – spectacularly unsuccessfully. It annoyed me so much I tried again, and again. Then one day, I started reading the text on the facing page. A few days later I bought a book, which lead to another book, and another.
We have an entire bookshelf in the corner of the room at home, filled with books by Eve Arnold, Normal Mailer, and even Truman Capote – all trying to understand who she was, and the impact she has had on the world.
Through the movies, the stories, the quotes, and the numerous biographies she somehow became a part of my life. A twinkling light in the quiet moments, reminding me what it is to yearn, to wonder, and to shine. I guess in many ways she became a part of all of our lives – you only have to walk up to a news stand all these years later, and will invariably find her face on the front of a magazine or two.