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Golden Compass

The Golden Compass

Book: The Golden Compass by Phillip Pullman

Artist: Cara Berberet

Artist’s Statment: This piece was inspired by Phillip Pullman’s The Golden Compass. As a younger child this banned book was one of my favorite stories. With its intricately crafted plot, its wonderful array of characters, and its strong, young, female protagonist The Golden Compass is a book I still find myself returning to. This work was painted with watercolors on illustration board.

Phillip Pullman’s young adult fantasy classic The Golden Compass follows the adventures of Lyra and her shape-shifting animal counterpart Pantalaimon. When it is discovered that young Lyra is able to interpret the golden aletheiometer, a magical instrument few understand, she embarks on a quest to the far north to find her kidnapped friend and free her imprisoned uncle. Along the way she finds both adversaries and allies, opposition and opportunity. Ultimately however, Lyra discovers the extraordinary changes that can be made to a once ordinary destiny.

My art piece inspired by The Golden Compass embodies all that I loved of this book as a child. Pullman populates his inventive narrative with complex, humanly flawed characters (even when many of them are far from human). In my painting I’ve included nods to some of these characters including the Texan balloonist Lee Scoresby and the sagacious witch Serafina Pekkala. Overall though, my true love for the book came from the duo of Lyra and Pantalaimon who I’ve included in the framework of the object that begins their journey – the golden compass. Their curiosity in the world, strength of character, and indomitable spirit are truly the banned book’s shining light.

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