Chris Berens

Shelley and Mary

mixed media on panel
26 x 18 cm 2022

Mary is the daughter of a feminist and a philosopher. She is the mistress of a famous writer and poet, who on a regular basis organizes gatherings in which contemporary literary heavyweights congregate. Mary would sit in the corner as discrete observer. At age of 19, in the Year Without a Summer, Mary accompanied her lover and his important writer friends to stay with a befriended Lord. Cold and incessant rain confined them to the house for months on end. Mary, raised to act like a lady, withdrew herself from her distinguished superiors.

Sitting around a log fire in the Lord’s villa, the elite company amused themselves with making up ghost stories, one even worse than the next. Her husband and his sophisticated friends laughed at the poor quality of their own stories and counted themselves lucky for not having a witness of any consequence. Mary, raised to think like a warrior, sat at the far end of the room, snuggled up to her soul companion Shelley for warmth and comfort and together and in silence, they cooked up the greatest story of all time.

SHELLEY AND MARY have a good sense of self-value and will not let climate, spirit of the time or expectations dictate their self-image. They will not let others tell them what they can and cannot accomplish or be discouraged by other people’s achievements.

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