VISITING BERTHA, 2015-2016
As a child, I was fascinated and terrified by Bertha Mason, the first wife of Edward Rochester in Charlotte Brontë's
1847 novel "Jane Eyre". She was the perfect embodiment of Gothic horror: the dark secret, the other, the one
beyond reason and sense, the cause of mysterious and horrifying events, the insurmountable obstacle to everyone's
happiness. Now, reflecting upon this character and bearing in mind that everything I, as a reader, learnt about
Bertha's past was from Rochester's perspective, I experience a different kind of horror – horror caused by trying
to imagine what it meant to be labeled as a 'mad woman' in early 19th century, far away from home and family,
locked up in a room where I would have to spend years with no hope of change.
The sculptures in the photographs where created from plasticine and pieces of string found in the room. While
creating them, I tried to place myself in Bertha's situation and to create portraits of her / my emotional state.
Anna Salmane ©