Saturday, 27 October 2012

Lawrence Durrell's Clea

Clea, the Alexandrian woman who inspired the character of the same name in Lawrence Durrell's Alexandria Quartet, was a painter called Clea Badaro.  

Clea spoke of the day that Durrell was first brought round to her studio, and though she hated it when people dropped in unexpectedly, she put aside her annoyance when he showed an interest in her work, her paintings of soldiers at the bars and cabarets around town, of harlequins, clowns and circus women on horseback, and she remembered also how he was fascinated by her name. 

'Clea, the gentle, loveable, unknowable Clea', is how Durrell introduces her in the Quartet, 'so disarmingly simple, graceful, self-contained ... poured, while still warm, into the body of a young grace: that is to say, into a body born without instincts or desires'. 

Since her childhood, when she first began to draw, Clea recorded her impressions on almost every piece of paper that came to hand, in school copybooks, on house accounts, in the margins of letters to her friends, stimulated not only by what she saw about her but also by her dreams.  

This is one of Clea's sketches, characters from a circus.