Monday, March 4, 2013


Now Rapunzel has arrived safely at her destination(s) I thought it was time to post images of the final outcome.

I wanted to look at the traditional story of Rapunzel and I was primarily interested by the relationship between the witch and the girl

The witch is not a stereotypical fairy story witch. She has a name, Mother Gothel (apparently a generic term in Germany usually used to designate a godmother). She doesn’t appear to use magic – spells, incantations etc – in the course of the narrative. She obviously has power, or the peasant family wouldn’t have handed over their daughter. She has enough influence to get away with this and keeping her for twelve years before keeping her locked up for a few more. And she probably has wealth, building a tall tower/castle in the middle of a wood, even in medieval Europe, wouldn’t come cheap. 

She presumably cared for the girl. It’s not like the stories of Baba Yaga or Hansel and Gretel where the object was to eat the child. Rapunzel was looked after until she reached puberty then was locked into the tower, presumably to preserve her innocence. The witch, to her way of thinking, was protecting her (medieval Europe not being a particularly safe place for young girls). It makes me wonder about the witches own history.

None of these ideas have been backed up by research. They are purely based on what I know, half remember and have assumed.   But given that I am responding to an unread piece of buried writing which in turn alludes to a handed down fairy tale I don’t feel that the facts need get in the way of a good story.

The tall format (and embossing on the cover) references the tower. I wanted to use the concertina format to play with the idea of stories having different interpretations and readers bringing their own viewpoint to the narrative. How you fold the book influences alters the visible image and these can be read in different ways.

The witch and Rapunzel

Together inside the tower encircled by the dangers outside

A hint of the intruder/outside influences which will drive a wedge between them

The outcome of the relationship between Rapunzel and the prince

The cyclical nature of the story. In the original Rapunzel became pregnant. Does Rapunzel become the older woman trying to protect her child? (I decided in the end to use soft covers on the book so that they don’t intrude when it is viewed as a circle) 


Jennifer said...


Roberta said...

I am quite speechless. What a wonderful way of interpreting this fairy tale. I had never given it much thought but you have brought it to life in a new and wonderful way.

Hmm. I guess I wasn't quite as speechless as I first thought.

The Elephant's Child said...

How magical. In every sense of the word. Thank you for bringing Rapunzel to us.

paperworker said...

As a lucky recipient of this magical little book, I can tell you it is delightful to view in person. I wish you ALL could see it in person. Well done, Jac!

Helen M said...

This is an exquisite book Jac and I wish I was in group 4 too. I enjoyed reading all your experiments when putting the book together and it's wonderful to see the fantastic result.

Fiona Dempster said...

I love my Rapunzel Jac - she is so strong and fragile...Thank you!

Jack Oudyn said...

Great interpretation,a perfectly magical little book that works so well conceptually.Great stuff,Jac!

Angela said...

This book looks absolutely beautiful. I love the colours and textures. I want to touch it :-)

Debbie Kogan said...

Jac, I love how your book depicts the growing space between the witch and Rapunzel, in your interpretation of their relationship. I've mentioned this book to a friend of mine in Los Angeles who has a sculpture of Rapunzel on the outside wall of her house, and she is eager to acquire a copy of your book. Can you provide some information about whether there are copies available for sale?

Thanks so much!

alison said...

A very clever book and enjoyed the story. The artwork is lovely and I agree with the previous comments re it's magical aura.