Painter and printmaker Stella Bethlehem from Narinsilk discusses how the work of the Pre-Raphaelites influences her own craft.

Sir John Everett Millais, Bt, 'Ophelia' 1851-2

Sir John Everett Millais, Bt
Ophelia 1851-2
Oil on canvas
support: 762 x 1118 mm frame: 1105 x 1458 x 145 mm
Presented by Sir Henry Tate 1894

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Ophelia is a true childhood favourite of mine, now admired in its full glory.

It is a masterful representation of all that is offered through the shades and textures of nature, and its majestic creativity and destructive eventuality.

I still find my childhood interpretations of this painting fitting:

Emerging from the murky dark depths of a pool is a mystical beauty released from the gravity of the dark, moist and sterile environment’. ‘The womb’ into reality, ‘life and the fine line that segregates it from death’ is shown by the masterful representation of death: ‘shades of brown’ and life: ‘shades of green’ each struggling to establish their independent existence.

Of course, now I could inverse my interpretation which would be just as fitting, however, I think the earlier captures the creativity of this masterful artist in a more inspiring fashion 

For me, nature and all that it represents is the prelude to all creative work and the Pre-Raphaelites return to nature, the abundance of detail, the intense colour and complex composition is their homage to nature and its creativity.

The Pre-Raphaelites’ daring departure from the norm and establishment of the movement has been an encouragement to all creators since. The advent of new materials and their creative use of techniques have contributed to the Art and Crafts movement which continues to this date. However, for me, the essence of most successful creative work remains the artistic utilisation of nature’s textures and colours, representing them in a contemporary form with accents of the classic. These details were so eloquently transferred on to the canvas (or media of their choice) by the Masters of the movement.

The impact of the Pre-Raphaelites creations on my work as an artist is immeasurable and they continue to enhance my own exploration of my favourite media and in developing my own creative techniques.

Stella Bethlehem is a UK-based silk painter and printmaker who works with floral and natural motifs. You can see her work at Late at Tate Britain on Friday 7 December 2012.