Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that I recently signed myself up for a Horticulture Certificate with the Open Polytech, and have been assiduously studying the physical and chemical properties of soils all week – all in the service of surviving this largely unremunerated artist’s life I lead: I’m feeling all earthy today, so I decided that caves – and the things one finds in caves – will make an admirable subject for this blog.
Moreover, it elegantly bridges the chasm between Science Fiction and Fantasy – the Future and the Past – as in the opening illustration, which might be a refuge for future generations, or an underground Elven kingdom of old.
More firmly situated in the future is the above illustration – though, with its wistful Asian influences, it might just as well represent some ancient culture fond of mathematics, and neat geometric structures.
What’s the difference, really, between these two subterranean city streets? One might be populated by goblins and gnomes, or possibly smurfs – the other more likely by blade runners, or some futuristic drug mafia: but the basic idea is remarkably similar.
Caves are mysterious all in their own right. They don’t need to house an underground civilization, or vestiges of some forgotten world, like in Jules Verne’s “Journey to the Center of the Earth”, in order to be fascinating. The above ice cave comes complete with a fictitious historical scientific event
One never knows what one will find in a cave. Bilbo Baggins famously found Gollum, and a certain gold ring. Other people find other treasure – cursed or not. But beware: there might be dragons lurking!
This last image is an illustration for Robin Hobb’s “Liveship Trader” trilogy, illustrated by my lovely friend and fellow fantasy illustrator Stéphanie Noverraz, who is rather an expert at visually recreating Robin Hobb’s worlds!
The ultimate cave is the Underworld, with a capital U: that place where, in so many cultures, the dead people are supposed to go. Above is a page from a stunning graphic novel, created with 3D software, which tells the story of one lost soul’s journey across the River Styx. The rest of the pages is here. Anyone want to publish these people? I’d definitely buy the book.
Gloomy or well lit; a place for survival in a far-off future, or filled with debris from the past: caves are a return to the source. We all descend from cavemen and women. We all came from our mother’s womb, biologically and metaphorically.
When it comes to ruins of ancient civilisations, Atlantis is the archetype: not underground of course, but rather under water: but still, buried deep, and dreaming on.
All images are copyright the respective artist, and may not be reproduced without their permission.