Our discussions about the importance and meaning of dreams in The Tempest reminded me of an artist, Jim Shaw. He is known for a series of drawings he did based off of his own dreams in order to commemorate and prolong the magic that ends the moment we awaken. This notion relates to one that Caliban from The Tempest expresses in act 3 scene 2 - “when I waked/ I cried to dream again” – ultimately acknowledging that our dreams are in fact illusive and unattainable in real life.
Still, Shaw’s work uncannily connects this same breach between fantasy and reality that Caliban laments. His dream drawings are not a surreal body of work, but one that attains an equilibrium by presenting fantastic, figurative scenes in a concrete, narrative, matter-of-fact manner.
As in the case of this particular drawing – Heather – Shaw reaches this equilibrium visually, through the balanced juxtaposition of realistic rendering with abstract lines.
To create his dream drawings (a collection of over 200 pieces!) Shaw kept a voice-activated tape recorder next to his bed as he slept. The moment he awoke from a dream, he would immediately regurgitate everything he could remember. Later, he would play back the recording and draw out these images or stories. His drawings make the inspirational ideas that surface during sleep accessible, and dreams a cohesive part of reality.
In regards to The Tempest, had Caliban the technology to record and play back his own dreams, I wonder if he would find himself uplifted from the burden of reality, or only more reminded that his dreams were unattainable.