Katrina Naomi, the first writer-in-residence at the Brontë Parsonage Museum as part of its Contemporary Arts programme, has fulfilled many a Brontëite's dream: she has spent time at the Brontë Parsonage having all sorts of Brontëana items brought to her from the collection. She has been allowed to (carefully and with gloved hands) interact with them and just be inspired by them.
This collection serves to humanise the Brontës and see them as at home as possible. Katrina Naomi reports that judging from Charlotte Brontë's dainty boots she seems to have pronated, that a flimsy piece of paper written by Anne less than two months before she died was last valued at 180,000 pounds and that the Brontës' toy lion looks like 'he's been tortured'.
So these are the Brontës, lest we ever forget they were real people. Katrina Naomi's collection seems the perfect complement to another commission made in the framework of the Contemporary Arts Programme: Cornelia Parker's 2006 Brontëan Abstracts. Where Katrina Naomi states that she feels like 'a forensic examiner/unearthing layers of mid-thigh/socks' Cornelia Parker showed us a darn in Anne Brontë's stocking. Where Katrina Naomi admits that Anne Brontë is her favourite but she 'daren't touch/the original [letter] for fear I'd start to cough, my lungs/in revolt', Cornelia Parker showed us Anne Brontë's blood-stained handkerchief.
Just like Charlotte's tiny corset managed to contain the great author that was Charlotte Brontë, so does this small collection contain all of the Brontës, what they were, who they were, how they were, what they did and where they lived, and what they are today. This evocative, subtle collection bears endless readings - we have been drifting in and out of it ever since it arrived - and shows both the lasting and varied inspiration of the Brontë sisters in modern culture and, once again, the success of the Contemporary Arts Programme.