The Voyage Out

A series of paintings inspired by Virginia Woolf’s first novel.

Down she looked into the depth of the sea copy

Virginia Woolf on ‘The Voyage Out’

“What I wanted to do was to give the feeling of a vast tumult of life, as various & disorderly as possible, which should be cut short for a moment by the death, & go on again …”

The River copy

A voyage is a transient event which leaves an impression upon those who have experienced the elements and the passage from one port to the next.

An imperceptible wave copy
The Voyage had begun copy
It happened at tea copy
The mouth of the Tagus copy
Like a ball of thistledown copy

Taking the voyage on board The Euphrosyne, from London to Santa Marina in South America, this series of 11 paintings, is each linked to a water-based quotation.

Visions of a great river copy
nobody ever said a thing they meant, or ever talked of a feeling they felt, but that was what music was for copy

Rachel Vinrace is a shy young lady who is fanatical about music. Over the course of the journey and her time in Santa Marina amongst the ex-pats, she grows in confidence and finds her voice.

Early on, Rachel is thinking and comes to this conclusion:

“It appeared that nobody ever said a thing they meant, or ever talked of a feeling they felt, but that was what music was for.”

Mrs Dalloway appears as one of the passengers on the ship and declares: "Imagine fields of hollyhocks and violets in mid-ocean! How divine!”.

Mrs Dalloway copy

After Rachel’s death, “the moon poured its light through the empty air”.

Ruth Dent The moon poured its light through the empty air copy

In 2015, to celebrate the centenary of the publication of The Voyage Out, I challenged myself to create an image which captured the voyage, the earth, seas and skies.

It was one of those magical paintings: I had stopped working on another painting, had an idea, pulled out a new canvas and worked like fury.

It was started and finished in an afternoon.

Ruth Dent The Voyage Out oil on canvas 100 x 100cm copy