Something to crow about?

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , on November 15, 2020 by echostains

Crow by Arthur Rackham

The other day, feeling a bit miserable looking at the battering rain and dark skies, I began to add some gothic pins to my Pinterest. I came across some crow related items and thought that it would make a good blog theme.

I was struck by the number of Crow pictures I came across.

A murder of crows

A ‘murder of crows’ is a medieval collective term for these birds. Poor people believed that the birds were sent by the devil and were really witches in disguise.

What is it about crows that makes them look so sinister? Traditionally the colour black is associated with mystery, though technically black is not an actual colour, as it completely absorbs colours. That is indeed a mystery in itself, though only one of them.

Black – the ‘colour’ of mystery

The Norse God Odin is sometimes depicted with a another black bird – a raven as his companion. As well as being a carrion loving bird (therefore associated with life and death), the black bird’s croaking voice has become associated with the ability to prophetcise the future and reveal that which is hidden.

Odin and Raven

But back to crows, who are part of the same Corvidae family of ravens. The black bird like mask worn by the Plague Doctor in the 1600s, brought a sense of not relief but more of fear and loathing whenever he was sighted.

Although sinister, the mask actually had a practical purpose. An eye was made of glass for the doctor to see out of and the hollow beak was filled with medicinal herbs, as well as providing two holes in the ‘nostrils’ for breathing .

From a crow being a bird, to a man dressing up as a crow, the association with death, medicine and the future is becoming more black than orange, especially with our political climate and global issues.

Enter The Crowman. The Crowman was also a travelling medicine man who offered ‘little brighteners’ for the ailing from his medicine bag as he went along his way. He may have disappeared but his ‘little brightener has remained in the form of Gin😄

The crowman as featured in the TV series ‘Worzel Gummidge’ was a sinister figure who created scarecrow Worzel. The Crowman makes Worzel many different inter changeable heads to suit different occasions and situations.

Worzel’s ‘Handsome’ head

Amongst these heads, Worzel had a ‘thinking’ head , a handsome head to court the ladies, a Riddle me Ree head and a posh head.

Worzel and Crowman

In Rock band Jethro Tull’s ‘Jack Frost and the Hooded Crow’ the association between death, cold and Christmas warns the listener to be charitable to others who have little and remember the true spirit of the Christmas message:

Jack Frost and the Hooded Crow. (1982)

Through long December nights we talk in words of rain or snow,
while you, through chattering teeth, reply and curse us as you go.
Why not spare a thought this day for those who have no flame
to warm their bones at Christmas time?
Say Jack Frost and the Hooded Crow.

Now as the last broad oak leaf falls, we beg: consider this:
there’s some who have no coin to save for turkey, wine or gifts.
No children’s laughter round the fire, no family left to know.
So lend a warm and a helping hand:
say Jack Frost and the Hooded Crow.
As holly pricks and ivy clings, your fate is none too clear.
The Lord may find you wanting, let your good fortune disappear.
All homely comforts blown away and all that’s left to show
is to share your joy at Christmas time
with Jack Frost and the Hooded Crow.

Through long December nights we talk in words of rain or snow,
while you, through chattering teeth, reply and curse us as you go.
Why not spare a thought this day for those who have no flame
to warm their bones at Christmas time?
Say Jack Frost and the Hooded Crow.

By Ian Anderson
Thanks also to;

Jack Frost and the Hooded Crow lyric Here

Arthur Rackham ‘Crow’ Here

History of the Plague Doctor

Crowman legend

Jack Frost and the Hooded Crow video Here

Reasons to be Chairful 1…2…3

Posted in Uncategorized on November 12, 2020 by echostains

Brightening up this dreary lockdown with quirky chairs seems the way to drum the way out of the dols at the moment, so here’s some artistic sitting imaginative images. Are you sitting comfortably?

It started with a Kiss according to Austrian painter Gustav Klimt (1862-1918). This beautiful upcycled, hand painted chair from FendosArt will engulf you in a romantic golden aura of opulence.

Designist

The top of bottom of this chair is an anatomical matter as this French designer Jeane Prouve proves. The strength of its back legs is its famous design feature. This decorative version will make you fall head over heels and cheer you with its quirkiness here

A double helping of artist Todd Fendos designs. American Regionalist artist, Grant Wood (1891-1942) iconic American Gothic is transformed into two prim and proper chairs – so sit up straight now. Don’t be worrying about that old pitchfork though… the dentist masquerading as a farmer has got your back👍

Sit back and watch a horror or psychological thriller, Scream, scream and scream again. Norwegian painter Edvard Munch famous painting ‘The Scream’ (1893) gets an update by Todd Foden again.

Having had four chairful’s – and there’s more where this came from🤔🙄 here’s the inspiration behind this post.

The Ian Dury Memorial Bench (2002) is situated in Poets Corner of Richmond Park, which is within the grounds of Pembroke Lodge, London.

The bench commemorates punk rock/ new wave singer, songwriter, actor Ian Dury (1942-2000) who along with his band The Blockheads rose to fame in the late 1970s.

The bench was designed by Mil Stricevic and was designed to let people listen to Ian’s music by interacting with the ‘talking’ park bench via headphones to real sound tracks. The headphones are plugged into MP3 players which are actually embedded in the arms.

If you would like to sit back, enjoy the views and count your reasons to be cheerful whilst listening to Ian’s music, you can visit Here

More about Ian and the talking bench Here

Ian Dury image

Bacon by Lighbulb

Posted in Uncategorized on September 6, 2020 by echostains

One from my ‘Yesterdays archive

I came across this interesting video today about an exhibition of Francis’ Bacon‘s work called ‘Francis Bacon, A Terrible Beauty.  The exhibition, which ran from 28th October 2009 – 7th March 2010 was at the Hugh Lane City Gallery, Dublin Ireland. Although I didn’t manage to get to this exhibition, I have been to the Hugh Lane Gallery and seen Bacon’s studio.  When I used to paint down in my cellar. My space looked very much like this (it’s not a big space and has no natural light, just a bare lightbulb just like Bacon’s).  This particular exhibition as well as celebrating Bacon’s Dublin roots, shows the unusual way in which Bacon worked.  Photographs by John Deakin were found all over Bacon’s studio.  Deakin a friend of Bacon’s was an exceptional photographer, brutally honest and just a bit sleazy (the man himself wasn’t an easy man and could be rather unpredictable)  The photos of a very young Lucien Freud in particular reveal the artist in his bohemian habitat and the crumpled, trodden, paint stained, creased and  ripped negatives and photos show Bacon’s fascination with photographic images –  and how he translated this (including their state) into his work.

Thanks to Philip Hartigan video

Continue reading

Goodbye Dorothea Tanning. Gone But Not Forgotten.

Posted in ART, ART HISTORY with tags , , , , , on August 25, 2020 by echostains

To commemorate this wonderful Surrealist artist, I dedicate this post.

The oldest living Surrealist artist Dorothea Tanning passed away January 31 2012 at the great age of 101.  Tanning was born in Galesburg Illinois USA 1910, attending Knox College  before living in Chicago for several years.  In 1936 whilst attending the exhibition  Fantastic Art, Dada and Surrealism at the Museum of Modern Art New York, Tanning discovered the wonderful world of Surrealism and Dada.  To support herself, Tanning worked as a commercial artist, but she  soon began to work on her own surreal paintings in the early 1940s.

Lee Millar portrait of Tanning and Ernst

She was introduced to Julien Levy, a gallery owner who was to show her work and give her two one person exhibitions in 1944 and 1948.  He introduced her to a circle of Surrealists  whose work he was showing in his New York gallery.  The young artist fell immediately in love with German surrealist Max Ernst and married him in 1946.  Tanning’s surreal paintings have a dreamlike quality and a very individual style.

She lived in  France with Ernst after the war for 28 years.  Her work features in MOMA. The George Pompidou Centre. The Tate Gallery London and many more collections around the world.  She created costumes for  Balanchine between the 1940s and 50s and sculptures in the 70s

Maternity 1946

At the age of 91 the artist was asked how she felt about carrying the surrealist banner;-

I guess I’ll be called a surrealist forever, like a tattoo: “D. Loves S.” I still believe in the surrealist effort to plumb our deepest subconscious to find out about ourselves. But please don’t say I’m carrying the surrealist banner. The movement ended in the ’50s and my own work had moved on so far by the ’60s that being a called a surrealist today makes me feel like a fossil!

Birthday 1942

Tanning moved back to New York in 1979 after Ernst’s death. Among others, she found a friend in Pulitzer Prize-winning poet James Merrill. It was Merrill

 “Who more than anyone at that point of my life, made me realize that living was still wonderful even though I felt that my loss, Max, had left nothing but ashes,” she says. “So if I took up brushes again, and the pen, to work for 20 more solitary years — and am still at it — it was Jimmy who made me want to, and so proved himself right.”

Tanning published her first book in 1986, The book is a collection of reminiscences and is called “Birthday,” after her most famous painting.

EineKleineNachtmusik

Her career spanned 6 decades, she was a printmaker, sculptor – she  wrote and published  poems and a novel.  She counselled young artists with these words;-

“Keep your eye on your inner world and keep away from ads, idiots and movie stars.”

I was lucky enough to see her work in 2001 at a surrealist exhibition at the Tate Modern, called ‘Desire Unbound’ 2001 .  Her dreamlike scenarios work ensure that she is still known as a surrealist.

Palaestra 1947

 

One of my posts about Women Surrealists and their work can be found here

Night Music image from here

Voltage, Palaestra, Ernst and Tanning, Eine Kleine Nachtmusik portrait by Lee Millar, Maternity from the wonderful dorotheatanning.org where lots of her work can be found

Birthday image from here

More about Dorothea Tanning can be found here

Interview with the artist can be found here

Happy Birthday Kathe Kollwitz and Atemisia Gentileschi (revisited)

Posted in Uncategorized on July 8, 2020 by echostains

artemisia_gentileschi_selfportrait_martyrWe celebrate two artists birthdays today.  Italian Baroque painter Artemisia Gentileschi (1593 – 1656) and German painter, printmaker and sculptor Kathe Kollwitz (1867 -1945).  I have already written about Gentileschi in my post ‘Behind the Paint – Susannah and the Elders by Artemisia Gentileschi’  There is a good website which is dedicated to this artist  here

Kollowitz had great empathy towards the less fortunate of society and this strongly underlines her work.

Kathe Kollwitz ‘Weavers Uprising’

Although her work started of Naturalistically,  Expressionist qualities found their way into her later work.  Kathe married doctor Karl Kollwitz who worked in the poorer areas of Berlin.  She taught art at a school for women artists and began exhibiting her work in Dresden.  A Weavers uprising (1893 -97) proved very popular and this was followed up by Peasants’ War’ (1902 – 1908).

Hunger by Kathe Kollwitz

Kollwitz was a Socialist and  contributed a lot of drawings which depict the poverty of the working class of Germany in this period.  She also contributed work to Simplicissimus a journal.  When her soldier son Peter was killed in 1914, the artist began a series of works that showed the effect war has upon women.

kollwitz widows and orphans

‘Killed in Action’,  Widows and Orphans and The Survivors were all worked between 1919 and 1923.  Kollwitz also illustrated political posters for organisations, for example IAH (International Workers Aid).

Sadly history repeated itself and Kollwitz’s  grandson (also called Peter) was killed in the second World War.  The artist herself died in 1945.  A good biography about Kollwitz can be found here

Kollwitz woman with dead child 1903 etching

Woman with dead child etching from hereWidows and Orphans image from here.  Several good images from hereWeavers uprising image from here  Susanna and the elders Gentileschi image from here

 

 

 

Like a Beer Tray in the Bar

Posted in Collections, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on June 3, 2020 by echostains

I have always been interested in metal. All things made of metal, enamelled metal, iron, tins, heavy metal.

I started out collecting tins – and this is where my other collecting interest (old advertising) converged. I started out with advertising tins like ‘Oxo’ and progressed onto biscuit tins.

3b24e7ce935196c6bc21cce45f349259

From biscuit tins, came enamelled advertising signs. I collected a few of these until they became too popular and the prices shot up.

 

Then in an oasis of calm, came a new passion – old beer advertising trays! These again, combine the best of both worlds – metal and advertising. Some of these trays have fascinating history. I am particularly enamoured with the small water trays at the moment.

We now have so many trays we have had to put some on the ceiling of our home bar. I just love the idea of these trays in bustling pubs, some long gone along with the waiters who used them and the people they served.

A natural progression has now been made to Beermats (notice how the advertising medium is getting smaller and less expensive… and take up less space).

I shall be doing a series about these old beer/bar trays and brief histories of their breweries.

Thanks for images Stevello57

 

A bit of Ruff, a bit of smooth, good patches and a golden eggstravaganza

Posted in ART, ART HISTORY, DESIGN with tags , , , , , , , , , , on May 31, 2020 by echostains

I have  not featured any jewellery on Echostains for quite a while so I have been looking for something really unusual – something that can send me into flights of fancy.  I am writing this on the birthdate of the Faberge egg (29th May  1885 – 1917), the day the Faberge egg was ‘laid’.  The Faberge egg is instantly recognisable – sumptuous, bejewelled and opulent.  These eggs were  developed in Russia by  the House of Faberge (1885 – 1917) The miniature eggs were Easter gifts, that were given singly and  were sometime worn on a neck chain.

The Karelian egg

The larger more famous eggs (also known as the ‘Imperial’ eggs) were originally made for Alexander 111 and Nicholas 11 of Russia.  Only 50 of these eggs were made, and 42 have survived.

The Karelian and Constellation eggs, planned for 1918 were destined never to be delivered.  Nicholas 11 and his whole family died in an assasination that year and  the year before Nicholas had  abdicated.  The eggs themselves are gorgeous, opulent and seen as a symbol of luxury – jewellers masterpieces.  But it is not these little baubles which once hung from necklaces which caught my eye, but this strange face distorting jewelery by Burcu Buyukunal.   

My first question is ‘why?’  How does this enhance the face?  By  distorting her face, do we then notice how attractive the woman really is?  They say that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, different ‘looks’ have their admirers, as do fashion, design ect. Maybe one day ‘beauty’ will be played down to be the new beauty. It is this example which  reminded me of how Elizabethan ladies used to paint their faces white and how patches made of velvet were used on the face in the 18th century to disguise blemishes, make the face appear even whiter or draw attention to certain facial features depending on  where they were placed.

circa 1780 patch box

‘Her patches are of every cut,
For pimples and for scars;
Here’s all the wandering planets’ signs,
And some of the fixed stars.’

 In this very short video we see the owner of the painting ‘Une Dam a sa Toilette’ by French painter Francois Boucher (  1703 –  1770)  explain the delicate operation of patch application.  Boucher ‘s art is known for his  voluptuous and idyllic subject matter which is well suited to the Rococo style.  His patroness was  the famous Madame Pompadour, he painted many portraits of her.

There are also accessories which are used to glamourise. Whirls of cigarette smoke enveloping beautiful women in black and white movies  lend such mystique and intrigue to the silver screen. The actuality is rather different.  Cigarette Smoke permeates everything it touches, including, flesh, clothes and hair – there’s nothing mysterious about that, but I was quite tickled about this cigarette collar – though I think they missed a trick by not making it a prisoners or slave’s collar to emphasis the entrapment of the noxious weed. The ‘chain’ association is still there though, and there is something of the chain smoking beagle about this collar.  These types of collars are not new though – the actual shape of  the ruff collar goes back to the sixteenth century and were worn by men, women and children.  The pleats of the ruff was accomplished by the use of  cone-shaped goffering irons. which were heated.  Ruffs were made from a lot of material.  Elizabeth1 had a ruff of ‘ten yards for the neck and hand’.  During starching, ruffs could be coloured with vegetable dyes, though Elizabeth herself disapproved of the light blue colour;-

“Her Majesty’s pleasure is that no blue starch shall be used or worn by any of her Majesty’s subjects, since blue was the color of the flag of Scotland”

Stiff collars, smooth complextions, disguises used as enhancements – beauty will always be subjective and is indeed in the eye of the beholder.

 

Karelian egg image here

Lots of these beautiful eggs here

Distorting jewlery from here

Patchbox from here

Video by AndSper with thanks

Romanov Assassination information here

More about Boucher here

Smoking Dietrich from this article

Elizabeth1 image here

The verse and the source of a lot of delightful information about the history of the patch can be found in Chambers Book of Days

Picture this Poetry Challenge: Haiku ‘The Bedroom at Arles’ Vincent Van Gogh

Posted in ART, ART HISTORY, ART QUOTES, haiku, Picture this Haiku Poetry Challenge, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , on May 25, 2020 by echostains

Vincent Van Gogh painted three versions of this painting ‘The Bedroom at Arles’.  This is the third  version he painted in 1889.  He painted it whilst waiting for his mother to visit him in a Lunatic Asylum in  St Remy.  He was to commit suicide 10 months after this painting.  He called his chair ‘The Seat of happiness’ because the  colours symbolise sunshine, warmth and happiness.

the bedroom

” When I see my canvasses again, after my illness, The one that seemed the best was ‘The Bedroom’

 

The idea is to write a haiku about the painting and link to Echostains and Bookstains and  it shall appear here.  Here’s  mine;

Yellow sunlit chair

light up my starry night of rest

your colours soothe me.

L M Roberts 2020

Image from here