Archive for April, 2010

Hiawatha sings

Posted in ART, POETRY with tags , , on April 23, 2010 by echostains

hiawatha book

I used to love the poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and used be able to recite some of it.   Quite by accident I was reminded again of it after stumbling upon Mike Oldfields Incantations album (1978).  There is a wonderful track that uses part of this poem, sung  by Maddy Prior, whose voice  soars and swoops.  I’m unsure why the maker has used Van Gogh’s last painting as a focus…. but the music is wonderfully inspiring!

Death-Of-Minnehaha William de Leftwich Dodge 1892

Here’s the first part of this lengthy poem.  Hard to believe it was written in 1855!

Hiawatha’s Departure
from The Song of Hiawatha

By the shore of Gitchie Gumee, 
By the shining Big-Sea-Water, 
At the doorway of his wigwam, 
In the pleasant Summer morning, 
Hiawatha stood and waited. 
All the air was full of freshness, 
All the earth was bright and joyous, 
And before him through the sunshine, 
Westward toward the neighboring forest 
Passed in golden swarms the Ahmo, 
Passed the bees, the honey-makers, 
Burning, singing in the sunshine. 
Bright above him shown the heavens, 
Level spread the lake before him; 
From its bosom leaped the sturgeon, 
Aparkling, flashing in the sunshine; 
On its margin the great forest 
Stood reflected in the water, 
Every tree-top had its shadow, 
Motionless beneath the water. 
From the brow of Hiawatha 
Gone was every trace of sorrow, 
As the fog from off the water, 
And the mist from off the meadow. 
With a smile of joy and triumph, 
With a look of exultation, 
As of one who in a vision 
Sees what is to be, but is not, 
Stood and waited Hiawatha. 
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow


To read it in full here

Hiawatha book cover link


Behind the paint ‘Susanna and the Elders’ by Artemisia Gentileschi

Posted in ART, ART HISTORY, BEHIND THE PAINT with tags , , on April 22, 2010 by echostains

Artemisia Gentileschi self portrait

It’s about time we had a woman painter in the ‘Behind the Paint’ category – and who better than Atremisia Gentileschi the daughter of Orazio Gentileschi (1563 – 1639) an Italian Baroque painter, very much influenced by Caravaggio.  He was  quite an important painter at the time and admired.   Orazio Gentileschi went to Paris where he appeared at the Medici court and remained in London from 1626 until the rest of his life working for Charles 1.  He died there in 1639.

St Francis and the Angel by Orazio Gentileschi

Artemisia Gentilileschi (1593 – 1652) was a very talented painter.  She created powerful and very expressive work.  She had a turbulent life and drew upon this for her inspiration and probably for the cathartic benefits.  She was only 19 when she was raped in her home by her father’s friend Agostino Tassi (c.1580 – 1644) and had to undergo further torture of the legal proceedings which followed.

She won the case and despite this setback she became one of the greatest painters of her day.  A native Roman, she left for Florence where she married a minor Florentine artist Pietro Stiattesi.  She became the first female member of the Florentine Accademia del Disegno and had a lot of support from the Medici family.

17th century Medici family

The painting ‘Susanna and The Elders’ is the artist’s earliest signed painting and was painted before her own traumatic experience.  Susanna, the biblical heroine, owing to a false testimony was destined to die, but was saved by Daniel’s timely intervention.

Susanna and the Elders

Susanna is at her bath when  the two Elders accost her, threatening her with false accusations of adultery if she doesn’t agree to their wishes.  Adultery was punishable by death.  In the artist’s own case, Artemisia claimed that her own attacker conspired with a papal orderly, and just like Susanna, she was  publically accused of adultery.

susanna crouches in fear and repulsion

The isolated figure crouches whilst the two Elders threaten.  her head is turned in disgust and fear.   The woman is cornered and victimized.  She is threatened with slander if she does not give into the wishes of these men.

Michelangelo's expulsion

Michelangelo ‘ Adam in the Expulsion scene in the Sistine Chapel is the reversal of Susanna’s dramatic gesture.

susanna and the elders detail

Artemisia borrowed the technique of foreshortening from Caravaggio, seen clearly on the dark-haired elder.

Although Artemisia’s work show her teachers influence (her father) her work grows more and more expressive and dramatic, whilst her father’s stays very graceful and even lyrical.

Great website with lots of paintings here

Nice website about this artist and lots of her work here

A wonderful short biography of the artist here

Weird and Wacky: cool cruets

Posted in DESIGN, WEIRD AND WACKY DESIGN with tags , , on April 21, 2010 by echostains


strange ant cruet set

I used to collect cruets.  I had some shaped like fruit, peppers even bags of flour.  Cruets have got a lot more innovative and adventurous since I started collecting.  These ant ones can be used on a picnic.  Somehow, I don’t think the real ants would come anywhere near if these saw these giants  ant watchdogs 🙂

This unusual ring from Chao & Eero Jewel is known as a Spiced lady ring.  Not only is it a piece of jewelry, it can hold spices or salt, pepper to be added to food as you cook.  There’s a touch of the Lucrezia Borgia about this I think.  What fun though 🙂

ever ready cruet set

These ‘batteries’ are also a  cruet set.  They are known as Salt and Pepper Cell and are exactly like a D size  battery  in dimension.  They are made of stainless steel and glass with power indicators on the side  tell you about how much spice you have left before its time to refill.  Available in Red and Turquoise and Black and White.  Different!

The ant cruet from here (and others)

The spiced lady ring link is here

Battery cruet link here

Art I LOVE – Guiseppe Arcimboldo

Posted in ART, ART HISTORY, FAVORITE ART: Art I LOVE with tags , , on April 20, 2010 by echostains


I’m afraid that I’ve rather neglected this category for a while.  I don’t know why – when I love so many types of art.   Please bear in mind that in order to write every day and in depth is a full time job.  Its not mine unfortuntely, so everything I do is rather brief and I’m only too well aware of this.  Arcimboldo is an artist  I loved quite a long time ago and still do.  I have still got his Four Seasons  in poster size which I bought years ago and framed.


Giuseppe Arcimboldo (1527 – 1593 Milan Italy).  I was fascinated by this artist.  His work has a fun quality but it’s also very clever.  The Surrealists loved Acimboldo’s subject matter, – the way he played with unusual visuals  and it’s easy to see why.  Some have thought his work bizarre and very whimsical.  But Renascence  people of his time were intrigued by tricks and puzzles, so in that sense he was catering for modern tastes.


Arcimboldo was not only innovative, ‘trendy’ and clever, he could also turn his hand to designing costumes for Court, a large tapestry  design for the cathedral in Como, which is still there today.  He also designed stained glass.


He was a court painter to Ferdinand 11 and later went on to Prague to paint for Maximilian 11 and later his son Rudolf 11. It must have been very difficult to get a likeness using fruit as your palette.  But he must have got it right because he did survive to paint religious and traditional subjects too. He is most famous for his portraits using fruit, vegetables, fish, flowers among others objects. though.

Rudolf 11

Lots more of his work here 

Sculpture in the sands

Posted in ART, DESIGN, SCULPTURE with tags , , on April 19, 2010 by echostains

A very short post tonight or I shall never get this out on time.  I’ts a little video I found featuring more sand sculpture.  this time its a time lapse sand sculpture by artist Ballabh Mohapatra from Orrisa on Juhu Beach Mumbai  he makes it all seem so easy – but of course it isn’t.  I’m a bit worried about the tide in the background…..

Discovered and uncovered – the invisible artist Lui Bolin

Posted in ART, ART DISCOVERED AND UNCOVERED with tags , , on April 18, 2010 by echostains

Lui Bolin is the invisible man

I came across this innovative artist.   He’s called Liu Bolin – also known as the invisible man.  Bolin born Shandong, China feels so at home in camouflage that he soon becomes part of the scenery……

now you see him - then you don't

The talented Bolin says that his art is a protest against the government closing down his studio in 2005.  He insists that his art is political and that its about not fitting into society.

Bolin spends hours getting ready so he can disappear before his publics’ eyes.  This short video shows the artist being painted to fit into a temple backdrop.  I am most impressed with what he does 🙂  – truly amazing!  In the picture below, it took me quite a while to spot him!

can you spot him?

Bolin feels like his artistry isn’t always valued in his own country.  His art is a statement about not fitting into society.  Using himself as his own canvas he can stand for hours before anyone spots him.  His art can also be classed as performance art.  There is a good interview here about this amazing  artist and his work.

as part of a London phone booth

More pictures of his work here

yet more here

Some  more images here

Whatif the whatifs come true?

Posted in POETRY with tags , , on April 17, 2010 by echostains

Shel Silverstein

I came across this poem again the other day by Shel Silverman. It reminded me what a talented man he was.  Silverman (b. 1932 -1999 America) was not only a poet, he was a screenwrtiter, illustrator of childrens books, musician, cartoonist and singer songwriter.  ‘Sylvia’s Mother’ a hit for Dr Hook was written by him and he wrote many more songs.

  Life is full of whatifs isn’t it.  It’s begins as a niggling doubt, blown out of all proportion, a constant drip drip drip, then it gains momentum as you get older.  As you look back on those childhood whatifs (that usually amounted to nothing) you becomeonly too aware  of more serious situations that really can affect your life, like accidents, illness and  bereavement.  

Whatif by Shel Silverstein


Last night, while I lay thinking here,
some Whatifs crawled inside my ear
and pranced and partied all night long
and sang their same old Whatif song:
Whatif I’m dumb in school?
Whatif they’ve closed the swimming pool?
Whatif I get beat up?
Whatif there’s poison in my cup?
Whatif I start to cry?
Whatif I get sick and die?
Whatif I flunk that test?
Whatif green hair grows on my chest?
Whatif nobody likes me?
Whatif a bolt of lightning strikes me?
Whatif I don’t grow talle?
Whatif my head starts getting smaller?
Whatif the fish won’t bite?
Whatif the wind tears up my kite?
Whatif they start a war?
Whatif my parents get divorced?
Whatif the bus is late?
Whatif my teeth don’t grow in straight?
Whatif I tear my pants?
Whatif I never learn to dance?
Everything seems well, and then
the nighttime Whatifs strike again!

 I’ve gone through these whatifs.  There are 20 mentioned.  I was a bit disconcerted to realise that 9 of those had happened to me!  I’m still here to tell the tale though 🙂


Lots of information about Shel Silverstein here