Archive for the HISTORY Category

The art of Confession. Read all about it – Exclusive! Did you make the bed?

Posted in ART, ART HISTORY, ART QUOTES, HISTORY with tags , , , on September 28, 2012 by echostains

We live in the times of the Confessional.  Privacy is not exclusive.  Well it sort of IS actually…. You can read these ‘exclusive’ stories every day in the newspapers.  It’s amazing how privacy flies out of the window when the price is right…

The act of the confessing is supposed to be between God and the confessor (using the Priest as a mediator or a conduit).  It seems that the act of confessing all has now become an art form, Tracey Emin is a living ambassador of the confessional art, (sometimes known as autobiographical).  In order for the confession to be of any interest to the average audience though, it has to have a shock factor, an air of secrecy and exclusivity, and that is where it falls down (when it loses its exclusivity, where it’s shared among the media and therefore becomes common knowledge.  That doesn’t stop people being interested in others dirty washing though!

Fly on the wall documentaries, and ‘reality’programmes like Big BrotherThe Osbournes   andI’m a Celebrity – get me out of here! now provide popular entertainment .  The confessional aspect of these shows requires starstruck voyeurs to really work. – and we have become a nation of voyeurs (or ‘observers’, as we like to call ourselves).  The Jeremy Kyle Show has even won an award for this abrasive style of interogation (though not much arm twisting is involved to get guests to ‘spill the beans’ or air their dirty washing)  A strange camera technique is used to throw the participant’s face into hideous relief showing up each blemish, wrinkle etc.  the victim is then shouted at , told to ‘grow a pair’ and sent off to a ‘good cop’ (Kyle is ‘Bad cop’) for ‘after care’

Perhaps these shows make us feel better about ourselves or maybe some of the issues they deal with (well, touch upon) actually do affect us, or we have experience of them?  There’s also the added bonus whilst watching these types of shows of the realisation that things could be a lot worse in our own world. I must add though that the reverse is true for me when I watch The Antiques Road Show and see all the personal stuff people have been left and are willing to part for a few quid.  Having never been left anything – and having no rich relatives so never likely to be left anything,  I do confess to a feeling of envy. 😦

The act of confessing is said to  have a cathartic effect: though sometimes the opposite can occur. The opening up of old wounds, the telling of secrets: especially when these ‘secrets’ hurt or effect others lives.

Many agree that the original founder of Confessional art is the French  American artist and sculptor Louise Bourgeois (b 1911 – 2010) . In this interview   (celebrating her 70th birthday and her Retrospective) she revealed  that  her sculptures are mostly self confessional, and that the materials used are personal and symbolic to her and represent parts of her personal life that she felt she needed to ‘explain’ or come to terms with.  There’s a great article about this here

Here’s some quotes by the great sculptress;-

I’m neither a preacher nor a teacher.”

“If the artwork is true, then it will communicate and have value to others.”

“Trust yourself. In your art you must tell your own story and if you tell your own story, you will be interesting.”

“My art is a form of psychoanalysis. I was able to exorcise my demons through art.”

Artist Tracey Emin’s  is  a story-teller.  Her art  is a dichotomy.  On the one hand, it is very self absorbed – all about herself and her experiences – yet it reaches out through its narrative and we become absorbed in it through the artist’s way of communication, which is very powerful.

Roberta Smith of The New Yorker says the following about Tracey’s work:

“If Tracey Emin could sing, she might be Judy Garland, a bundle of irresistible, pathetic, ferocious, self-indulgent, brilliant energy. Since she can’t, or doesn’t, she writes, incorporating autobiographical texts and statements into drawings, monoprints, watercolors, collages, quilts, neon sculptures, installations and videotapes. In her art she tells all, all the truths, both awful and wonderful, but mostly awful, about her life. Physical and psychic pain in the form of rejection, incest, rape, abortion and sex with strangers figure in this tale, as do love, passion and joy.”

The art of the confessional is here to stay – both in the art world and the media.  People will always want to read all about it in Heat magazine or biographys.  Anyone can do it – just make sure you get your story straight……. and don’t tell everything….. leave that for your next book.

Confessional box image from here

Town crier image – here

Louise Bourgeois  images from here and here

Bourgeois quotes from here and here

Roberta Smith interview quote from here

Jeremy Kyle image here

Emin tent image from here Neon sign image here

PLUS

Happy birthday Pablo Picasso

PS  There’s a brand new post over on my other blog BOOKSTAINS

Happy Birthday L S  Lowry! (1st November 1887)  I shall be writing a post about him

Legacies; Goodbye Helen Frankenhaler

Posted in ART, ART HISTORY, DESIGN, HISTORY, POETRY, SCULPTURE, WEIRD AND WACKY DESIGN with tags , , , , , , , , , on January 4, 2012 by echostains

On 27th December 2011, the death of New York Abstract Expressionist Helen Frankenhaler was announced (b 1928 Manhattan USA).  The artist was 83 years old when she died at her home in Darien Conn. Frankenhaler, influenced by Pollock poured thinned oil paint which was diluted with turpentine directly onto canvas to achieve lyrical use of colour (her ‘soak stain’ technique). This technique, which was adopted by Pollock, Morris Louis (1912–1962), and Kenneth Noland (1924–2010 )helped lead and paved the way for a newer generation of abstract painting which became known as Color Field painting. Like Pollock, Frankenhaler also worked on the floor  pouring diluted paint onto the canvas and allowing it to soak through to produce the illusionistic stains.

Mountain and Sky

Her work was included in the 1964 exhibition Post Painterly Abstraction, which was curated by the critic Clement Greenberg who promoted Abstract Expressionism.  Frankenhaler’s work has been exhibited over 6 decades (1950s onwards) and has had several retrospectives.  She is also one of the artists I originally referenced when I first conceived the Echostains project in 2002.  This year sees the 10th anniversary of my project which has just grown and grown!  More news of this later in the year.

Poetree

From Frankenhaler’s legacy to a rather curious and  anonymous ‘gift’ which caught my imagination. Last year in an Edinburgh library, a series of sculptures began to appear.  The first sculpture, placed on a table in the Scottish Poetry Library was most appropriately carved from paper, mounted on a book and bore a tag with the library’s Twitter account number on @byleaveswelive  This is what it said;-

It started with your name @byleaveswelive and became a tree.… … We know that a library is so much more than a building full of books… a book is so much more than pages full of words.… This is for you in support of libraries, books, words, ideas….. a gesture (poetic maybe?)

Next to the Poetree sat a paper egg with a scattering of words which when put together made up the sentence “A Trace of Wings’ by Edwin Morgan (see here) Despite local news coverage, no information has been found about the maker of the work.

more mystery

Then in June 2011, another paper sculpture was received, the donor this time chose The National Scottish Library as it’s recipient.  The sculpture is in the form of a gramophone and a coffin and is sculpted from a copy of Ian Rankin’s ‘Exit Music’  The tag reads;-

For @natlibscot – A gift in support of libraries, books, words, ideas….. (& against their exit)

In these days of Kindle  (smacks of Orwell’s 1984 to me) nothing beats the tactile thrill of holding, caressing, smelling, –  the physical page turning, the owning of and even the dog earing of  the physical object of a BOOK.   A physical object that holds so much of our dreams, imagination and is our portal to another world. It’s wonderful that these paper sculptures should pay homage to this – long may they keep popping up!

There are more of these sculptures

Helen Frankenhaler’s obituary here and here

Frankenhaler portrait  and more information about this artist  here

Sky and Sea by Helen Frankenhaler from here

Paper sculpture Poetree image  from here  and gramaphone sculpture from here with thanks!

Information and more images are available from this site with thanks!

Barbera Hepworth’s birthday (January 10th)  read my post about her here

PLUS

Its back! The original and eclectic Bookstains!

Pre Raphaelite Delights that last longer than 15 minutes with Lashings of Ginger Beer,

Posted in ART, ART HISTORY, BOOKS! DEAR READER I READ IT, DESIGN, exhibitions, HISTORY, LIVING IN THE PAST: NOSTALGIA with tags , , , , , , , , , on August 12, 2011 by echostains

It’s been ages since I last posted (the longest yet) but I hope to make amends today by writing a longer post – a kind of round-up of posts I should have written.

Enid Blyton

The 11th August was popular children’s writer Enid Blyton’s birthday (11 August 1897 – 28 November 1968).  Here’s a  a link to another post I wrote about this author over on my Bookstains.  Eileen A Soper illustrated every one of 21   Famous Five books. 

five-have-a-wonderful-time

Eileen A Soper (b. 1905 – 1990 Hertfordshire UK)was an illustrator , print maker and a watercolourist.  She had her first exhibition at the Royal Academy in 1921 at the age of 15, making her the youngest artist ever to exhibit.  Two of her etchings were bought by Queen Mary. 

 

 

 

Her work has great nostalgic appeal and is as attractive today to adults as it was a source of delight to them when they were  children.  A gallery of this artist’s work can be found here

 

 

 

 

 

Eileen Sitting in a chair watercolour 1923

Other artists birthdays include Andy Warhol whose birthday I celebrated a while back with this post which featured one a page of my altered book  (this book is still ongoing… complete with artist research)

Andy Warhol-Self-Portrait-1986

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Work by Ford Madox Brown

News of an exciting exhibition is coming to Manchester City Gallery (Saturday 24 September 2011 – Sunday 29 January 2012)  A major exhibition of Pre Raphaelite artist Ford Maddox Brown will go on show.  Over 140 paintings by the artist, including his Manchester Town Hall murals (which I have seen) will be exhibited.  The work will be divided into different themes and periods of  the artist’s life including his radical change of direction artistically.  Ford Madox Brown is particularly well-known for his narrative paintings which relate to life in the Victorian age and I think that viewing the paintings collectively will  give the viewer a clearer idea of how radical the Pre Raphaelites really were.  The 12 paintings, known as The Manchester murals depict life in the city in the Victorian age – a must for any Mancunian interested in their city.  The exhibition which will also include a rediscovered painting by the artist.  The painting The Seraph’s Watch  could prove to be a crowd puller.  Here’s a tantalising detail from it below.

Eileen A Soper Gallery (images from there)

Heather’s Blyton pages (all the book images can be found here too)

Manchester City Art Gallery 

The Enid Blyton Society

Andy Warhol image and art history here

More about Ford Madox Brown (and Work image) here

Seraph’s Watch image and an interesting article about this exhibition and Victorian art in general here

Stone Hats and a Shoe Tree

Posted in HISTORY, PAST PLACES with tags , , , , , on January 23, 2011 by echostains

shoe tree

A tree displaying shoes in Nevada gives a whole new meaning to the term ‘shoe tree’ (a device for preserving the shape of the shoe).  These instruments are also made from wood – but there the similarity ends.  What intrigues me about all these shoes is how they have managed to display them all, securing them into what looks like a very tall tree.  Were they all done by the same person or individuals?  Are there any pairs of shoes in there – or are they all odd?

odd or paired?

It’s strange to think of all these shoes baking away in Nevada in the summer and frozen in the winter,  though no stranger than the shoes or other objects preserved by water at famous prophetess Mother Shipton ‘s petrifying well in Knaresborough Yorkshire

the Hanging Well

This is one of England’s  oldest visiting attraction (1630). The magical qualities of the water preserve by petrification the objects (including shoes) which are displayed.

Mother Shipton (Ursula Southill) herself was said to have been born in a nearby cave and prophesied many happenings.  Her prophesies took the form of poems, but there is still some debate about her authorship.

Mother Shipton's cave, said to be her birthplace

 The Hanging well (as it is known locally) still displays two petrified hats – a bonnet and a top hat which were left by a couple on their way to York races in 1854.  I have visited Knaresborough a few times.  It is a delightful and picturesque historical market town and dates from around Norman times.  Among the attractions is The House in the Rock (which we went into many years ago).  Next door to that is a chapel that dates from the Middle ages also set into the rock.  I have photographs, of the hanging well, Mother Shipton’s cave and from inside House in the Rock.  I shall do another post about House in the Rock when I find my pictures 🙂

Info from here

images from here   and here  and also here   Mother Shpton’s own website  Thanks also to this site  for the shoe tree images

The Wonderful Myth

Posted in ART, ART HISTORY, HISTORY with tags , , , , , on November 25, 2010 by echostains

I’ve just come across this video about the ever popular Pre-Raphaelite painters.  Some of the artists, I am not familiar with – Edward Roberts Hughes and Charles Lock Eastlake are two of them.  But the video is just the thing to transport the spirit into another age (Victorian)- then into  yet another age (the ancient world of myth).  It just goes to show that a good story never dies and shall always linger on in our collective romantic memory:-)   The video is rather long and the music is by Vengellis (not a fan) but the paintings both recognised and unfamiliar are a veritable feast for the eyes 🙂

The video is by gilcarosio – thanks!

PS Things are hotting up over at my other blog Bookstains!  More poems have been added to the Dickens challenge:-)

Just click Charles to have a look – and perhaps join in:-)

Past Pleasures rediscovered

Posted in ART, ART HISTORY, BOOKS! DEAR READER I READ IT, HISTORY, LIVING IN THE PAST: NOSTALGIA with tags , , , on July 6, 2010 by echostains
 
a much loved book

I came across my old copy of ‘A Country Diary of an Edwardian Lady’ the other day.  I was supposed to be sorting through some things, but as usual, when it comes to having a clear out, I always come across something that makes me stop to re read it, transporting my memories – and well, – that’s the end of that exertion for the day:)

Edith Holden

I had forgotten just  how charming this book is.  Edith Blackwell Holden (the Edwardian lady) was born into a very different age from ours (1871 – 1920).  She was an art teacher and her nature notes were published in 1906.   She was also an artist in her own right, a follower of the Arts and Crafts movement.  She married  sculptor Ernest Smith in 1911 and taught in Solihull.

another time

Her exquisite drawings feature nature, flor and animals and her notes are taken from direct observation.   Holden also illustrated children’s books.  I love looking at this bygone book, which tells of a more sedate time. 

exquisite water colour

A short bibliography of Edith Holden here and here

some gorgeous images of her work from this site  and here

 

Lancaster legends, lunatic chairs and witches

Posted in HISTORY, Lancaster, PAST PLACES with tags , , , , , on July 4, 2010 by echostains

Lancaster castle John O Gaunt gateway

In our relentless quest to travel further and further into the world, we often forget places which are relatively nearest to us.  Lancaster, for example is  only an hour or so drive away from us, yet until recently we had never been there.  Lancaster is the county town of Lancashire, famous for the Pendle Witch trials of 1612 where  9 women and two men were tried at Lancaster Assizes, 10 were found guilty and were hung.

Lancaster Museum

The town itself is a very busy place, the river Lune runs through it, colourful barges and delightful pubs and restaurants abound.  The Museum has a marvellous collection that ranges from early civilisation up to the present day.   I really like the way the collections are displayed and grouped, going back through time.  There are lots of artifacts that have been found in Lancaster.  The most fascinating one, I thought, was a body that had been found under a car park  (I think) in the centre.  The coffin was hollowed out of a tree and the body wrapped up in a cloth shroud.  But all that remained of the body was the fingernails and toenails!  Of course you weren’t allowed to take pictures in the museum, which was a shame because there were some wonderful artifacts.

Lancaster Prison

Lancaster castle is a big black imposing place – there’s nothing romantic about it  Having gone up to the entrance (John of Gaunt’s gateway) we were a bit disconcerted to find that this entrance was actually the doorway to a working prison and we were queueing up with relatives of the prisoners…..  Apparently this is a common mistake.

Having found the right entrance we were shown around by a the castle’s archivist Eric Wilkinson whose knowledge of the castle’s history and the informative and highly entertaining way he made the castles history come alive, made the hour-long tour go by only too quickly.   It was easy to forget that part of the castle is in fact a prison and that the Crown court still sees a lot of action, it’s  done so for over 200 years.  The walls in the court are covered in heraldic shields of all the counties of Lancashire and ornate carving provides an impressive backdrop to this historical room.

lunatic chair

I got to sit in a ‘Lunatic chair’.  It is a restraining chair that was used to confine ‘awkward’ prisoners.  the more they struggled, the more the leather straps self tightened.  Luckily for me, the chair was strapless when I sat in it 🙂

We were also incarcerated in a tiny dungeon, the door was locked and the light turned out.  To say it was creepy would be an understatement…..  of course yet again we weren’t allowed to take pictures in the prison (security risk).  

HANGING CORNER

 But outside we took some of ‘Hanging Corner’.  This little place is where a lot of hangings took place.  Standing on the car park where the prisoners bodies were buried in quicklime, facing the church on a sunny day, a slight chill was felt. 

 Castle tour (lunatic chair and scolds bridle and inside pics of the castle here)

Castle John O Gaunt gateway here and prison sign here

About Lancaster here