I thought that I would test the new ‘story’ facility on WordPress with this tryout on William Morris’s birthday. It works well. What I’d like to know is: if the story should be published first and – then writing added on (like I’m doing here) OR do the story and save, add to the written piece- then publish 🤔? No doubt I shall find out. Liking it so far. A good way of updating and promoting your blog.
Too much has already been written about British Textile designer William Morris. He was a huge influencer and contributor for the revival of the British textile arts, and also its traditional production methods. A social innovator, activist, poet and supporter of the Arts and Crafts movement, Morris is considered as a significant social cultural figure in Britain.
Today is the birthday of Spanish artist Jose Victoriano (Carmelo Carlos) Gonzalez-Perez (known as Juan Gris). He was born in Madrid 1887-1927) but his career was based in France where he mostly lived. His work is mostly associated with the Cubist movement, but he started out as a sartorial cartoonist before developing his own distinctive Cubist style.
Gris’s contemporaries were Matisse, Picasso and Braque, amongst other famous artists. He approached cubism in a style he called Analytical Cubism, but become converted to Synthetic Cubism in which he incorporated collage.
He painted in bright colours, unlike Braque and Picasso whose work at that time was mostly monochromatic. In her book The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas Gertrude Stein wrote ‘Although Gris regarded Picasso as a teacher , Juan Gris was the only artist who Picasso wished away’. Gris is an interesting artist. More can be found about his life and work here-
“I used to live in a room full of mirrors All I could see was me Then I take my spirit and I smash my mirrors And now the whole world is here for me to see”
It seems that we have always lived in a room full of mirrors. Our fascination with our own reflection has never diminished and seems to burn brighter by the day.
We gaze Narcissus like into our Iphones pouting, posing and taking selfies of ourselves, and if we don’t like the reality, then we can always change it by airbrushing our image, de wrinkling, whitening our teeth etc or even magically transforming ourselves into little fluffy pink rabbits with floppy ears and pink twitching noses if we so wish.
Are we in danger of the ‘myth’ of Narcissus becoming our reality? Or we all just destined to fade to grey, never to become one of those shining golden daffoldils?
Narcissus, the Greek hunter, reknown for his beauty, unfortunately he only had eyes for himself. One day Echo, a young nymph, pursued him through the woods. Realising he was being followed, Narcissus called out “who is there?” But the nymph just echoed his question back. When she eventually made herself known, Narcissus snubbed her. Poor Echo spent the rest of her life heartbroken, fading to only an echo.
Nemesis, the Goddess of revenge wasn’t very happy with Narcissus’s treatment of Echo, so she lured him to a pool where he fell deeply in love with his own reflection (I dont think that he took much persuasion). Alas, such was his passion for himself, he eventually burnt himself out, dying of unrequited love until at last, he too faded away – this time into a flower. A pretty flower of course.
There are variations of this myth. Pre Raphaelite John William Waterhouse (1847-1917) painted a lot of paintings with classical themes – ‘Echo and Narcissus’ being an especially wonderful example.
The lady in question, confined to her room by a curse, was not allowed outside and could only view the world through a mirror. Yearning for love, through her mirror she caught sight of of the knight Lancelot. She took three steps towards the window – the mirror cracked. Realising the curse had befallen her, she sailed away to Camelot and lonely death singing a lamentable lament.
And down the river’s dim expanse
Like some bold seer in a trance, Seeing all his own mischance With glassy countenance Did she look to Camelot. And at the closing of the day She loosed the chain, and down she lay; The broad stream bore her far away, The Lady of Shallot.
Note: This is a W.A.R. Post. What is it good for? ….Worth Another Blog)
They say women are vain – but when it comes to artists it seems that men never get tired of looking at their own reflection – and painting them. Van Gogh was one of the most prolific self-portrait artists, (and one of the most least artists) as was Rembrandt and Picasso. It is interesting to look at the way age creeps into these self portraits, and is also a tribute to some of the artists lack of vanity and pursuit for truth that makes the ageing process unflattering in some cases.
This gentle film takes a look at some famous self-portrait painters. Some like Rembrandt chronicled his age throughout life, some stop short at youth. Here is part of a list of the artists featured, the rest are here. See how many you can recognise.
Artists in order of appearance: 0:08 – Leonardo da Vinci 1452-1519 0:15 – Francisco Goya 1746-1828 0:22 – Albrecht Dürer 1471-1528 0:29 – Sir Joshua Reynolds 1723-1792 0:35 – Rembrandt 1606-1669 0:42 – Andy Warhol 1928-1987 0:48 – William-Adolphe Bouguereau 1825-1905 0:55 – Henri Matisse 1869-1954 1:02 – Eugène Delacroix 1798-1863 1:09 – Jean-François Millet 1814-1875 1:15 – Jan van Eyck 1395-1441 1:22 – Peter Paul Rubens 1577-1640 1:28 – James McNeill Whistler 1834-1903 1:35 – John Singer Sargent 1856-1925 1:42 – Kazimir Malevich 1878-1935 1:49 – Nicolas Poussin 1594-1665
Video and list from eggman913 and info from by Philip Scott Johnson
Though known mainly for her portraiture – a lot were in the National Gallery where she became the first artist in residence in 1980 and did a series of portraits of the comedienne Max Wall.
She has also created sculpture including : Memorial to Oscar Wilde London and Scallop, an interlocking steel sculpture on Alderburgh beach, dedicated to the composer Benjamin Britten The sculpture itself was made by a local foundry and copied from a 4 inch model supplied by the artist. The sculpture has created a lot of controversy – some say it enhances the view of the sea, others say it blocks the sea out. The sculpture has been vandalised a few times too. Hambling herself calls it a conversation piece – a conversation with the sea;-
“An important part of my concept is that at the centre of the sculpture, where the sound of the waves and the winds are focused, a visitor may sit and contemplate the mysterious power of the sea,”
Hambling’s subjects include a lot of Gay people including George Melly, Stephen Fry and Quentin Crisp.
From the 1980s Hambling turned mainly to landscapes and recently seascapes. Her work has become a lot more abstract and in 1995 she received an OBE for her services to painting and appointed a CBE in the new years Honours list in 2010.
Today is the birthday of ceramicist artist Clarice Cliff (b. 1899 Tunstall, Stoke on Trent -1972). Her family came from a long line of potters. Cliff followed in their footprints but went on to became famous for her unique stylised patterns which became very popular during the Late 20s -40s , encapsulating the spirit of the age.
Starting work as a 13 years old gilder in the Potteries,Cliff then moved on to work in A.J. Wilkinsons pottery factory in 1916. In 1924 she was given another apprenticeship, and acquired a large range of skills. When she was given her own studio in 1927, her career really took off. In 1928 she designed a range of brightly coloured geometric patterned tableware called ‘Bizarre’.
The ‘Bizarre’ range was closely followed by the massively popular ‘Crocus’ design, which was entirely hand painted with upward brushstrokes depicting each flower. This pattern is said to be her signature. The design became so popular, that owing to demand, Cliff had to employ a large team (mostly of women) to hand paint the design Art Deco style was to prove so popular that Cliff and her team were producing colourful tableware that was both cheerful and affordable in the recession of the late 1920s. In 1940 Cliff married Colley Shorter (her then boss). Following his death in 1963, Cliff sold the factory to Midwinters and retired to Chetwynd House, Staffordshire. She died in 1972 but is still much celebrated to this day, her designs much admired and now very collectable.
Much has been written about Clarice Cliff’s life and there are some very informative links below for a more in depth look at this very individual, innovative ceramicist artist.
I love the illustrations of Alice in Wonderland and Alice’s adventures through the looking Glass. The original Tenniel ones have a charm all of their own and are the ones I remember the most from childhood. There is such a lot of information contained in these small drawings and Sir John Tenniel’s style once seen, is unmistakable.
Tenniel also illustrated for Punch magazine for a while and did some political sketches like the example below. Amazingly this fine illustrator was blind in one eye.
Another illustrator that I quite like is Ralph Steadman (b. Wallasey 196O). Of course these two artists are from different era’s, but I quite like the clear lines of Steadman’s work, it’s so very stylish. He has tried to add something new to these well-loved characters – yet he has still made them recognisable.
There is yet another Alice illustrator that I like – one of my favourite authors and who I am re reading at the moment, and that’s Mervyn Peake (b. China 1911-1968). It’s interesting to see the styles of these artists, and how they differ in their original approach to the same subject matter though each working in different eras.
I have always had a yearning to travel back in time. I’ve had four of these experiences – well not actually going back in time, but pretty near. The first one was years ago at the Jorvic Viking centre in York, where you travel in a car backwards in time and come out into a recreated Viking village, complete with all the sounds, sights and even the smells (including urine). This has now changed and there is a different way to travel now, which I find disappointing – they should have left the experience alone in my opinion.
The second one was also in Yorkshire. It was in a place called ‘House in the Rock’ in Knaresborough. The owner Miss Nancy Buckle’s ancestor carved this house into rock in 1770 and generation after generation have lived in it. Now that was like stepping back in time! At the time we were shown around, the National Trust were doing their utmost to get their hands on the house clean it up a bit and probably take the character away from what was/is a family home. The place had a charm all of its own and I still can’t seem to find out if the Trust managed to get it. (I have since found out via the link since this post was originally written, that the owner was forced to vacate to enable renovations. I have no information about what happened to it since).
The third time I went back in time was when I read Daphne Du Maurier’s ‘House on the Strand’. This is a strange book even for Du Maurier. In brief: a man rents a remote house in Cornwall (of course) and agrees to be the guinea pig for a drug his biochemist friend has invented. With its aid he goes back in time to the 14th Century where he has lots of adventures. But each time he comes back reality blurs between the two worlds…. the book has intrigue and a very strange ending.
The fourth time that I climbed into that time machine was last week when we visited Dennis Severs house, Folgate Street, Spitalfields, London. I have always wanted to go to this house for years and have never quite got around to it – until last week. We made an appointment and just went. Dennis Severs, an American artist (b. 1948 -1999). Severs moved to London and bought the run down house in 1979. Folgate Street is very close to the Spitalfields market and at the time of purchase the area was more run down than it is now but attracting Bohemians and artists.
Severs renovated and decorated each of the 10 rooms in a different historical style, mostly from the 18th and 19th century creating ‘atmospheres’ and vignettes. He did this on a budget of £500! I first encountered this man, years ago in a Period Living magazine and was flabbergasted at how clever, innovative and resourceful he was and longed to see his house. Though he lived there himself, Severs invented an imaginary family to people his house, and he based this family upon the Huguenot silk weavers who would have lived in the area at that time. He called them the Jarvis family – and they are still alive in the house. Whenever you enter a room you feel they have been there before you and just left, leaving clues like a half eaten piece of buttered toast and an upset teacup behind them. the rooms are like living paintings. in fact one room is actually based on a Hogarth painting!
The house is crammed full of Sever’s collections of memorabilia, plus china, vintage clothing, ephemera. But these are not dry museum type collections, these ‘props’ are scattered everywhere, as if it’s been casually left that way, nothing is ‘posed’. Clay pipes lay broken in a fireplace, valentines are wedged into the frames of mirrors, cobwebs hang from the torn and damp velvet four-poster hangings in the poorest room in the house – the attic, where no fire burns. To get a better idea of the experience (though I urge you to go if you possibly can) Here is a short video starring the house – and the late Dennis Severs himself:-
Read all about Thomas Hill, a linen weaver who built the House in the Rock by his great great grand-daughter Nancy Buckle here. We have quite a few pics of this house somewhere which I shall have to find. This pic came from here though
Dennis Severs House website recommended and read what people who have visited say here Severs video from here
Unfortunately we were not allowed photographs in the house, so these images come from here, here and here