The Art of Alice through the Looking Glass

Sir John Tenniel
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.
Alice entering the looking glass world by Sir John Tenniel
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. 
Punch magazine William Gladstone and the irish land question
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.
Ralph Steadman 1972
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.
Mervyn Peake 1954
Ralph Steadman’s website HERE

Other Alice illustrator’s HERE

More Alice Posts;

Watched: Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland

A Collection of Time Travel experiences and ‘atmospheres’

The Vikings make their presence known

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 house in the Rock

the-house-in-the-rock-knaresborough-uk-bddyde

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).

House on the Strand

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.

18 Folgate Street

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.

Dennis Severs House, one of the period bedrooms

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!

more period drama

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:-

Thanks

History of House in the Rock

house in the Rock image

Jorvic Viking Centre

Denis Severs House

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 herehere and here

Jorvik Viking centre image  here

Google Doodles Do – Art

NEW POST ON BOOKSTAINS HERE

Google Doodles began in 1998 and were unanimated and unhyperlinked until 2010, when Sir Isaac Newton was honoured with the very first animation.

Over 2000 international and regional Doodles have appeared through its homepages, featuring artists, personalities, musicians etc and by 2019, over 4000 Doodles had been created for Google Doodles.

Interactive Doodles made their debut with the 1980s arcade game Pac-Man. Live action video doodles, interactive keyboard doodles, synthesiser doodles, interactive virtual Rubik cubes and games abound.

New Google Doodles are being engineered all the time, always topical always innovative.

On the 8th of December, 2011, Google commemorated Mexican artist Diego Rivera’s 125th birthday.  Rivera, who was also an active communist, painted political Murals that helped establish Mexico Mural Movement in the 1920s. He was also  the husband of fellow artist Frida Kahlo, also commemorated by a Google Doodle.

 It’s quite an honour for an artist to be celebrated by Google and there have been some very special and unusual logos in this series.  Though the art is computerised, the artist’s work is still easily identifiable. 

Notable artists who have been celebrated by Google including…. which speaks for itself.

On June 6, 2008, the logo incorporated details from Diego Velázquez’s masterpiece Las Meninas to celebrate the Spanish painter’s birthday (June 6, 1599 – August 6, 1660) here

In 2006, Edvard Munch (born December 12, 1863) was commemorated with a logo incorporating his most famous painting, The Scream here

Vincent Van Gogh received this tribute on his birthday in March 2005 with an immediately recognisable logo here

Please check out all the logos from the Google gallery    Here 

Warhol

Pac- man

Rivera

Kahlo

Velazquez

Van Gogh

Dali

Picasso

Something to crow about?

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

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 unique 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

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 “Bacon by Lighbulb”

Goodbye Dorothea Tanning. Gone But Not Forgotten.

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)

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