Community spirit, photographs from Coventry, including the recent MAD UK event.
Found this blog today & its stunning!!!! A MUST watch 🙂
Creating Fairy Tale images (see picture to left) has become more than a wandering obsession for me, which I’m sure any good story lover can understand. But, the most important thing is getting a great location…& there are hundreds…no thousands…of these gems dotted throughout the known universe. I could diversify & praise the simple dwelling place of the humble bedroom for its many ’emergency’ shooting backdrops, as I’m sure you’re aware that the more pushed for ideas/space/props etc we are, the more creative we have to be!
But leading on from this, I cannot help but sing the praises of buildings, gardens & woodlands that make life worth living…& our work as artists & photographers a damn site easier! So I shall begin with a little known & well kept secret called St. Mary’s Guildhall, built in 1340. Located in the centre of Coventry, England, its medieval splendour is in complete contrast to the rest of the concrete & glass gall that surrounds it…& the minute you enter this wondrous building, the serenity, calm & subtle creepiness will transport you immediately in time to wherever your imagination chooses to wander.
I have been presently working on a relaxed photographic art study of La Belle Dame Sans Merci a la Frank Cadogan Cowper & was delighted to return to this fabulous place to start work on this piece. (See La Belle Dame post for more info) ….Anyway, enough of those ramblings I shall continue with a potted history of this magnificent building.
More than 650 years of stories, adventure, death & intrigue are hidden in the walls here. Soon after it was built it became the adopted headquarters for the city’s mayor & other leaders, and it was still used by Coventrys council until the new Council house was built in the 1930’s. During the War of the Roses, it served as King Henry VI’s court & was used as a temporary prison for Mary, Queen of Scots. The letter sent by Queen Elizabeth I to the People of Coventry, requesting that Mary be kept here until further notice, still exists & is housed here.
William Shakespeare also staged his plays here & the writer George Eliot mentions the Guildhall in her book ‘Adam Bede’. She would have been more than familiar with the surrounding area as the fourth school she attended ‘Nant Glynn’ was at 29, Warwick Row, just a stones throw away!
Well, its getting late & my eyeballs have wilted in their sockets, but I shall be back with a continuing history & a little bit of ghostly photographic evidence for you to scrutinise over the next few weeks….I hope you enjoyed this preamble & I look forward to returning to finish 🙂
Outside our doors the world is full of amazing signs, symbols & coincidental artworks!!! These beautiful gems that seem to either hide in bus shelters, leap out at you from unique window displays or be emblazoned boldly for the world to see on a graffittied wall, make the world a better place!
So in the knowledge of this, I’ve popped up in this space to share these fabulous ‘found’ messages of positivity, synchronicity, inspiration & creativity. Aswell as too tip my hat to those fabulous ‘unknown’ artists out there who scurry around when none of us are looking to deliver these secret wonders to the world! So here’s a big ‘ Thankyou!’ ….. and here we go…may they make your day a happy one!
This little beauty was found in Brighton on the bottom of a shop front…these delightful stickers are dotted all over the place and as you can see, say quite simply ” If you see this girl, tell her I love her & that dreams are fragile” …
Leaves you a bit speechless!
Here’s one I found on a walk around a park in Coventry! Couldn’t fault this quote…its simply fantastic!
Mel Odom is one artist definately worth mentioning. A modern day master of Art Nouveau who manages to blend perversity with innocence & from it, produces something beautiful. I can highly recommend getting your hands on his stunning book ‘Dreamers’, which offers a tantalizing glimpse into his illustrations, masks, dolls & drawings.
Fantasies & whims are of the essence here, & he explores classic ‘symbols’ in art such as, angels & hermaphrodites with a zeal which will have you hungering for more. Timeless in their beauty & essence, I would probably wallpaper my entire bedroom with his work if I could afford it!
One thing that must be mentioned is the eyes of the characters he paints….oh THOSE eyes…liquid, seductive & phatasmic in their might! He inspired an 11 yr old me to put pen to paper! I could never escape the fabulous urge to recreate those magnetic orbs, usually depicted in a haunting liquid grey…but never quite grasped it. They truly are unique to the man himself, & I believe he has done for eyes what Georgia O’Keefe did for her detailed erotic flowers!
He is proudly symbolic of the often stunning world of ‘art with gay sensibilities’. The style which he developed epitomizes the 1980’s in the same way that Aubrey Beardsley epitomizes the 1890’s, & in their way they have a similar atmosphere – fairy tale milieu, snaking sensuous line work & ideals of recherche pleasure! However, unlike Beardsley, Odom has the enjoyable freedom of producing work in a social era where Gay liberation has been on the lips of most appreciative audiences.
Mel Odoms mask work, whether the hand painted models or the illustrated works of art, are something to behold! Wandering blissfully between creating mask-like faces & face like masks, Odom breathes poetry into these strongly symbolic props. From the classic cliche of cracked faces to eyes that radiate pure beams of light. He does so in such a way as to avoid & overide the cliched mode & creates something hauntingly strong! I would strongly advise viewing them.
I feel that today, illustration is being recognised & appreciated in the world of apparent ‘Real Art’ & its about time too! I will forever fight the corner of illustrator v. artist & its blurry lines, especially in todays current scene. My personal feelings are that since Duchamps ‘Fountain’ one can but grin about the rules of art…how can the arguement even EXIST after that wonderful & precocious display! …and anyhow, I think that there is just as much in the way of aesthetic notion, cultural tradition & symbolic meaning in an illustration even if its bl**dy Rupert The Bear or a graphic novel such as The Watchmen…Just think about it, they both contain memorable images evocative of a time frame & period of history that conjure up emotional reactions…whether its the innocence of childhood in Rupert or the stark contrasts of 1980’s America & its contemporary governemnt anxieties! I am both a lover of graphic novels & comic books in their many guises & if Andy Warhol & Lichtenstein are called ‘artists’ then so should Dave Gibbons & Mary Tourtel…but I’ll save that rant for another day 😉
I shall lead out on a note of where Mel Odoms illustrations featured, mainly being used by the likes of Playboy, Blueboy & Penguin as illustrations of stories & advertisements. They dominate in their production & gentle strength, as they seem to stand apart from their intended function & rebelliously refuse to comply to their purpose….yet somehow manage to do as they are told! the most perfect artistic oxymoron I have yet come across!
I shall leave you now to investigate this fascinating man & his work further & hope that my gate crashing introduction to him, provides you with a pleasent appetite for his sleeping androgynes & entrancing sybarites!
May his imagery linger long in your dreams!!!
Well, we all know that some days deliver more disappointment creatively than others! But, hey, that’s the outrageous see-saw of art! The penultimate flip side is the elated high of getting a project finished or all the proverbial pieces seem to fall into place. So….I have written this miniature eplilogue to help inspire those fellow creatives who also feel the need to dust down the paint splattered shirt & try again to tackle a subject or ‘vision’ that just didn’t happen…..Remember there is always a silver cloud ….somewhere….and just ‘don’t give up, don’t EVER give up!’
I hope the following quotes will flip a glimmer of hope at anyone passing through, I always find them most comforting, & usually have a read over them on my battered A4 notepad (whilst nursing a cuppa & a packet of biscuits) on a rough or somewhat slopey day!
Anyhow, here goes….& may your weeks be glorious! 😉
“Follow your own star!” — Dante Alighieri
An artist’s early work is inevitably made up of a mixture of tendencies and interests, some of which are compatible and some of which are in conflict. As the artist picks his way along, rejecting and accepting as he goes, certain patterns of enquiry emerge. His failures are as valuable as his successes: by misjudging one thing he conforms something else, even if at the time he does not know what that something else is.” — Bridget Riley.
“You are not here merely to make a living. You are here in order to enable the world to live more amply, with greater vision, with a finer spirit of hope and achievement. You are here to enrich the world, and you impoverish yourself if you forget that errand.” — Woodrow Wilson.
“The artist is a receptacle for emotions that come from all over the place: from the sky, from the earth, from a scrap of paper, from a passing shape, from a spider’s web.” — Picasso.
“I am always doing things I can’t do, that’s how I get to do them.” — Picasso.
“Beginning with audacity is a very great part of the art of painting.” — Winston Churchill.
“Art washes from the soul the dust of everyday life.” — Picasso.
“What distinguishes a great artist from a weak one is first their sensibility and tenderness; second, their imagination, and third, their industry.” — John Ruskin.
“You can’t cross the sea merely by standing and staring at the water.” — Rabindranath Tagore.
“Happy are the painters, for they shall not be lonely. Light and colour, peace and hope, will keep them company to the end of the day.” — Winston Churchill.
And finally, there is this little gem, which I was given on a bright pink printed sheet in London some 19 years ago. It was handed out under the title of ‘The Legend of the Pin Man’…the Pin Man in question, being a homeless man who travelled around, selling handpainted drawing pin badges that he made & sold ‘3 in a bag’ for a £1.00. I had many a wonderful chat with this incredibly optimistic man, & ran into him several more times over the year in numerous locations, the last time I ever saw him he handed me this piece of paper & I still treasure it too this day! God (or whoever) bless the Pin Man….wherever he is 😉
When things go wrong; as they sometimes will,
When the road you’re trudging seems all uphill,
When the funds are low and the debts are high,
And you want to smile, but you have to sigh,
When care is pressing you down a bit,
Rest if you must, but don’t you quit.
Life is queer with its twists and turns,
As everyone of us sometimes learns,
And many a fellow turns about,
When he might have won had he stuck it out.
Don’t give up though the pace seems slow,
You might succeed with another blow,
Often the goal is nearer than,
It seems to a faint and faltering man;
Often the struggler has given up,
When he might have captured the victor’s cup;
And he learned too late when the night came down,
How close he was to the golden crown.
Success is failure turned inside out,
The silver tint of the clouds of doubt,
And you never can tell how close you are,
It may be near when it seems afar;
So stick to the fight when you’re hardest hit,
It’s when things seem the worst that you must not quit.
Failing that….play the EVER AMAZING Gogol Bordello REALLY loudly 😉
or the music GOD …. the Man In Black, Johnny Cash…I adore his early songs, but was truely blown away when he released his covers albums, this one being originally an amazingly moving NIN track, but if I may say so, I think he owns this one!!!…….A greatly inspirational musician with a voice that always gives me goosepimples!…Fabulous.
As some of you are aware I’ve been beavering away on my personal exhibition: ‘FaeryTales – Creation & Destruction’. A series of five ‘Fairy’ tales or myths are being covered in this venture due to there intrinsically fascinating, interweaving nature & their portrayal of those ever studied themes of ‘love, sex & death’…. and they are:
- Pandora– the first woman of Greek mythology. Each God helped to create her by giving her unique ‘seductive’ gifts. She was moulded out of the earth by Hephaestus & was sent to punish mankind for Prometheus’ theft of the secret fire of the Gods. Pandora, out of curiosity, opened her jar…it has been mistranslated as a box…and released all the evils of mankind — although the particular evils, aside from plagues and diseases, are not specified in detail — leaving only Hope inside once she had closed it again. (I attempt to characterise this moment in my artwork on the right…in a mixed media painting, photo & ink explosion)
Numerous similarities exist between the Pandora of Greek mythology and Eve of the Judaic book of Genesis. Both stories include an account of:
- The divine creation of the first woman.
- Disobedience to a divine command by that first woman.
- A great calamity experienced by all mankind brought on by this woman’s disobedience to a divine command, and
- An attempt at explaining the origin of all resulting suffering and evil subsequently experienced by mankind.
………..Bit of a madam, wasn’t she!!!
- Adam & Eve – the widely debated first man & woman created by the Hebrew God YHWH. However I am bypassing a majority of the beliefs on these two magnificent creations as one could dedicate a lifetime to just interpreting all the differing accounts from Gnostic, Islamic, Christian, Jewish & Manichaean traditions…and believe me , they are all HUGELY different, yet equally fascinating & very inspiring. Instead I have opted to cover John Miltons Adam & Eve from the phenomenal 17th century poem Paradise Lost! The poem in itself conjures up an absolute veritable visual feast & its magnificent in many, many ways…
The mind is its own place, and in itself
Can make a heav’n of hell, a hell of heav’n. – John Milton
- Snow White – a young European medieval woman capable of triple death & resurrection!!! More glorious magic….. Mircea Eliade described the death & rebirth process of Snow Whites life as initatory : “What is called ‘initiation’ coexists with the human condition, reaffirms the ultimate religious significance of life and the real possibility of a happy ending.'” The tale itself is another grand story outlining the polarization of women into the evil and active versus the innocent, passive and domestic.
The moment the queen entered the hall she recognized Snow White, and she was so terrified that she just stood there and couldn’t move. But two iron slippers had already been put into glowing coals. Someone took them out with a pair of tongs and set them down in front of her. She was forced to step into the red-hot shoes and dance till she fell to the floor dead. – Snow White, The Brothers Grimm.
- Lillith – Eve’s alter ego, & demonic first bride of Adam according to Jewish folklore. Lilith left Adam after she refused to become subservient to him and then would not return to the Garden of Eden after she became intimate with the archangel Samael(better known as Satan). The resulting Lilith legend is still commonly used as source material in modern Western culture, literature, occultism, fantasy, and horror…well what would you expect from someone whose name translates into female night demon?
The Dead Sea Scrolls contains one indisputable reference to Lilith in Songs of the Sage fragment 1:
And I, the Instructor, proclaim His glorious splendour so as to frighten and to te[rrify] all the spirits of the destroying angels, spirits of the bastards, demons, Lilith, howlers, and [desert dwellers…] and those which fall upon men without warning to lead them astray from a spirit of understanding and to make their heart and their […] desolate during the present dominion of wickedness and predetermined time of humiliations for the sons of lig[ht], by the guilt of the ages of [those] smitten by iniquity – not for eternal destruction, [bu]t for an era of humiliation for transgression.
Whoa! It makes the hairs on the back of your neck stand up a bit!!! I wonder if shes a muse for Stephen King? 😉
and finally we have
- Streyino Martiya – the strange Romani spirit of the night, a ghostly shadow woman who brings prophetic dreams & nightmares of your own beautiful creations to come or your terrifying destruction – it all depends on who you are & what you believe 😉 A little simialar to Lillith in her own way, this one is a European mystery character & is slightly more of my own creation from Romany folk tales of ghostly goings on at night and allows me to expand my imagination & reminiscences of the tales told to me in my childhood…In the European Middle Ages most ghosts were souls assigned to Purgatory, condemned for a specific period to atone for their transgressions in life. Their penance was generally related to their sin. For example, the ghost of a man who had been abusive to his servants was condemned to tear off and swallow bits of his own tongue; the ghost of another man, who had neglected to leave his cloak to the poor, was condemned to wear the cloak, now “heavy as a church tower.” These ghosts appeared to the living to ask for prayers to end their suffering. Other dead souls returned to urge the living to confess their sins before their own deaths. I’m aiming for a Dante Alghieri-esque ambience with this creature & I look forward to continuing with this creative journey.
Well, I think that should do it for now….This is my lifetimes ambition pressed into a couple of paragraphs to the best of my ability…. I will expand on the themes as time goes by & I hope you enjoy following my artistic adventures, I look forward to sharing more works & ideas.
Goodnight ………. sweet dreams folks 😉