Monthly Archives: April 2011

Street Inspirations

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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!

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The Dreamer – Mel Odom

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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!!!

Artistic Optimisim!!

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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.

“Great things are done when men and mountains meet. ” — William Blake

“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.

Reason is our soul’s left hand, faith her right. — John Donne

“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.

“An artist is not paid for his labour but for his vision.” –. James MacNeill Whistler.

“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.

Author Unknown

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.

Faerytales….an art study!

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Mixed media artwork by The Elegant SavageAs 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:

  1. The divine creation of the first woman.
  2. Disobedience to a divine command by that first woman.
  3. A great calamity experienced by all mankind brought on by this woman’s disobedience to a divine command, and
  4. 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.
                      ‘ ‘A great flame follows a little spark.” –                     
                              Dante Alighieri, The Divine Comedy

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 😉

The Poetry of Drawing

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Something wonderful has landed in Gas Hall, in that wonderful gem of the Midlands called Birmingham.  Alongside the fascinating Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery situated in Chamberlain Square is this little beauty of historic & epic proportions.  Well worth a day out!

Apart from my usual excited enthrall at standing as close to someones soul as you possibly can (which I always think happens when you view artwork), I was amazed at getting to see my ‘first’ original Blake watercolour…and it was, to my amusement, ‘The Circle of the Lustful’ for those of you who are interested. Originally I’d visited for the Rossetti & Simeon Solomon collections, but was amazed to find many other unexpected beauties amongst these treasures such as  works by Sandys, Beardsley & Albrecht Durer.  If you do decide to visit don’t get caught without green, as its £6.00 a ticket, unlike the free collection in the main building.  There is a truly fascinating book to accompany this worth while collection quite simply titled ‘ The Poetry of Drawing’ & it really is a fine read & viewing experience.

The visual world of these fabulous masters of eroticism, sensuality, fairytale & horror are brimming with sumptuous literary influences, oozing with symbolic pleasure & rebellious, defiant spirit (get your history books out again if you don’t agree with me & check out the social etiquettes of the times!) To top it off the Pre-Raphaelite   movement was jam packed with individualist, dynamic,  saucy female models & artists who damn well knew the true meaning of the word ‘FEMINIST’…none of this b*lls you get today…they had amazing strength & power in acknowledging their own beauty, feminity & talent…so as well as modelling for their men they gave their own back artistically & probably quite literally. Elizabeth Siddall & Jane Morris being two of the most popular ‘super models’ of the day, so if you’re looking for a place to start, these two ARE the magnificent duo & who could forget ol’ dubiously named Fanny Cornforth.  Now jump on a train & enjoy the experience….& let the ghosts of the past lead you to magical places….oh yeah…and the Edwardian tea rooms in the main Art Gallery delivers a fine cup of tea!!! Have fun 😉

Tadpoles!!!!

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Well, to all intents & purposes I intend to keep a decent balance of music, drama, theatre & art themes running on this thing….so here goes…I couldn’t start a day without grinning inanely at myself in a mirror…& as this isn’t always that easy to do I highly recommend kicking off the morning with a hearty dose of Tadpoles….nope its not some new hippy health food freak out, but a gem of quality genius from those fabulous guys The Bonzo Dog  Band!!!  Slam it on your record player…or if you’re a new fangled git…your CD player…or even more annoyingly…an MP3 (go outside, get your earplugs OUT & listen to NATURE!!!) Listen to the fabulous brilliance of ‘Ali Babas Camel’, which is a joy for all Spike Jones fans:), run around your landing with wet hair & a towel turban to ‘Hunting Tigers’, scream along to ‘I’m an Urban Spaceman’…and last but not least scare your postman to death by howling ‘Boo’ at him through the letterbox! If that doesn’t put a grin on your face, then you’re a pretty dour git…the only warning that comes with this album is ‘Your Neighbours Will Probably Hate You In The Mornings… Forever’  – but a ne fait rein haha!!!

The glorious genius of Vivian Stanshall, who I shall undoubtedly cover in later blogs, & Neil Innes is delightfully captured for all to enjoy here…& if by chance you haven’t heard of these fellas…google onwards & do your research…it will prove most rewarding, that I promise.  Now go and Rhino over your lino!!!

As this band (in its numerous forms) contained & contains many of my  all time art/music/gadget heroes I finally got to see them perform recently (I also got to meet them & what a jolly friendly &  fine bunch of fellows they are too!)…and all I can say is that after singing along & laughing my socks off, watching exploding gadgetry, singing bubble blowing robots with a tendancy to loose clothing, the famous Head Ballet & Roger Ruskin-Speare perform a bum note on a Theramin leg , that the world would be a truly empty  place without them!!! Long live The Bonzos…and I hope Vivian Stanshall is having a ball in the afterlife with a million axolotls wiggling alongside him;)

The Count of Monte Cristo

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I thought I’d kick off my meanderings with my all time favourite story (yep – I attack it at least once a year)!!! If you haven’ t read the book, do so you won’t regret it, or if you haven’t got the time…well…go watch the film….NOW!!!!

It’s such a brilliant & ever inspiring story …but sssssssssssh….I won’t give away anything!!! All I’ll say is that after reading/watching this masterpiece, you’ll have your talons sharpened, your spirit rising & your heart in the right place! Onwards & upwards…as they say!

As a small preamble, the story was written by Alexandre Dumas and I’d say that at least a decent smattering of knowledge of the historical background of Europe in 1815 onwards & bonepartism would certainly help.  As, its set in France from just before The Hundred Days to the reign of Louis-Phillipe and its pretty integral stuff!!! If not, get a history book & start bl**dy reading;) It is an adventure story primarily concerned with themes of  justice, vengeance, mercy, forgiveness & my old favourite…. hope.

So, if you’re EVER having one of those ‘b*stards are grinding me down’ days….sod everything….go home & get your hands on this golden gem… get a decent pot of tea & a packet of biscuits …sit & watch…and BELIEVE ME….NOTHING and NO-ONE will ever bother you AGAIN…! Bye for now folks… 🙂

“There is neither happiness nor unhappiness in this world; there is only the comparison of one state with another. Only a man who has felt ultimate despair is capable of feeling ultimate bliss. It is necessary to have wished for death in order to know how good it is to live…..the sum of all human wisdom will be contained in these two words: Wait and Hope.”

— Alexandre Dumas (The Count of Monte Cristo)