Art imitating Life

Art imitating LifeI loved collaging this together – I couldn’t get out of my mind the conundrum of art imitating life, or life imitating art, which is the right way round?    So off I went and mashed together a lovely lady from William van Kooi’s ‘The Love Letter’, with a room from Jacobus Cornet, added a side table and a pot of flowers (Manet).  I made the lady in the room less lifelike than the portrait of her on the wall, just to underline the point!

All the originals can be viewed in their full glory at the Rijks, but my digital collage is viewable on the Society 6 site.

 

At the broken places

Untitled-3How does a man live well?  That is the question that I think Ernest Hemingway considered, and it is his tragedy that he never lived up to his vision of what makes a man good.  Hemingway’s father committed suicide, as he would do himself after suffering ill health and depression.  The legacy of suicide is a cruel one, and Ernest’s son Gregory would take his own life too, continuing the impression that life is not always worth living or struggling through.

After much reading, and there is plenty out there, I come away feeling a pathos toward the writer, a sort of kinship in the confusion of what being human means.  He is a glorious mixture of different impetuses, just as we all are.  He wrote about it and he wanted you to read that.  He loved Shakespeare and Tolstoy, admiring their acuity in reading human motivations  and characteristics. Shakespeare was his ‘undisputed champion’ and in the New Yorker’s profile of Hemingway, he is reported to have said I started out very quiet and I beat Mr. Turgenev. Then I trained hard and I beat Mr. de Maupassant. I’ve fought two draws with Mr. Stendhal, and I think I had an edge in the last one. But nobody’s going to get me in any ring with Mr. Tolstoy unless I’m crazy or I keep getting better.

The man was complex and although he lived a brash life in many ways, hunting, fighting, fishing – in actual fact his impulse was to write, and his personality was far more introverted than may appear to the casual reader.  I believe this tension in living differently to his nature provoked much of his later problems with alcohol and depression.  He wrote with intensity and authenticity, and it is these that promote his work into the ‘greats’.  I get the feeling that he despised much about himself, having a self awareness without that accompanying level of delusion that saves most of us.  

For a more thorough life story , look to the biographers, of which there have been plenty, but for the man, look to his writing.  You will find him there, not always in the obvious, but in the characters he draws there are pointers.  

I leave you with some excerpts – pages from the latest hand made book I am making to commission, but if you are interested, please get in touch.  page four reverse page five (2) page five reverse page six

So, what do you do?

9584137_10919191_lz

 

What do I do all day? – I was asked this the other day, and thought about it – how do I  spend the majority of my time, once the domestic chores are completed, or more likely ignored?  I have to admit to the privilege of being able to dictate how I spend the majority of my time once I have discharged the responsibilities of housekeeper, wife, mother and dog walker.  And I love it. I love the space of being allowed to meander amongst the various pathways of my  mind and the plethora of material available on the internet – a real benefit for a curious mind.  I love the opportunity to create my versions of hand made books and to sometimes have the privilege of collaboration with a commission.

Once upon a time I felt somewhat guilty for not having a more productive endeavour, but no longer. Now I revel in the opportunity to sometimes spend time doing what I like, how I want to.

Time – its the most precious commodity we have,  so watch where you invest yours.  And when someone asks me now, I tell them how it is, without apology.  Took me a while, but I got there.

If you want to see more of my creative endeavours, then pop in to my Etsy shop or my Society 6 store page.  I would love to have your feedback too.

Enjoy your day, your week, your life.

The Poetry of Architecture, and the reason you don’t want to become a brand.

 

St Marks

St Marks

Boy are you in for a treat today!!!  Recently I have been researching some Pre Raphaelite art as a favour to a fellow crafter, and in pursuing said research , I was distracted by a fabulous volume written by the critic John Ruskin, ‘Stones of Venice’ in which he praises the achievements of the massive numbers of common workers who laboured with skill, patience, and reverence on the great Gothic structures of medieval Europe. This treatise on architecture has been described not simply in terms of scholarship, but also as a work of art in itself.

I havn’t indulged to the degree of now being versed in the history or topography of archtitecture – I barely slipped over the surface- but the passages I have read can be understood as deeper messages than understanding that area of interest.  I will admit to having to overlook his many allusions to a Victorian God, but he was of his time and I am of mine.  Although I confess to a more agnostic outlook, I can see the virtue in believing in a connecting thread through time and space (albeit not Ruskins vision).

I hope you see value in the passages I have recorded below – ( a labour of love since I couldn’t copy and paste and had to type it out!)  It shouts loudly to me about ignoring the clarion call to give yourself a brand identity and express yourself in all endeavour simply with integrity, for the satisfaction that brings of itself.  Oh Ruskin!! I hear you!!!

…for it is necessary first to teach men to speak out, and say what they like, truly; and in the second place, to teach them which of their likings are ill set, and which justly. If a man is cold in his likings and dislikings, or if he will not tell you what he likes, you can make nothing of him. Only get him to feel quickly and to speak plainly, and you may set him right. And the fact is, that the great evil of all recent architectural effort has not been that men liked wrong things; but that they either cared nothing about any, or pretended to like what they did not. Do you suppose that any modern architect
likes what he builds or enjoys it? Not in the least. He builds it because he has been told that such and such things are fine, and that he should like them. He pretends to like them, and gives them a false relish of vanity. Do you seriously imagine, reader, that any living soul in London likes triglyphs? – or gets any hearty enjoyment out of pediments? You are much mistaken. Greeks did: English people never did,never will. …Very few faults of architecture are mistakes of honest choice; they are almost always hypocrisies.
So then the first thing we have to ask of the decoration is that it should indicate strong liking, and that honestly. It matters not so much what the thing is, as that the builder should really love it and enjoy it, and say so plainly. The architect of Bourges Cathedral liked hawthorns ; so he has covered his porch with hawthorn,- it is a perfect Niobe of May. Never was such hawthorn ; you would try
to gather it forthwith, but for fear of being pricked. The old Lombard architects liked hunting ; so they covered their work with horses and hounds, and men blowing trumpets two yards long. the base Renaissance architects of Venice liked masquing and fiddling ; so they covered their work with comic masks and musical instruments. Even that was better than our English way of liking nothing and professing to liking triglyphs….
..Half the evil in this world comes from people not knowing what they do like ; -not deliberately setting themselves to find out what the really enjoy. All people enjoy giving away money , for instance ‘ they don’t know that,they rather think they like keeping it; and they do keep it, under this false impression, often to their great discomfort. Everybody likes to do good, but not one in a hundred finds this out. Multitudes think they like to do evil ; yet no man ever really enjoyed doing evil since God made the world.

So in this lesser matter of ornament. It needs some little care to try experiments upon yourself; it needs deliberate question and upright answer. But there is no difficulty to be overcome, not abstruse  be gone into ; only a little watchfulness needed, and thoughtfulness, ans so much honesty as will enable you to confess to yourself, and to all men, that you enjoy things, though great authorities say you should not.

This looks somewhat like pride, but it is true humility, a trust that you have been so created as to enjoy what is fitting for you, and a willingness to be pleased, as it was intended you should be. It is the child’s spirit, which we are most happy when we most recover’ remaining wiser than children in our gratitude that we can still be pleased with a fair colour, or a dancing light. And, above all, do not try to make all these pleasures reasonable, not to connect the delight which you take in ornament witht hat which you take in construction or usefulness. They have no connection; and every effort that you make to reason from one to the other will blunt your sense of beauty, or confuse it with sensation altogether inferior to it. You were made for enjoyment, and the world was filled with things which you will enjoy, unless you are too proud to be pleased by them, or too grasping to care for what you cannot turn to other account than mere delight. Remember the most beautiful things in the world are the most useless; peacocks and lilies for instance….

We won’t be alone admiring it ; it became one of the most influential books of the 19th century, inspiring William Morriss to re publish the chapter ‘The Nature of Gothic’ and prompting the narrator of Marcel Proust’s ‘Recherce’ to visit Venice with his mother enthused with Ruskin like spirit.

 

“To banish imperfection is to destroy expression, to check exertion, to paralyze vitality.”

See the whole book here   http://ebook.lib.hku.hk/CADAL/B31390055V1/

 

Based on the original by John Ruskin in his architectural treatise, The Stones of Venice

Based on the original by John Ruskin in his architectural treatise, The Stones of Venice

 

Feeling the flow

12505887_2385059_lz

 

Some weeks flow don’t they?   This week sees me in fine fettle – loving what I do – see above!!! Foraging into different times and different cultures brings me a whole lot of happiness.  Firstly there’s the research side of it, which can cause aeons to pass without me having a sixty third cup of coffee  and that is only a good thing.  Learning about indigenous people from far away places connects me to a living humanity and that excites me. It transports me away from the mundanity of the everyday and I engage in someone elses belief systems and experiences.  Then I feel all that headrush sort of somersault inside me and it makes me dance inside.  Dancing inside is a wonderful evocation of life spirit and involves no muscle tension, so all good.  That is when I go  to the tools that help me create something decorative, which in itself makes me feel sort of full up. Like when you’ve met someone new you know is going to be a valuable part of your life.  Speaking of which, I have reason for another inner dance this week, as my eldest son discovered to his delight he had received a First in his History and International Politics Degree at Leeds University. Yay!!!!! (Now where are those dancing shoes!)

 

I saw a man pursuing the horizon

Stephen Crane

I saw a man pursuing the horizon;
Round and round they sped.
I was disturbed at this;
I accosted the man.
“It is futile,” I said,
“You can never—”

“You lie,” he cried,
And ran on.

Composition I and Composition II

cris seascape 1 print cris seascape 2clock

 

‘The composition is the thing seen by every one living in the living they are doing, they are the composing of the composition that at the time they are living in the composition of the time in which they are living. It is that that makes living a thing they are doing. Nothing else is different, of that almost any one can be certain. The time when and the time of and the time in that composition is the natural phenomena of that composition and of that perhaps every one can be certain.

No one thinks these things when they are making when they are creating what is the composition, naturally no one thinks, that is no one formulates until what is to be formulated has been made.’

 

Thanks to Gertrude Stein for the words.

Thanks to my lovely husband for the photography, and the holiday. Thanks to our boys who make holidays and life the best way to spend our days.

How to live, Montaigne style

amonikabyanyuvva:

Can’t recommend Montaigne highly enough. So I am telling you all again about Sarah Bakewells book. Brilliant.

Originally posted on moving in time:

How to live A Life of Montaigne

Montaigne , the French essayist, would retreat to the comfort of his tower, where he could think and write. What were his motives?  To advise an audience ?  That was not his primary objective.  His main preoccupation was to remove himself from activity he did not want to do, and distract himself with activity he did want to engage in. So, as a man of considerable position in the vicinity, he chose to step down from political life, and invest his life in his musings.  He was in a veritable position of privilege to be able to do so, for sure, but nevertheless, it was an astonishing move for a gentleman only in his late thirties, who may otherwise have considered adding to his worldly fortunes and notices.

So I became interested in Montaigne , the man, and this imperative of his fascinated me…

View original 986 more words