Friday, July 29, 2011

A Sussex Albion

Finished this today. 

William Blake and his wife metaphorically cast out from the Garden of Eden - or rather in this case Felpham - Adam and Eve style, after the incident with the soldier, and overlooked by one of his angels that lived in the trees.

Most of the cuttings for this collage came from a stash of old National Geographics - I believe the thatch in reality is a desert and the angel's robe, for instance, part of the Lascaux caves.
I love these transformations.
Anyway, it's a relief to have finished it at last.

Its completion coincides with my beginning a new book tomorrow which may or may not provide me with food for thought for my next House......

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Wrestling with Blake

This is possibly my most difficult one so far, in that it has so far caused not one but two headaches. There is a lot of standing up involved in making a collage, what am I saying, more standing up than sitting down. And the combination with a bowed head is not good. Last night I feared a migraine so took myself off to bed with the cats locked out. Ooof, very serious that. They are still sulking..

The hippy lookalike is gone and replaced with a tree which I hope looks a bit Blakean with some sheep and vapours. Blake was big on sheep. (While I am in danger of contracting the vapours). In fact I may put this vignette on the back burner for a painting at some point.

Hopefully it's all looking very Albion-y and green and pleasant landish. I think I'd like to go for a walk through this garden.

Oh, and the significance of the scythe - I nearly forgot:
"In the summer of 1803 Blake found in the garden of his cottage a soldier, called in by the gardener, it seems, to cut the grass. Blake did not like soldiers; he was against war as such, and against the war of English intervention in France in particular. He ordered the intruder out by main force. Ill-advised words followed, reported as "Damn the King, and damn all his soldiers, they are all slaves"; and some remarks about Napoleon more fitted to the mouth of a French than of an English poet ..."

The upshot was poor old Blake was tried at Chichester for treason but eventually acquitted.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Bring me my scissors of delight ...

Well, it's got a catchy tune ... and I am enjoying getting stuck into this (puns'r'us). It's getting to the complicated, decisions-to-be-decided-upon stage. I always seem to start with the windows, I find they concentrate my mind wonderfully.

Blake and Catherine, his long-suffering wife, were known for stripping off in their garden in Lambeth so I have no doubt they did so in the far less urban surroundings of Felpham, so there they are. At the moment.

"I have very little of Mr Blake's company," Catherine was quoted as saying, "he is always in Paradise."
So I must place much more paradaisical green and pleasant vegetation in here to compliment the Adam and Eve of Felpham.

The archway I think may have been a later addition to the cottage but I have purloined it for 1800 as it has a Blakean, grotto-like feel. The scythe represents an infamous episode which led to Blake's trial for treason in Chichester, which I will relate in my next post being as I am pressed for time right now.

The angels .... Blake used to converse with them and see them in trees. I am not sure the more finished one on the left isn't influenced by my last post and Alan's comments - a bit flower-powery and harking back to those art school days of mine.

Entirely unlooked for effect.
Such is the power of the subconscious...

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Beginning with Blake

My love of William Blake dates back to my art school days when he fitted in with all that rebellion, mysticism and downright morbid angst to which spotty youth is so prone. Bedsits with Athena posters of Blake's engraving of Newton, funny cigarettes and vile smelling joss sticks ... those were the days... Blake spans such a wonderful period of English history, being born just before Romanticism really got underway , in 1757 and dying in 1827.

A dyed in the wool Londoner, he nevertheless has a connection to my favourite county, Sussex, having lived in the idyllic village of Felpham for three years (1800-1803) during which time he produced the strangely wondrous words for Jerusalem. The cottage, then called Rose Cottage, still stands but is privately owned.
So I have decided it is to be my next collage capture.

Here is the roughest of rough beginnings:

And here is an engraving of the building by the great man himself:

I think the blue is too strong. I want to keep to the true Blakean palette. That means a lot of whittling down of cuttings scraps ... watch this space!

Monday, July 18, 2011


 Thank you to the person who bought these two paintings at the ABNA show in St Ives at the weekend.
I am very fond of them so am pleased they have found a good home.

Cut Off

The Blue Boat                

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Out of season's greetings from Miss Austen ...

I glued in the last snowflake (which all look suspiciously like the cotton wool balls my dad and I used to make for the Christmas tree when I was really small) this afternoon.

The light wasn't very good so it's a bit dark and there is about 3 and a half centimetres chopped off on either side because my camera doesn't do nice slimline rectangles, only dumpy ones. When I have better images on the Canon I will replace all the duff photos I have taken of late. As it is there are just one-and-a-half robins on either side of the house instead of two.
But I wanted to upload it because I then feel it is done and out there and I am freed to start on something else.

Mrs Austen in her pyjamas has gone. And that may or may not be Martha Lloyd in the doorway putting out the cat. The swirly lines have writing on. Which may or may not (ambiguous moi?) be words written by Jane Austen, a Christmas carol or just a simple swirl of seasonal fog. Or all three. I gave the neighbour bearing holly a black dog. The Dilke's refugee cat is back in the scraps box.

Christmas always reminds me of childhood. And one of the things I loved most in the run up was opening envelopes from aged relatives containing those dated (even then) cheapo cards with cheesy scenes of coaches and four, snow, glowing mullioned windows and rosy cheeked people in strange old-fashioned clothes. Often liberally sprinkled in glitter. I thought they were wonderful and would wish myself into the jolly scenes. As I got older and more sophisticated (who am I kidding?) I would outwardly make fun of them while still sneakily getting a thrill if one came through the post.

So now I produce this design. I think there are some echoes in there. My past is catching up on me ...

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Beavering away on Chawton Cottage

Okay, so some of this is stuck down and some is in a state of flux. Is this a metaphor for my life I ask myself in ironic tone.

I am afraid it is becoming a bit unwieldy. For a "cottage" Jane Austen's was a bit of a humdinger as far as size goes. I have had to add on more at the sides as I go along to try to approximate to the rather grand proportions.

Looks like the turkey might be squeezed out. But there goes Jane Austen crossing the street. And her mum is at the door. Though she looks a wee bit too much like she is in her pyjamas at the moment so that will have to be changed.

I have been mugging up on Chawton Cottage for some background info: It was already 120 years old when the Austens moved in, part of Jane's brother Edward's estate. He improved it quite a lot for them, adding on more rooms at the back, apparently. Jane, her mother, her sister and their friend Martha Lloyd were not the only inhabitants, there were several servants. No wonder the place is a bit of a sprawler rather than a poky two up two downer with roses round the door traditional building associated with the word "cottage".

And it must have had an interesting view, looking out as it did over the main road to Winchester with all the comings and goings of the coaches that that implies. And the clatter. In fact in one of her letters Jane describes looking out of the front window and seeing the face of one of her nephews inside a passing coach.

Anyway, enough of this and back to the drawing board. I am setting myself a this week deadline for this larger-than-usual piece.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

A Happy Christmas in July ...

I always did prefer cold to heat so what better time to put together my Jane Austen Christmas card design?

As the petunias wilt, brittle rubber tree leaves clatter to the ground and the cats sprawl in the shade, here am I in the cool and clutter of the studio moving bits of paper around the drawing board and trying to imagine myself into a Regency December in Hampshire kinda mood.

The idea came to me when I stumbled upon a contemporary engraving of holly sellers. I don't know if that's a holly seller approaching Chawton Cottage or one of the neighbours, but either way he gave me the way in to the picture: Probably not raggety enough for a seller now I come to think of it. A neighbour then. With a gift of holly and fir from his fields to deck the Chawton Cottage halls.

On the left is a refugee - surplus cat from the Dilke tribe in Keats House I found in my box of unused bits and pieces.
He may yet be transformed into a turkey. I am not sure that turkeys had got their feet on the Christmas traditions ladder or do I mean under the traditional Christmas meal table at that time, probably not, but I will conveniently ignore the fact. I fancy doing a turkey.

In the meantime I am pleased to announce the unveiling yesterday of my (still under construction) new website:

Please drop by and have a look if you have the time, as I say I am still faffing around with it so there are lots of blanks and things that probably need blanking come to that. Golly I am getting so au fait with technology I can't believe it.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Jane Austen collage, finished at last

Jane and Cassandra Austen Tending Their Garden at Steventon

Phew! Finished at last. Has this been my most fiddly to date? Probably. It has also been a bit of a mission tracking down suitable prints that I thought fitted the period.

My admittedly shallow researches so far didn't actually turn up any references to either Jane or her sister Cassandra tending their garden at Steventon Rectory, their practical enthusiasms seemed channelled into putting their ensembles together and attending dances but I daresay they may have done some genteel pruning or cutting of flowers for the house.

But they most certainly did patchwork.
In a letter written to Cassandra in 1811 Jane wrote:
"Have you remembered to collect pieces for the patchwork - we are now at a standstill?" And I believe one is on display at the Jane Austen Museum in Chawton. So I've got that right, anyway

I don't seem to be able to capture the brightness of this picture. I've taken about a dozen shots but none of them come up to the mark. I'm looking forward to getting some professional style photos taken by my daughter when she arrives at the back end of July.
Bear with me!