Monday, May 28, 2012

Progress in paradise ...

Golly, the sheep are threatening to overwhelm things. I may have to have a cull ... Though I have to say Palmer was never one to eek out his sheep when it came to a rural landscape.
And there's William Wordsworth, contemplating the moon in the finest nocturnal Romantic tradition of contemplating the moon, life, love and everything. And sheep, of course.

I almost had a disaster when I came in and discovered the big ginger, Princess Pushy, lying fast asleep in total feline abandon right across the board. (Actually, thinking about it, it would be a cat-astrophe, not a disaster). Anyway, to a large extent it was as so much was dislodged (and this despite my not yelling at her so as not to frighten her and scatter the lot), it took ages to restore order (thank goodness for my digital images).

Am having trouble finding a nice large piece of slightly off-white for the house .... nothing in the scrap boxes is quite what I have in mind. And I really like to start the process of sticking the whole collage beginning with the house itself. 
Might have to resort to the stationer or art shop tomorrow .....

Saturday, May 26, 2012

An earthly paradise

That's how Dorothy Wordsworth described the grounds of Allan Bank, the rather grand house on the hill overlooking Grasmere Lake where in 1808 she, her brother William, his wife Mary, Mary's sister Sara and the three little Wordsworth children moved when they left the increasingly cramped conditions of Dove Cottage.

In addition there were two friends, fellow poets Samuel Taylor Coleridge and Thomas de Quincey, who also came to stay for protracted visits. Extraordinary characters, one of whom was in love with Sara.
It must have been quite an interesting and emotional household!

Ironically Allan Bank had been lambasted as a horrible blot on the landscape by Wordsworth as he had watched it being built, slap bang in the middle of his idyllic, beloved view from Dove Cottage a couple of years previously, a no-concessions white rectangle in the midst of lush green upland.

But as it turned out the Wordworth Allan Bank interlude was a brief one. The chimneys smoked horribly and William fell out with the landlord. After two years they left for pastures new though near.

The house is now a National Trust property, recently restored after fire destroyed much of the interior a few years ago.

The above is what I did yesterday. I haven't got very far as you see. Though I must admit it has moved on from the minimalist evening before:

As you see, it's all about moving the pieces around at the moment.

I've been looking at a lot of Samuel Palmer, Edward Calvert and British neo-Romantics lately and I think some of it has rubbed off. I enjoyed going through my boxes of cuttings to assemble a nice big swatch of nightime colours and reading some Wordsworth at bedtime to try and think my way into this imaginary landscape loosely based on some photos hunted down on the net (good old Google).

Saturday, May 19, 2012

All in the mind (and doodling book)

That post title is nothing to do with cod psychology, and everything to do with this:

To say nothing of this:
and this:

Meaning my life at the moment is dominated by ladders and housepaint. Very tiring. Not much time for proper creativity, just contemplating future projects:

Which are all Wordsworthian. I must say that over his long life, right from the very start, William lived in a succession of fabulous houses ... I will be spoilt for choice once I get back to the studio.

On another note I have to report two sad losses - two of my cats, Ghandi and Jess, dying within a few weeks of each other of unrelated causes. Well actually they were both getting on in years. So it was age related complications. 

Sadly missed by me, though how much by the remaining sprightlier four is debatable. Not much would be my guess.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Moodier blues and the sky at night ....

The grey was a bit dead so after much faffing around I am adding some moody background. Underwater deep sea clippings (chiming with the writ in water epitaph) which double as mottled sky.
It's looking a bit Patrick Moore-ish now......

Thursday, May 10, 2012

An English poet by the Spanish Steps

Here it is.
The facade of the famous mansion in Rome, Piazza di Spagna 26, where, in a small apartment on the second floor, John Keats finally succumbed to what he called "the family disease" - consumption - on February 23, 1821.

At the time this area of Rome was a favourite for foreign (and particularly English) residents. During Keats and Severn's occupation their neighbours were (downstairs, on the first floor) one Thomas Gibson and his French valet. Upstairs was an Irishman, James O'Hara and an Italian military man, Giuseppe d'Alia.

The poet and his artist friend paid their Venetian landlady, Anna Angeletti, £5 a month in rent. 

By this time Keats had written all the poetry that place him among the greats. Literary exertions were beyond him, save for a few letters to friends in England. His last, indeed the last time he ever put pen to paper, was to his friend and former Hampstead housemate, Charles Brown.

He told him: "... I am afraid to encounter the proing and conning of any thing interesting to me in England. I have an habitual feeling of my real life having past, and that I am leading a posthumous existence."

I have tried to imbue this house (which is now the Keats-Shelley Museum) with something approaching the nostalgia which overwhelmed the dying Keats. Not sure how far I have succeeded. Though I must say I am quite pleased with the tension created by the rising pigeons and the falling roses, and the incorporation of a sonnet and the posthumous existence line into the building.