Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Jane Austen's home village and Mad Meg

Radio four talked about Lady Hestor Stanhope yesterday who’s story is amazing. Among many other things she befriended and was beloved by the Arab world an attitude we should try to emulate 200 years later. Her story was discussed on BBC Radio Four yesterday and if you want to know more about her you could start here:

However it is Mad Meg I think of first.
There are a number of great pioneers and yesterday reminded me that I had not done a post on one I came across unexpectedly last winter.

This picture was taken in Jane Austen’s home village of Chawton in Hampshire. I spotted this poster and wondered who she was. The answer is “Mad Meg”or “ Mad Madge”. Subsequent research has left me speechless, I know not what to think; but that poster shook me up a lot.

A Princely Brave Woman

By Stephen Clucas will throw some light on her life and works:,M1

Life Drawing for Victorian Ladies

Corporal Shaw

I suppose some of us never really grow up. When serving, I visited my Regimental museum and among all the astonishing things to see and read was the story of Corporal Shaw.

It frightens me now that I should have learnt by heart the description of this regimental celebrity.

“..Corporal Shaw who cleft a scull so violently that the face fell off like a piece of apple”.

I have at last got round to reading, as time allows, a new book of my Regiment's History.

And there he is, Corporal Shaw, well documented, but without the line I quoted; perhaps too gory and school boyish to be included.

This excellent work by Barney White-Spunner, “Horse Guards”, (ISBN-13 978-1-4050-5574-1, Macmillan) reminds us that History books can be very interesting and captivating reading, even if you are not connected in any obvious way.

So for all you that are interested in Art, Corporal Shaw made a contribution too on this side of the English Channel!

He was according to The Household Cavalry Museum’s example above, posing as an artists’ model for ladies’ drawing classes.

This brings up an interesting point; we are sometimes led to believe that ladies were not allowed to attend life classes in Victorian England, so from that point alone this line is quite revealing!

I am indebted to General Barney and the Household Cavalry Museum for the use of this picture. A visit to The Museum is a must next time you are in London for all the family, and this book is an important addition to all respectable households.

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Dorset Sunflowers

To all lovers of Van Gough, I apologise, in part, for my opinions and in respect for you all, I add the joke I saw in a bunch of flowers my wife brought home recently; these three specimens which are now past their best! We will plant the seeds next year to see if they look better grown in sunny Dorset!

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Thursday, September 11, 2008

Angel of the South, Ebbsfleet Landmark

Just how low profile is this project? Interesting how difficult it seems to be to get people to judge the five ideas from the Artists (flavoured with a Turner Prize or two so you know where we are coming from).

A interesting paragraph from here yesterday sums it all up nicely, and I quote:

Controversy has surrounded the competition after campaigners, including Kent President of Campaign to Protect Rural England, Graham Clarke, claimed the designs have been forced on the county's residents. Despite an exhibition at Bluewater giving residents a chance to vote for their favourite design, many complained that there was not enough choice.

Looking at those designs one might be forgiven for thinking about “a wing and a prayer”, but not the sort that Angels have!

So what do you think?


Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Contemporary Sculpture

On the subject of contemporary art, I have seen this work and liked it. The foundry told me it was extremely difficult to do. The outside of the shell is highly burnished; you can see your face in it! This clearly illustrates just how versitile bronze can be. Some of those figures on Philip Jackson's website are big, very big!

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Marc Quinn and Damien Hirst at Sothebys

Sotheby’s is certainly breaking the ice in terms of selling contemporary work. Indeed one could call it a historical landmark. For artists it is highly significant at least in theory.

Next week, Damien Hirst will become the first artist to sell new work at Sotheby’s auction in London. Waldemar Januszczak asks “Could this be the end of the Gallery”?

Well it does turn the unwritten rule on its head. But will it really give power back to Artists or just for the great and ‘good’ I ask. We wait with baited breath.

Januszczak’s article can be read on line here:

See also the large baby etc here:

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Van Gogh's sunflowers

100 swallows does a fantastic blog which I read regularly, enjoying the stories of Artists and Sculptors he tells and occasionally being inspired by a comment or work he has posted. I recommend you visit him too.

Now I am not on the whole an argumentative type, but I sometimes disagree and can’t resist the urge to say so.

Sunflowers, (origin from other side of pond.)
In the Cognac region of Northern France in September you will see them I think!
To my mind sunflowers are sometimes impressive, sometimes colourful, sometimes eye catching and fun for children to grow. Hamsters like their seeds. But in the pecking order of flowers they rank near the top only in the size category. In other categories for example; colour, insipid yellow; shape or form, common and dull, and so on.

So why does a rather mediocre artist get so much praise for such a dull subject, it really beats me. (The most wonky jugs too.)

Nice story though see here: