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Monday, January 31, 2011

Book Works

marbled book boards, Japanese lacquered box lid, porcelain angel, vintage doll arm, bone, shell,  fossil ammonite, bone buttons, shelf fungus, glass, metal, paper text

We all know there are certain objects that possess a kind of life of their own, a value beyond the merely intrinsic worth of materials. Works of art are obvious examples of a "thing" invested with the special energy of human hopes and creativity that can elevate paper and ink, steel and limestone, found object and wooden box to the realm of the numinous, to become truly "something". And in a similar soulful universe there are musical instruments and books, things I have since childhood felt to be among those objects most deserving of careful preservation and reverent handling.
There are currently so many wonderful artists creating evocative work with altered books, successfully appropriating the power that a book shaped vessel carries in human consciousness. Although I've admired and tremendously enjoyed many of these pieces, when it came time to try my hand at my own version I've always felt a slight pang at the idea of destroying a book--- regardless of its apparent lack of merit as literature, etc. Maybe I'm just a hopeless, old fashioned librarian at heart (or was in my last incarnation). Lately, though, I've been especially entranced by the beautiful gold embossed covers and marbled endpapers that exist in abundance in the used bookshops of France (but covers, I rationalized, that often garb the most mundane of ideas in sumptuous clothes...). So I purchased a couple of inexpensive lovelies thinking I would finally have a go at creating something with them---Instead they've become a part of the "decor" wherever I happen to be working but remain untouched thus far. I was finally able to begin playing with the ideas they sparked when I made the happy discovery (literally just inches ahead of the sanitation workers) of a cardboard box filled with gutted vintage covers. There was no time to be particular or grab more than a handful before it all disappeared into the roaring maw of the garbage beast, but it was enough to begin work (guilt free!).
These are untitled as yet, still a bit in process, nothing set in stone...(or perhaps hot glue ..)
fabric covered book board, metal, wood, glass, bumblebee, pine cone scales, moss, poppy pods, acorn cap, buttons, paper text, shell

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Fae Underground

To illustrate that the fae of many eras have sought subterranean shelter, I submit the following for your perusal--- the extraordinary, crystal illuminated laboratory of an ancient alchemist gnome, complete with minute alembics and the ubiquitous furnace in miniature...

 And a fae bedchamber of more recent date, illuminated by the rays of many wasp paper lamps...or in the more mundane light of day...

Monday, January 17, 2011

Paleolitic Fae?

If you've ever been curious about how early faeries lived whilst our ancestors were dwelling in caves and wrapping themselves in animal skins I'd like to take you on a short photographic visit to this recently discovered miniature troglodytic habitation, the first of its kind to be acknowledged and systematically studied by the scientific community. The cave site has been described by investigating scholars (in distinctly nonacademic terms) as "tiny--about the size of a large washbasin" and was discovered in the autumn of 2010 by a pair of recreational rock climbers whose Sunday outing dislodged the stones blocking the entrance. The actual location is a closely guarded secret and has been described by the press simply as "a steep cliff face in the Dordogne, France", a region already famous for its many traces of early cave dwelling humans. 
Although at this point in time there can be little more than educated conjecture concerning the original purpose of this amazing site, judging by the extensive wall decor and rich furnishings it appears to have been a place of some ritual or ceremonial importance. (In some aspects it also bears a striking if rather anachronistic resemblance to photos of mid twentieth century art galleries of the abstract expressionist persuasion--notice in particular the small sculptural pieces on pedestals). Whatever its original purpose, it is a stunningly well preserved glimpse into the distant magical past and yet another cautionary note to the fae naysayers.

Monday, January 10, 2011

The Ancient City of Arles

detail of Roman theatre

Roman coliseum interior view

Van Gogh's asylum courtyard

view with Van Gogh's night time rendition of the same site

exterior detail Roman coliseum

early Christian sarcophagus side detail

Arles is one of my favorite stops in the south (or anywhere, for that matter) in France--- so much beauty and history within easy grasp. Its Roman roots are in clear evidence in the well preserved and magnificent coliseum and theatre at the heart of the city, where they are surrounded by other outstanding monuments from the medieval and renaissance eras. A host of carved figures sigh and grimace from weathered facades among a labyrinth of winding, narrow streets that bloom here and there with lavish blues and the hot colors of the south. Here, also,Van Gogh painted a significant number of masterworks both within and without the asylum walls, a shelter that still stands in mute testament to his images' power to insinuate themselves into our collective conscious. The Arlesian churches boast some of the most extensive collections of saints' relics I have encountered--a macabre juxtaposition of dark cranium fragments and shattered long bones resting on scarlet velvet within elaborate Gothic style reliquaries of gold and rock crystal. Hope you enjoy this small taste of Arles' riches as much as I have...

Roman columns



Roman coliseum

Van Gogh's asylum