On my visit to London last week, I walked past all sorts of wonders and delights.
A shoe tree growing over the Thames across from The Tate Britain.
Borough Market which I walked through to get to my b&b the end of each day. It's my favourite market in London partly because of its whimsically Victorian feel; partly its amazing location under London Bridge; and partly because you can buy the most *amazing* food there. Everything. From paella to falafel to street-dogs. From cheeses to fresh fish to meat. During the day it hums, alive with sounds and smells. At night it has another sort of magic.
I visited antiques markets. This one at Camden Passage in Islington, north of the river. It's a neighbourhood I'd never been to before, but will certainly return to. From what I saw, it's a vibrant mix of grotty and funky; artsy and sober.
On Thursdays, Spitalfields Market holds its weekly Antiques Market. This was one of the reasons for my visit to London. I was after nineteenth century letters and photographs. In my original Spitalfields collage series, I used the photos I'd found on my first visit to the market and made collages from them including the first lines of stories which I wrote, printed out, and pasted to the collages.
("It was only in the morning's solitary twilight that she could hear that feathered song murmur through her thirsty bones.")
I came home with a pocket full of old photos. Since I can't possibly know their stories, I like the idea of creating ones for them.
As I spread them out on my table, I was startled to notice that they were all of females - with one exception. This was such a surprisingly touching photo of a man and his dog that I had to take it along with me.
And I found letters. Lots of lovely, old letters.
Those that I could read were mostly regarding payment of accounts. One was from 1832 written by a fellow asking whether the man he was writing to (one he'd never met) might have a placement at his brewery for his brother for two to three years. I can imagine becoming obsessed with the past through old letters.
They're even lovely as objects, regardless of any social-historical significance.
Unfortunately, I have to cut or rip them up for my collages. I always feel an unpleasant twinge when I do this.
But, hey. So it is with art. Here are my latest collages using fragments from the new-old letters.
(15 x 15 cm.)
I recently bought some mini wood panels: 10 x 10 x 3.5 cm. Here's the result. It can hang on a wall, or sit on a shelf. It was fun playing with a completely different format.
And a not terrible smooth segue from collage making to poetry, my poem "before" has been accepted by Niteblade Fantasy and Horror Magazine for their March 2013 issue. I'm thrilled. Thank you so much, Alexa!
I find myself once again in London; this enchanting, confounding, enigmatic chimera of a city which long ago won my heart. It's a city of multiple exposures: layers of time that can be sensed around every mass of concrete and brick, along every twist of pavement and cobble-stoned street. Being in London is rather like being in a time machine on the blink; with pieces of yourself deposited in different periods at once.
This time, a large part of me has been firmly plonked down in the Victorian period.
There is an exhibit currently running at the Tate Britain: "Pre-Raphaelites: Victorian Avant-Garde". Below is the cover of my copy of the catalogue.
It was gorgeous.
The exhibit was mainly made up of paintings, but there were also textiles, tapestries, a stunning knotted rug, books from William Morris' Kelmscott Press including a drool-worthy edition of "The Works of Geoffrey Chaucer,"examples of stained glass, a clavichord, a few samples of furniture, and Morris' lovely seventeenth century four poster bed with a spread, curtains, and pelmet (similar to a valance hung round the top of the bed) all of which were designed and embroidered by May Morris, William's daughter who had her father's genius for both design and execution of beautiful decorative work.
It is inspiring what the Pre-Raphaelites set out to do and actually accomplished. Walking through the exhibit, thinking about how they rejected the soul and beauty destroying industrial revolution, it was impossible not to think of our own times, and of the many banksters, Conservative politicians, and their ilk running about on the streets and in buildings and office towers not far away.
As a tonic to such thoughts, I also bought a copy of the Penguin's "Christina Rossetti: Selected Poems" from the gallery shop. I'm sure I have many of these poems in other anthologies, but it is nice to have them in a book of their own.
Later on my wanderings down Charing Cross Road, known for its second hand book shops, I stumbled upon a delightful shop selling antiquarian books, maps, prints, and documents called "Notions Antiquaria." It's run by Tracey Brett, daughter of the man who established it in the 1970's. It's a charming shop that transported me to times past. I was taken by an Arthur Rackham engraving from an early edition of Peter Pan, which is now tucked away in my suitcase. It's titled "Looking very undancy indeed."
Tomorrow I head home. Which I'm always glad about. It's nice to have some mementoes of London - past and present - going with me. As well as thoughts inspired by what I saw, and the reminder that - in spite of how it often seems - the power of beauty and wonder are enduring and can shape so much of the world around us.
For those who aren't familiar with this - as I wasn't until very recently - it's when an Etsy user chooses up to 16 images of works for sale by other sellers and puts them together in a pictorial mosaic; usually under a theme.
I wandered through some of my favourite Etsy shops and picked items that caught my eye. Soon, a theme emerged. Once it was all together, I gave it the title "in the room of november dreams."
The colours are muted: greys, pale or slaty blues, dusty beiges. Colours I love.
When I got back to my own Etsy offerings, I was shocked by how different from these the colours in my recent collages are.
Pieces have a way of creating themselves. And the ones I created in the past two months - when the trees outside were blazing with warm colour under an intensely blue sky - reflect that time.
But now, in November's muted mood, I feel my palette being affected once again.
Here's my latest collage.
(mixed media collage: 15 x 15 cm.)
Much more of a sober November feel.
It's fascinating to see how season can affect one's art.
(For those who read the earlier version of this post, no I wasn't referring to my skid when I mentioned my pallet, I'm just one of the world's worst spellers! Foiled by spellcheck and English homophones once again!)
Ok. That's not really the order I wanted to put things in. The first thing I wanted to mention - because I'm frankly giddy over it - is that my poem "skin" has been accepted by Mythic Delirium. Mike Allen has posted the poems to appear in Issue 28, to be released Spring 2013:
Día de los Muertos F.J. Bergmann
The Beast Rachel Manija Brown
Mice Beth Cato
Maud Gonne, After Alicia Cole
The Serpent Explains the Nature of Tricksters to His Wife Ruthanna Emrys
The Princess Becomes a Prophet Jeannine Hall Gailey
Wheels Adele Gardner
The Last Siren Andrew Gilstrap
The Green Green Rain Neile Graham
skin Lynn Hardaker
Circe In Manhattan Wendy Howe
Gleaming Mari Ness
The Theatre Golems Dominik Parisien
Rare Annie Caitlyn Paxson
How to Bring Your Dead Lover Back K.L. Pereira
The Motor Prayer Donald Raymond
Doomcall Alistair Rennie
Persephone Set Free Sofia Samatar
Revising Horror (The Wrong Mouth) David Sandner
The Nostalgia of Roads Alexandra Seidel
The Ceremony of Innocence Sonya Taaffe
I'm thrilled, and looking forward to reading this issue. May sound corny, but it really is an honour to have one of my poems included. Many thanks to Mike and Anita for including it.
A couple of days ago, I went to an outdoor market in town. They had stalls selling everything from fifty different types of brushes, to ones selling beautiful ceramics. Some sold antiques. I scrounged through these, looking for items for my collages. Unfortunately, it was slim pickens. No letters older than WWI, and most of the people in most of the old photos didn't speak to me. Got some old keys and coins too.
And - another of the new, smaller collages I've been working on.
(pressed leaf, painted papers, japanese & italian papers,
fragment of an old letter, two small metal beads,
15 x 15 cm.)
Heavens, Valerianna just reminded me of the storm - I'm a bit sheltered from news of it, I'm afraid.
Wishing everyone well who might be affected by it.
I've finished three more small collages, and have six others in progress. For the ones in progress, I decided I wanted to include something different. After coming across Karen's beautiful Etsy shop: Arte Bella Surplus, I went bead-mad and ordered a colourful assortment of glass beads, which I'm eagerly awaiting. As soon as I've completed them, I'll post photos.
(dried leaf; stone; antique letter fragments; stamp; hand painted papers;
Japanese and Italian papers; 15 x 15 cm.)
In the studio, I've been working on larger scale paintings for a show I have in a Ministry building here in Munich in March. It's a very big building with very big walls. So, I need to complete a big series of big paintings.
One thing I've learned about myself: when I'm supposed to be working on one type of thing, suddenly other types of things become so much more appealing.
(oil and cold wax on wood 30 x 30 cm.)
(oil and cold wax on wood 20 x 20 cm.)
This is a small series, of small paintings (30 x 30 / 20 x 20 / 15 x 15 cm.) It's done: I painted the edges black this morning. With luck, I'll be able to find a small venue for these.
On my cycle home from the studio today, I took photos of some of the melancholic walls of autumn I encountered.
Forgive me for wrapping this up with another Molly shot. Asleep in my lap.
I am not going to need a hot water bottle this Winter.