Blood Swept Land and Seas of Red.

Today is your last chance to see the major art installation Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red at the Tower of London, marking one hundred years since the first full day of Britain’s involvement in the First World War. Created by ceramic artist Paul Cummins, with setting by stage designer Tom Piper, 888,246 ceramic poppies progressively have filled the Tower’s famous moat over the summer. Each poppy represents a British military fatality during the war.
image

The poppies encircle the iconic landmark, creating not only a spectacular display visible from all around the Tower but also a location for personal reflection. The scale of the installation intends to reflect the magnitude of such an important centenary creating a powerful visual commemoration.
image

The millions of pounds which have been raised will be shared equally amongst six service charities.
image

Paul Cummins is an inspirational ceramic artist whose reputation has grown exponentially over the last few years, with a number of high-profile commissions both regionally and, more recently, nationally and internationally.

His bold, exuberantly organic flowers and vibrant glazes, combined with the raw presence of steel and wire, deliver arresting results.
image

Drawing on a myriad of inspirations and subconscious prompts from his life, experiences and his previous career as an architect abroad, Paul’s work is informed by a detailed understanding for aesthetic form and holds a commanding visual authority.
image

For this latest project, with Historic Royal Palaces, Paul was inspired by a line in the will of a Derbyshire man who joined up in the earliest days of the war and died in Flanders. Knowing that everyone was dead and he was surrounded by blood, the man wrote: ‘The Blood Swept lands and seas of red, where angels fear to tread.’ From this line came the idea for 888,246 poppies, one for each British or Colonial military fatality during the First World War.
image

Potters at Paul’s studio have been hand-making the pieces using techniques which were utilised by potters during the First World War.

Advertisements

Rene Magritte.

04-Rene-Magritte-The-Lovers-1928
René François Ghislain Magritte (21 November 1898 – 15 August 1967) was a Belgian surrealist artist. He became well known for a number of witty and thought-provoking images that fall under the umbrella of surrealism. His work challenges observers’ preconditioned perceptions of reality.
Decalcomania, 1966
René Magritte was born in 1898, in the province of Hainaut, Lessines. He was the eldest son of Léopold Magritte, a tailor and textile merchant, and Régina (née Bertinchamps), who was a milliner before she got married. Little is known about Magritte’s early life. He began lessons in drawing in 1910. On 12 March 1912, his mother committed suicide by drowning herself in the River Sambre. This was not her first attempt at taking her own life; she had made many over a number of years, driving her husband Léopold to lock her into her bedroom. One day she escaped, and was missing for days. Her body was later discovered a mile or so down the nearby river. According to a legend, 13-year-old Magritte was present when her body was retrieved from the water, but recent research has discredited this story, which may have originated with the family nurse. Supposedly, when his mother was found, her dress was covering her face, an image that has been suggested as the source of several of Magritte’s paintings in 1927–1928 of people with cloth obscuring their faces, including Les Amants.
golconde
Magritte’s earliest paintings, which date from about 1915, were Impressionistic in style. From 1916 to 1918, he studied at the Académie Royale des Beaux-Arts in Brussels, under Constant Montald, but found the instruction uninspiring. The paintings he produced during the years 1918–1924 were influenced by Futurism and by the figurative Cubism of Metzinger. Most of his works of this period are female nudes.
In 1922, Magritte married Georgette Berger, whom he had met as a child in 1913. From December 1920 until September 1921, Magritte served in the Belgian infantry in the Flemish town of Beverlo near Leopoldsburg. In 1922–23, he worked as a draughtsman in a wallpaper factory, and was a poster and advertisement designer until 1926, when a contract with Galerie ‘Le Centaure’ in Brussels made it possible for him to paint full-time. In 1926, Magritte produced his first surreal painting, The Lost Jockey (Le jockey perdu), and held his first exhibition in Brussels in 1927. Critics heaped abuse on the exhibition. Depressed by the failure, he moved to Paris where he became friends with André Breton, and became involved in the surrealist group. The illusionistic, dream-like quality is characteristic of Magritte’s version of Surrealism. He became a leading member of the movement after leaving his native Belgium in 1927 for Paris, where he stayed for three years.

Vivian Maier.

Sunday mornings are for strong coffee and culture. This morning I watched a film by flea market enthusiast John Maloof about the hunt to find out more about some old camera films he had come across. ‘Finding Vivian Maier‘ was a triumph. If you liked Searching for Sugarman, this is right up your street…no hang on it was born on your street and stole your milk.

Here is some more about the lady shrouded in mystery.

Vivian Dorothea Maier (February 1, 1926 – April 21, 2009) was an American street photographer, who was born in New York City and spent much of her childhood in France. After returning to the United States, Maier worked for about forty years as a nanny, mostly in Chicago. During those years, she took more than 150,000 photographs, primarily of people and architecture of New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles, although she travelled and photographed worldwide.

The great thing about Vivian Maier, is that we are seeing these accomplished images, but she never had any of these films developed. For some reason, this introverted, reclusive, talented woman is taking images that document life in 1950s New York, and in some cases in a journalistic way, yet didn’t show them to anyone. There are accounts from people that knew Vivian/ Miss Maier that say she had a sinister side to her personality, hoarding items, particularly newspaper clippings of sinister crimes.

I think the self portraits are particularly interesting and full of personality. Her use of composition in her colour films reminds me of what I would imagine Sylvia Plath’s ‘Superman and Paula Brown’s New Snowsuit’ would be like. Sinister and spectacular.

Here is a short film made by BBC for their Imagine series: