Sunday, July 31, 2011

An Interesting Post, With Free Summer Frieze.

Many moons ago, I wrote this post about graphics. It was about how the timeline stretches from early cave paintings to Blogging, and how a graphic travels through time, remaining long after we will turn to dust.
At that time, I was talking about my graphics, and how I live in a cave, but something new has happened.

This new thing pertains to my covers of graphics by CRM-MMM and Frances & Herbert. When one redraws these graphics, it forces one to analyse every line, and ask why it's there. Every line.
I don't pretend to understand the significance of the symbolism, I just hope I can do it justice.

The history of The Four reveals the story of their lives. If CRM-MMM's lives ended unhappily, Frances & Herbert's end was tragic.

Every line.

Covering these graphics is about as close as one can get to a past life; hands in tandem, working every line, moving together with a hundred years in between. With this particular cover of Frances's work, I felt it strongly.
It's like she is reaching from beyond the grave, placing her hand on mine and giving it a little squeeze, asking me to feel her pain.
And I do.

As promised then, another Summer frieze to cool the soul, to marvel at these graphic answers to un-remembered questions. To stare at the index of an id, and recognise nothing; as though one hundred years from now a descendant will stare at a DVD and wonder what it was for, and what message it contains. And they, like me, will not have a clue, but they will cry just the same.
Notes on the Frieze:
This frieze, designed and executed by Frances Macdonald, was definitely used in the Macnair's studio at 54 Oxford Street in Liverpool. The picture below was taken around 1899-1900, and I have photoshopped an impression of the frieze onto the black & white photograph to give a better idea of what it actually looked like.
The frieze design was probably used earlier around 1895-96, maybe for Dunglass Castle. It was drawn and painted onto brown paper, but has since been divided into a number of portions. These are held in various public and private collections.
Some information and a picture of an original piece here.
If you Google 'frances macdonald frieze' it will pop up in its millions from the poster-shop sites. I believe the last known sale of an original piece realised $47,559 at Christie's. Further info here.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Listen To Delta Sigma!

Friday, July 29, 2011

Not to Make Light of a Serious Situation. . .

You know it makes sense!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Passenger on the Sea of Eternity.

Are we all not passengers,
making our way to journeys end,
ticket in hand destined to be free
forever sailing this eternal sea.

Alan S. Pastonson

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Enveloped by the Mackmosphere...

This graphic is my cover of the carved wood panels that adorn the pulpit of the CRM designed Queen's Cross Church, Glasgow; now the home of the CRM Society.
The design is dated as 1899, and represents, I believe, the Dove of Peace, the Tree of Knowledge, and the Dove holding the Ring of Eternity.

A picture of the pulpit can be seen at Gerald Blaikie's wonderful CRM site here.

This design was somewhat repeated in a wall mural painted in 1901 at St. Serf's United Free Church, Kirkcaldy, in Fife.
The mural was described in the German Arts Magazine, DECORATIVE KUNST IX (1902), the design showed "The dove of peace and the tree of knowledge, the latter represented by three rings - good, evil and eternity"
A picture of the mural being restored from behind multiple layers of magnolia emulsion, shown above.

A 2004 description of the mural and restoration taken from the Glasgow Herald is reproduced without permission below:

A MASTERPIECE of decorative art by Charles Rennie Mackintosh has been discovered hidden beneath white paint on the wall of a church. The distinctive art nouveau mural, which is being described by astonished Mackintosh experts as ''extremely important'', has been uncovered on the walls of Dysart Kirk, near Kirkcaldy in Fife. Painted by Mackintosh, perhaps the most famous Scottish artist, at the height of his powers in 1901, it had been hidden from public view for about 80 years until recent restoration work in the church revealed its patterns.

The complex design shows the dove of peace, the tree of knowledge and three circles depicting good, evil and eternity, and closely resembles Mackintosh designs for the Queen's Cross Church in Glasgow. Last night, Morag Baker, an elder of the church who had proposed the investigation of the mural, said it had been known for many years that Mackintosh had visited the building and painted there, but it was generally assumed his work had been lost forever.

In October 1901, the artist visited Dysart and claimed expenses from his employers, Honeyman & Keppie. Other records show that a fortnight later the church paid the company (pounds) 10 in fees for some ''decorations''. It is thought that Mackintosh - who died in obscurity in 1928 but whose designs are among the most famous and popular in British art - was a friend of the minister or of a prominent member of the congregation.

It was thought that decades of redecoration with plain emulsion had obliterated the design. However Alan Ferdinand, a conservator hired by the church, has found that beneath that paint lies the original decoration in all its glory, painted in pale blue, green and black. Ms Baker said: "I had thought for years that in this mural we had inherited something special and now we have shown that it is very beautiful indeed." The mural design had been published in a German magazine in 1902 so we knew that Mackintosh had been here, and to find it under what must be 10 coats of white paint is extremely exciting. "I personally could not be more pleased, but in 1901 this mural was done for the people of Dysart, and it still belongs to them which is wonderful. "We need money for the renovation of the church and I'd like to think that people will be generous in their appreciation of this wonderful mural."

Professor Pamela Robertson, the chair of the Charles Rennie Mackintosh Society, said: "This is an extremely important rediscovery. The design is from Mackintosh's most creative period in the early 1900s and it was always thought it had been removed in the 1920s. What we need to do now is work out the links between Mackintosh and this small parish in Fife."

The Rev Tilly Wilson of Dysart Kirk said she found the rediscovery of the mural to be a moving event. ''A past generation commissioned it to the glory of God and as a visible witness of their faith,'' she said. ''They just didn't put it there just as a nice decoration - they asked Mackintosh to represent the tree of knowledge and the dove of peace to express their Christian faith.'' Dysart Kirk was built in 1874 and was originally called St Serf's United Free Church. It is now part of the Church of Scotland. Once the conservation work is completed, it is hoped to allow access to anyone who is interested in seeing the work.

Jim Swan, the chairman of the Dysart Trust, said: ''It's wonderful that the mural, which has been here for all these years, which no-one living can remember seeing, has now come to light. ''This is a huge bonus for the current regeneration of Dysart which will bring in tourists and international recognition. ''The fact that the congregation had the foresight to commission the work by Mackintosh means that it is still there for future generations to see.''

By Phil Miller Arts Correspondent, Glasgow Herald, 23 Jul 2004.

Monday, July 11, 2011

The Birth of Clarity.


Saturday, July 09, 2011

The Omega Quest.

Charles Rennie Mackintosh (CRM), to the best of my knowledge, designed four headstones / gravestones / tombstones. The only reason we know this is because the design sketches for three of them still exist.
There may be others for which the paper designs are lost, and if so, they are weathering away quietly, still beautiful and peaceful, unknown unto the end of time.

It is my quest to visit these four known markers of past lives, and pay my respects. I believe CRM designed these for family and friends, and trying to find the connection is an interesting investigation.
The closest headstone to visit, stands within the Glasgow Necropolis, which is a large Victorian Cemetery in the heart of Glasgow City.

This headstone for Alexander McCall, in the form of a tall Celtic Cross, was designed when CRM was 19 or 20 years old. His father worked for Alexander McCall and the commission came through that connection I believe.
The headstone has been vandalised on a number of occasions, not due to any CRM connection I think, but because it contained a bronze panel and commemorated a policeman.
My old mentor used to say " Never attribute to intelligence, that which is adequately explained by stupidity." The bronze panel would have been a target for metal thieves, and that it commemorated a former Chief Constable, would have been seen as some sort of revenge.
The Necropolis is obviously a magnet for Neanderthals & lowlife when darkness falls, and many of the headstones have been vandalised through the years.
A newspaper report on the restoration of the headstone is here.
Some views of the headstone below:
View from the front shown above.

Detail of the centre carving shown above.

Detail of the bronze plaque shown above. The original plaque has now been replaced with a fibre-glass replica.

Detail of the cross shown above.

Detail of the damage shown as a reverse view above.

Detail of the scroll carving on the sides of the cross shown above.

History and fate weave a strange fabric, embroidered by circumstance. Also resting within the Necropolis are members of the Blackie family, who ran the old-established Glasgow publishing house of Blackie & Sons, Ltd. We will be discussing the resting place of J. Alexander Blackie, his wife Sallie Gemmell, and memorial to their only son Robert.
John Alexander Blackie was the elder son of Walter Graham Blackie, and Chairman of Blackie & Sons from around 1906 to 1917.

Let's go back in time for clarity:
In February 1893, a Gentleman by the name of Talwin Morris answered a newspaper advert for the position of Art Manager within Blackie & Son.

He got the job.

In May of that year Talwin and his wife Alice, moved north to Glasgow to a house named Dunglass Castle on the North shore of the Clyde near Bowling, and Talwin started work for Blackie & Son Ltd.
Previously, Alice and Joseph, her Father, had discovered Dunglass Castle on an earlier house-hunting expedition, possibly inspired by this newspaper advert:

Talwin and Alice became acquainted with the Macdonald Family. It would be nice to think this happened by way of Charles Macdonald, the Lawyer brother of Margaret & Frances, who became a close friend of Talwin.

Sans Clarity Insertion Update 26th Oct 2011.
It is more likely that Talwin was introduced to Francis H. Newbery, the Headmaster of the Glasgow School of Art, by the R.B. in the job advert, the R.B. being Robert Blackie (1820-1896), brother of Walter Graham Blackie (1816-1906), and uncle of John Alexander Blackie (1850-1918) mentioned above.
Once acquainted with Francis H. Newbery, exposure to the work of the Macdonald Sisters, J. Herbert McNair, and CRM would have followed.
Robert was a Governor of the Glasgow School of Art and would have been 73 years old when he interviewed Talwin. Robert handled all the Artistic matters of the publishing business having been trained as an artist by Mr. W.L. Leitch.
With their common interest in Art, Talwin was attracted by the work the Macdonald Sisters were undertaking in their Hope Street Studio, and in due course was introduced to both Charles R. Mackintosh and J. Herbert McNair, and they all became friends.
Talwin obviously knew the firms Bosses, John Alexander Blackie and his younger brother Walter Wilfrid Blackie. Walter Wilfrid Blackie at this time around 1901, lived in Dunblane, and wanted to move closer to the firms offices in Glasgow. Talwin must have been party to this, possibly only as conversation, but decided to introduce his architect friend CRM to Walter Wilfrid Blackie with the aim to discuss the design and building of a house for the family.
This house was destined to become The Hill House in Helensburgh, a CRM masterpiece.
Talwin Morris then, played a pivotal role in the destiny of CRM. But what of the resting place of John Alexander Blackie in the Necropolis? Where does this come into the story.

Talwin Morris designed the headstone which marks the resting place of John Alexander Blackie, but I don't think it was designed for John, but for Sallie his wife.
His Australian wife Sallie died in 1910 aged around 48. I have not found any information regarding the reason for her demise, but John must have had Talwin design the headstone either because he knew Sallie liked Talwin's designs or/and because he was looking forward to his future burial in that same plot.
And thus we have the headstone below, with a carved stylised butterfly signifying resurrection, placed within an inverted teardrop. The text also looks like Talwin's design. It is possible that Talwin's wife Alice, who was an Authoress, and Sallie may have been friends, as they were probably the same age. That is a possible connection for the commission.

A view of the headstone above.

A clearer view of the inscription on the headstone above.

A detail of the carving shown above.

A wider view shown above.

The pivotal role that Talwin played in the destiny of CRM was paid back one year later in 1911, when Talwin passed away. At the request of Alice, now Talwin's widow, CRM designed the headstone for Talwin. The only man on the planet worthy of such an honour.
Talwin was laid to rest in Dumbarton Cemetery and this will be the next part of my Omega Quest; when time, tide and tears allow.
Thank you for joining me on this quest.

Monday, July 04, 2011

Happy 4th July!

Please accept this graphic amalgamate on this important date.