Sunday, 14 August 2011

Book Review - The Devlin Diary by Christi Phillips

Two murder mysteries and two love stories separated by more than 330 years. Two tales that are linked inextricably.
In 1672, a vicious killer stalks the court of King Charles II, inscribing his victims' bodies with mystical markings.
In Cambridge in 2008, a Trinity College professor is found dead, the torn page of a 17th. Century diary in his hand.
The two tales are written concurrently, but in such a way that they are not confusing, and you move seamlessly between the two tales as they begin to converge.
There is a slight, almost imperceptible difference in the way the two stories are written, and this helps you to keep them separate in your mind.
This is a well-written book, based loosely on known facts. It is a fast-paced narrative, and altogether, a most enjoyable read.

It's a sequel to Miss Phillips' 'The Rossetti Letter'. Think I shall have to go and seek that one out.......

Rating: a well-deserved 4/5

Friday, 5 August 2011

Antony Gormley

And while I'm in an artistic mood, how about my favourite modern sculptor? Antony models his figures on his own body, which gives them an incredible sense of life and realism. But there's so much more to his work than just the accuracy of his portrayals. The location of his figures is every bit as meaningful. This is best shown here:

This is Another Place, where his figures stand, looking out to sea. Search the internet, and you will find literally hundreds of photos of this installation, taken at all times of day, and from all different aspects. Each one seems to portray a different emotion and point in time.

Of course, Antony is best known for the remarkable Angel Of The North, which really needs no explanation or description

Probably my favourite - at least as far as atmosphere goes - is Sound II, in the crypt of Winchester Cathedral. When the crypt floods, as it often does, it imparts a very surreal stillness to the whole scene.

And now we have one locally. Hundreds of old nails taken from the restoration of Canterbury Cathedral, have been transformed into a 'floating body' by Antony, called Transport. Again, it is located in the crypt.

I could go on posting pictures of his work all day, and still not give it justice. If you're not familiar with anything other than the 'angel', I suggest you look on the web - there's hundreds of pictures, plus he has a web-site too

Time for another of my favourite poems..... my favourite poet, George Gordon Byron.

She walks in beauty, like the night
Of cloudless climes and starry skies;
And all that's best of dark and bright
Meet in her aspect and her eyes:
Thus mellowed to that tender light
Which heaven to gaudy day denies.

One shade the more, one ray the less,
Had half impaired the nameless grace
Which waves in every raven tress,
Or softly lightens o'er her face;
Where thoughts serenely sweet express
How pure, how dear their dwelling place.

And on that cheek, and o'er that brow,
So soft, so calm, yet eloquent,
The smiles that win, the tints that glow,
But tell of days in goodness spent,
A mind at peace with all below,
A heart whose love is innocent!

(It is known, that this poem was about his cousin, Mrs. Wilmot, whom he met at a party in a mourning gown of spangled black.)

Monday, 1 August 2011

Favourite paintings

I've always had a love of art, studying it at school, and later at art college. Can't paint now, as my wrists make my hands too unsteady, but it doesn't stop me loving fine art.
Thought I'd share with you some of my favourite paintings. I'll warn you though, I'm not one for realism and the old masters.

First up is Jack Vetrianno 'The Singing Butler'. I love the sense of wind and cold and movement. It's also quite a romantic notion - dancing on the beach, while the butler sings, and the poor maid catches her death of cold!

My friends Pat and Peter (The Old Black Dog, Uplyme) have this hanging in their dining room.

Next, we go to Salvador Dali, but not one of his surrealist weird things. This is 'Christ On The Cross Of St. John'. This used to hang in one of the classrooms at my school, and, although I'm not a Christian, it has always had a profound effect on me.............

Edward Hopper - 'Nighthawks'
If ever there was a picture which depicted loneliness, it is this one. Most people have seen it, but few know what it is - either in this form or one of its many parodies.

And talking of parodies, this is probably the best-known of the 'Nighthawks' parodies. This is Gottfried Helmwein's 'Boulevard Of Broken Dreams'. Again, the sadness in the picture is almost tangible.

Humphrey Bogart, Marilyn Monroe, Elvis Presley and James Dean - all great talents sadly missed.

More later.............................

More Jewellery

Finally, I feel like I'm beginning to succeed at this. I'm quite happy with some of the pieces I've produced lately, and I'm hoping soon to be good enough to market them. Here's some samples, anyway

gold butterflies and hearts on a silver chain

I really like doing chain maille. Don't see why it all has to be in precious metals though. This bracelet is a combination of silver and brass, of all things

And keeping to the theme of mixed metals, the above bracelet is made from stainless steel bike circlips, with a silver-plated and enamelled crash helmet.

A fun bracelet, this one is stretchy, one-size-fits-all, with Lucite calla lilies and leaves

and finally, the above is silver wire, strung with Honda 10mm mirror nuts and Czech glass beads. Soon, I will have a whole range of biker-oriented jewellery. Why shouldn't bikers be glitzy and fashion-conscious?