Wearing vermilion

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All day I’ve noticed
folk wearing vermilion,
but still, since summer,
most of us have been wearing
this year’s fashion colour – black.

(Friday 13 March 2015)

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NOTES:

“Vermilion is a brilliant red or scarlet pigment originally made from the powdered mineral cinnabar, and is also the name of the resulting color. It was widely used in the art and decoration of Ancient Rome, in the illuminated manuscripts of the Middle Ages, in the paintings of the Renaissance, and in the art and lacquerware of China, where it is often called ‘Chinese Red’.” (Wikipedia)

See also: Pigments through the Ages

Mixed media collage

Two shots here, separated by about six months. A fascination with corrugated iron is the most obvious visual connection, but there are aspects of an aesthetic which some might identify as grunge – although I am not really a fan of Pearl Jam, Nirvana, or other grunge bands. Look at the work of New Zealand sculptor, Jeff Thomson, and you might get some insight into the fascination.

mixed media (29 August 2014)

mixed media (29 August 2014)

mixed media (07 February 2015)

mixed media (07 February 2015)

Repaint your city

repaint your city

repaint your city

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Urban environments offer me the possibility to explore my own sense of space. In doing so, light always triggers me. I’m fascinated by the way light is able to change the geometry of a certain space, which looks different one minute to the next, offering new geometric shapes all over again. (Wilma Eras, on her blog, Erassima)

A photographer friend commented to me recently: “Not many people can appreciate abstracts.” As one strongly attracted to abstract photography – and to abstract art in general – I’m not convinced he’s right. But then, the term “abstract” has different meanings for different people.

“Abstraction exists along a continuum” – as the Wikipedia article on abstract art so succinctly puts it. For me, Rudolph Arnheim’s pithy summation works equally well in relation to abstract photography: “Abstract art uses a visual language of form, color and line to create a composition which may exist with a degree of independence from visual references in the world.” (Rudolph Arnheim, in Visual Thinking)

The proliferation of internet-based photo-media makes it increasingly easy for anyone who, like me, has greedy eyes to spend hour after hour in front of a computer screen. But I do have my favourites.

From time to time I look in on Erassima, the blog of Wilma Eras – who hails from the Netherlands. Responses to her image, “repaint your city”, include the following from Richard Guest: “Lovely balance between abstraction and physicality – I really like them!” That balance is something I really value, too.

In February this year, a blog calling itself Red Square Gallery featured a folio of photos Wilma described as “Urban scenes painted by shadows.”

Graffiti, tags and street art seem to be among the current hot attractions for photographers. But few of them seem keen to engage explicitly in the ongoing anger-charged discourse on the subject of “tagging as vandalism”. But that is another topic … for another post.

We can’t all be right … or can we?

vast emptiness nothing holy

vast emptiness nothing holy

I have more than a few friends who all seem desperately to need to be right. Each and every one of them has a favourite topic – a hobby-horse – and an incontrovertible line of argument.

And well-thought-out opinions, in fact, on every subject, whether crucial or trivial.

But they don’t agree among themselves … and not one of them agrees with me.

There must be some over-arching or all-embracing truth somewhere, but the only thing I’m sure about is that I haven’t got it sussed.

It would appear that the “grumpy cat avatar” has become a sacred icon, an oracle, the mouthpiece of truth. Click on him and you’ll find he redirects to a painting by Seki Seisetsu (1877-1944), which features the same text.

And when you’re done with that, you might look at a piece about some famous words of Seng-ts’an: “Do not seek the truth; only cease to cherish opinions.”

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“Do you ever doubt your own ideas? All the time. You should read what happens in linguistics. I keep changing what I said. Any person who is intellectually alive changes his ideas. If anyone at a university is teaching the same thing they were teaching five years ago, either the field is dead, or they haven’t been thinking.” (Noam Chomsky)

Art: think you’ve got it taped?

tape art (22 Feb 2013)

tape art in Civic Square (22 Feb 2013)

“Street art team Erica Duthie and Struan Ashby have extensive international experience creating temporary murals made from masking tape,” according to The New Zealand Herald‘s on-line Event Guide.

Each day from 20 to 25 February 2013 – as part of the Fringe festival – the two tape-wielding storytellers worked their way around a cube in Wellington’s Civic Square. The work was in constant flux as figures were drawn, removed and re-drawn as the narrative developed.

It was late in the afternoon as I wandered through with my camera, and the terracotta bricks were all but deserted.

Tape Art is an original and playful art medium that relies on the simple idea that tape can be manipulated to form expressive drawing lines. Our works have explored many themes, but are always figurative, often telling stories with open metaphors. (Tape Art NZ)

From your Valentine

Antique Valentine (1909)

Antique Valentine (1909)

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I’ll love you, dear, I’ll love you
Till China and Africa meet
And the river jumps over the mountain
And the salmon sing in the street.

(WH Auden, in As I Walked Out One Evening, 1935)

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Saint Valentine’s Day – also known as the Feast of Saint Valentine – is an official feast day in the Anglican Communion, as well as in the Lutheran Church.

At last count, there were as many as three saints named Valentinus associated with 14 February, and up to eleven commemorated by the Roman Catholic Church on various days. But in the 1969 revision of the Calendar of Saints, the feast day of Saint Valentine was removed from the General Roman Calendar and relegated to local and regional calendars. (adapted from Wikipedia)

The Wikipedia article also explains that “The day was first associated with romantic love in the circle of Geoffrey Chaucer in the High Middle Ages, when the tradition of courtly love flourished. By the 15th century, it had evolved into an occasion in which lovers expressed their love for each other by presenting flowers, offering confectionery, and sending greeting cards (known as valentines).”

With Lent falling so early this year (Ash Wednesday yesterday), roses and chocolate might seem frivolously at odds with spiritual practice – but the florists and confectioners are counting on the commercialisation of courtly love.

No third thing

… experiencing runs of bad luck is part of life’s rich pattern. The key thing is to see them for what they are: an entirely predictable consequence of unpredictability. (Robert Matthews, in Matt’s stats: Why disasters come in threes

Three sisters

Three sisters

This morning, I carelessly lit a votive candle and placed it on a lacquered cabinet. If I hadn’t (later in the morning) noticed a smell of burning, there might have been a fire.

This morning, I opened my front door carelessly, and a boisterous wind-gust slammed it on my finger. If I hadn’t been quick to pull my hand away, there might have been a bruise.

So far this morning, there is no third thing. Before long, of course, there will be the next thing. Life being what it is, there is always the next thing – whether fortunate or unfortunate.

Perhaps the “rule of threes” helps divide the ongoing stream of mishaps, misadventures, miseries and demises into manageable chunks.

When a light-bulb blows, I tend to buy three … after replacing the old one from the ample stock I already have in the cupboard under the sink.

To end, here – courtesy of Wikipedia’s Rule of three (writing) – is a nice little Latin motto “omne trium perfectum” (everything that comes in threes is perfect, or, every set of three is complete).

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Thanks to The Book of Threes, which reports that “The ancient Native American technique of growing Corn, Beans, and Squash together in an arrangement called the Three Sisters is the ultimate in companion planting and helps increase harvests, naturally!” 

For readers who suspect a veiled Monty Python reference, here’s a link to the Comfy Chair / Sound Quiz from “Another Monty Python Record”.