Wednesday, March 06, 2013

Unnecessary but appreciated thanks received.

In the last couple of months I've had some rather nice treats sent me, quite unlooked for, of the 'you really shouldn't have' kind.

Two of them were as thank yous for curating the Alphabet Soup exhibition over at Clive's Artlog.  Frankly, this is rather like thanking a cow for rolling around in a patch of particularly luxuriant clover; it was the exhibitors that made that as good as it was.  However, I'm not complaining. The first came from Shellie, who helped me with said curating anyway, so I don't quite see why she's thanking me at all.  It is Christopher Brown' s Alphabet of London.

This is a gorgeous book, small but heavy and substantial in the hand, sumptuously bound and printed, of lino cuts, each letter gets a double page, with one full page in colour and a number of separate black and white images.  It isn't an 'A is for...' type of alphabet though, there's no text or explanations with the pictures, but therein lies the fun, as you can spend ages puzzling out what they might be.  Needless to say they are all of things to be found in London, now or in the past, some are evident and some very obscure.  Some letters we drew complete blanks on,

'I' for example.

On 'J' we got, or guessed a couple,

I've included 'Y' because of the odd sea nymph personage in the right corner, which I remembered from walks with my old friend Fire Bird years ago when she was a Londoner, but why she was under 'Y' I didn't remember.

It was excellent entertainment, and there is a key at the end.  There's also a lovely section in the first part where the artist describes growing up in the city, which was very nostalgic for Tom who recognised much  of his own London childhood, and a chapter at the end about the making of the book, how he researched and walked and sketched, and the process of lino cutting.

It's a book I'd thoroughly recommend for anyone who knows and loves London even a little, or would like to do so more, or who simply loves very well made books and pictures.


The other gift, sent by Clive, were these knitted finger puppets by Francesca Kay (that's a link to the page for the puppets, but Francesca also has a very fine blog),

of Dracula and Jonathan Harker.  I had seen something of these gems of humour,wit and erudition at the Artlog, but it was a lovely surprise. Francesca says on the packaging - 

The inspiration for Literary and Knitted finger puppets came to me in a dream during a recent visit to the Opera. I awoke towards the end of Act II of Parsifal with images of beady woollen eyes and cylindrical knitted bodies swirling through my mind, encouraged by the gorgeous chocolate fountain of music...

She even learned how to knit in order to produce them.  The collage background is inspired, I particularly like the use of an old imperial typewriter for parts of it.  I love artists.

However, it then occurred to me that I had never in fact read Dracula. So Tom looked me out his old copy, which is over fifty years old.  He said when he first read it, he used to be a bit uneasy about how he held it, as he didn't really like having his fingers touching the artist's impression of the exsanguinating count on the cover.

Despite its being a fairly long and not very easy narrative to read aloud, it didn't take too much persuading to get him to read it to me, so that was how we spent several evenings last week (and quite a few odd after-lunch hours to boot) so thanks in turn to Clive and Francesca for providing not only the fun of the puppets and collage but also many subsequent hours of old-fashioned fireside entertainment too.


The final nice thing which which I really did very little to earn was an ACEO painting from Chloë at Slightly Triangle (ACEOs are very small artworks, of precisely 2½ by 3½ inches, in fact, the size of a playing card). It arrived with her characteristic careful and beautiful packaging, 

(the front of the envelope has blue-green paisley motifs stamped all round the edge too).

Chloë had contacted me a few weeks ago, wondering if I could track down a copy of French Cosmopolitan magazine from December, because they had featured one of her fabric and painted birds in a section on Christmas gifts, but had omitted to tell her so until a month later, when it was too late to order the magazine.  The website seemed to offer no possibility of ordering back numbers, so she wondered if I could help.  Eventually I was able to order one from the publishing group and send it on, and the page in question is up at Chloë's blog here.

So this is what she sent me for the favour.  In exchange for a copy of Cosmo in French and a couple of e-mails and phone calls, I get an exquisite and unique artwork by a talented young artist with a great future.  The exchange seems so out of balance that I ought to be squirming with guilt about it, but I'm really just too pleased.

I really am a jammy so-and-so.


Anonymous said...

That Alphabet book looks intriguing! :)

I'm so glad that you're pleased with the ACEO, thank you so much for your very kind words about it and thank you again or getting hold of the magazine for me! :)

Julia said...

No, I think you deserve some treats.

And it's as nice to give as to receive gifts, I am busy collecting little things like soaps and chocs and similar nice stuff to make up a few 'Hello Again, I appreciate you guys' packages to take back to the village in May.

I wish I were creative!

Lucy said...

Chloë, thank *you* very much!

Julia - thank you too, I do enjoy the generosity of the on-line world. You are clearly very creative - there are all kinds of ways to be, and all kinds of people who are. But there is something about the way 'proper' artists follow through their ideas and develop themes, and just don't ever stop being artists, that distinguishes them from the rest of us, I think.

Marly Youmans said...

All that was sweet... The Dracula puppets are wonderfully silly, and all the presents are so delightful--it's always a joyful thing to receive something someone has made. But I do receive something coming here, Lucy, and it may not be "one of a kind," but it is a kind of a one I like!

Anil P said...

The 'exchange' is not out of balance at all. You've an equally beautiful place here, a garden to visit in leisure hours wondering what one will find.

The Alphabet of London is a nice concept. Every country should try this out. It'd be fun to guess the illustrations.

Such lovely gifts. The puppet, the one with the teeth protruding out is intriguing.

Julia said...

Hello Lucy
This is me

Having a little trouble proving that I am not a robot :-)

Clare said...

I had to read Dracula for a course, and I got my husband to read a bit aloud to me so I could do something else at the same time (mending, or nursing the baby or something just as wifely). Unfortunately it was the scene where Jonathan Harker narrowly escapes seduction by the brides, and my poor husband was so horrified by the eroticism of it that he refused to read me any more!

Francesca said...

I am so glad you like Jonathan and the Count. I LOVE making the puppet collage cards, and it is a real pleasure to see one in its new home! Dracula is one of my very favourite books - how lovely to have it read aloud. I am very taken with the ACEO idea, which I haven't seen before - just right for very short illustrated poems perhaps? love from Francesca x