Thursday 28 August 2014

More from Miss M. E. Porter

Here are a few more works by Miss Margaret E Porter; ones that appealed to me.  The image of the lady and butterfly above also has a strong Art Nouveau feel but also reminds me of Aubrey Beardsley's work with the swirling patterns and strong black and white.
 This Rose design was just a little too big to fit on my scanner, but is symmetrical.
I liked the swirly pattern in the centre of this design.
The vines design is one of my favourites - it works really well and has a really good flow around the whole piece.
 Mother and child reading, again, an effective use of monochrome.
Slightly softer in feel, with a more three dimensional appearance for these flowers.  She was a very talented designer and artist.

Monday 25 August 2014

A Vintage Art discovery

This discovery happened when we went to a little Antiques market a couple of weekends ago, in Castle Square in Lincoln.  We looked round the stalls and saw lots of things we would like, in an ideal world, of course, but then, on one stall, I noticed this ink drawing in  a box, on top of a lot of other papers.
 It reminded me a bit of some designs my granny had done when she was at school, and was Art Nouveau in style, which is a style I really like.  We dug down into the box and found many more ink drawings and some paintings and works in colour.  They all had a number on them (15306) and most had a name and address, M. E. Porter, Sibsey, Boston, Lincs.  We picked out a few images we really liked and got ready to pay.  The stall holder told us that there were letters in the box too, and that M. E. Porter had undertaken a drawing course in 1916-1917, of which these were all part.  She said she had spent a happy evening reading the letters.  We were just going to buy the pictures we'd picked out when, on an impulse, we decided it would be a real shame to break up the collection, so we bought the whole boxful.
Having had a really good look through the work once we got home, we found that the illustration course was with The Practical Correspondence College, based in The Strand in London, and that Margaret Porter's tutor was Charles E Dawson, a well-known designer and illustrator of the time.  The V & A appear to have several of his designs for Jaeger in their collection, but sadly, no images are available.  In the box, however, there are examples of his work as part of the course and a design for Jaeger, which I'll post at a later date.
The course seems to have encompassed a wide variety of styles in order to prepare the student for commercial work. I think that this geometric design is carefully drawn out and well executed - it would all be done on a computer these days, of course!
Another geometric design.
 Miss Porter designed several candle shades (for examples of commercial shades click here) - I liked this one in particular, with its Japanese influence.
 A very Art Nouveau design.
 This poster reminded me of a Toulouse-Lautrec image, with the stippling effect for the hair and in the border.  Gladys Cooper (1888-1971) was an actress, initially in the Theatre, but today is probably best known as Mrs Higgins in 'My Fair Lady'. Later in her career, she was excellent at playing manipulative unpleasant older women, such as Bette Davis' mother in 'Now Voyager'.
 In 'Now Voyager'.
 Gladys Cooper in 1913.
Gladys Cooper with her children. (Photos courtesy of Wikipedia)
We also had a look at the 1901 and 1911 censuses online, to see if we could find out any more about Miss Porter.  We found out that she was born in 1892-1893, (depending which information we looked at), her father, Frederick, was a farmer and her mother, Kate and older sister, also Kate, lived at Main Street, Sibsey, Boston.  The letters show that she moved into Boston itself at some point and there is one addressed to Woodhall Spa, but whether she lived there, or was just visiting, isn't clear.  We think that she died in 1978, in Lincolnshire, but other than that, we don't know any more details about her life.  I would like to think that she perhaps worked in commercial art in some way.  I'll post more of her work in my next post...

Friday 22 August 2014

Colour in the garden

To help to forget about the rather unseasonably cold weather, here are a few photos of plants flowering happily outside.  This bright orange (I'm gradually starting to think orange might be a good thing in the garden) flower is Tithonia Torch which I grew from seed this year and which has finally started to bloom.
It is a very cheerful thing. 
 Here's another success from my seed sowing.  This is Malope Triffida Vulcan (a relative of the mallow).  This particular specimen is rather spindly and leggy because I left it too long before planting it out, but the flowers are fabulous.
 The colour is so bright.
 Even the buds are rather lovely. However, this plant is a magnet for slugs and snails and I only have a couple of these plants left, but I am really enjoying them.
 Hibiscus Syriacus Red Heart is flowering well too.
 I like the swirling pattern the unfurling petals make.
 Anemone Bressingham Glow is flowering really well this year with very tall stems.
My latest clematis (Clematis Heracleifolia Wyevale) is one which I absolutely love.  It is a herbaceous variety with tall strong stems and lovely bluebell-like flowers, which have a beautiful scent.
 Such pretty blue flowers.
 Finally, Crocosmia Princess for another burst of fiery colour.  I bought this at Newby Hall and it is a smaller variety but still packs a colour punch.  Yes, I am definitely coming round to the idea of orange...

Sunday 17 August 2014

May I introduce Mr Thomas Wilkinson Wallis of Louth?

We visited Louth museum last week, which is a very interesting place with a lot of things to look at, from Roman pottery to a Victorian wedding dress.  While there, we made the acquaintance of a very talented woodcarver, Thomas Wilkinson Wallis (1821-1903), who lived and worked in Louth itself (and, judging from the photograph above, possessed a fine Victorian beard too). Although an initial internet search didn't seem to reveal much (and I think that may be because I didn't spell his name correctly - oops!), Chris has found that actually, there seems to be quite a lot out there, such as the Louth Museum website and his autobiography as well as a carving in the V & A . His work continues the tradition of woodcarving using limewood and he is the natural successor to Grinling Gibbons, albeit a century or so later. (Apologies in advance for the blurriness and general poor quality of the photos - the lights in the museum made it very difficult to get a clear picture and my hands obviously weren't quite as steady as they needed to be! However, I hope the photos give you a reasonable idea of some of the work).
This amazing piece of work was created in 1871, using just two pieces of wood.
Here's a close up of the carving on the left, showing a detail of the wood, carved into with added knots, so that it looks more rustic, as though it is from an old gate or fence. 
He signed the piece at the base.
Here's the information the museum had about him (if you click on the photo, it should enlarge).
 This photo shows a piece he created for the Great Exhibition of 1851, called 'Trophy of Spring' which was three feet high and the largest he ever carved. According to the details, it is in a collection in the USA.  He won a medal at the Great Exhibition for this piece.

Replicas of the medals he received are displayed too.
Although I'm not that keen on the idea of dead birds, they do demonstrate his skill.  The birds are hanging from a piece of string tied to a nail and it is difficult to believe it is all wood.  I am so pleased we went to the museum, otherwise I wouldn't have been able to share some of his incredible work with you. Lovely to have met you, Mr Wilkinson Wallis.

Monday 11 August 2014

Back to felting

 It has been absolutely ages since I made any felt.  I was feeling so guilty because jewellery making and creating with polymer clay had totally absorbed any creative time I had. People kept asking whether I had made any felt and every time I answered in the negative, the guilt crept up on me again.  However, when I finally got round to making some felt, last week, I realised how much I had missed it. So, the piece above is in its pre-felted and fluffy glory and is made from wool from my sister's sheep with Lincoln Longwool (the wiggly white wool) on the top as decoration.  It was the first time I had used Lincoln Longwool, and it was lovely! Just in case you wondered what the sheep look like, here's a photo from the Lincoln Longwool website .
How they can actually see where they are going is a bit of a mystery, but they do have lovely fleeces.
So, what does the finished felted piece look like?  Like this...
All the wiggles stayed in the wool, which I was pleased about, because one of the joys of felt making is that the wool does decide how it is going to turn out, despite the maker's best efforts to persuade it otherwise, so you can never be totally sure how it will look once felted. This piece is going to be cut up and made into something for one of the blog swaps I am signed up to, but I will share the finished article with you once the item has arrived with my swap partner.  I am going to start felt making again more regularly - I really enjoy it.

I have signed up to another blog swap too with Blueberry Heart, one that I really enjoy and this will be my third time for this particular swap.  There's still time to join in if you would like to, just click on the link...

Sunday 3 August 2014

Garden catch up

 Here are the photos that I was going to upload but couldn't, due to the lost cable debacle. This is the hanging basket outside the front door, which cheers me up every time I see it.  The plants came from B&Q and I didn't really have high hopes for them but the growth and flowering has been fantastic.
 This petunia is particularly pretty and is scented too.
Here is a grown from seed Nicotiana 'Lime Green' which has also put on a lot of growth.  I wasn't quite sure what to expect as I haven't grown these before, but they were easy to grow and have turned into handsome plants.  
 The ever cheerful Helianthus 'Lemon Queen' - the first of many photos this year, I'm sure.
 Pretty pink phlox.
 Exotic blooms of Hibiscus Syriacus 'Bluebird', another flower which features on my blog every year.
 Zingy orange and yellow Crocosmia, or is that Montbretia?  The common one, anyway.
 Fuchsia pink calibrachoa in the hanging baskets at the back.
 New hydrangea flowers which remind me of tiny cauliflowers.
 A swirly, spherical seed head from Clematis Ice Blue.
The jury is out on this hydrangea - Magical Revolution - and I'm not sure it quite lives up to the hype.  The flowers were supposed to be amazing, turning different shades of pink, cream and green.  Yes, they have done that, but...I'm not sure.  
 The newest member of the garden, Clematis Blue Angel.  Pale lilac flowers with 'crenellated edges' according to the label.  I am a sucker for clematis and have quite a few now.
Finally, here's the Nicotiana 'Lime Green' flower, looking as lime green as the name implies and contrasting well with the purple geranium 'Rozanne' in the background.  Keep going, garden, you're doing really well!