23 July 2014

Arabian Nights

Still no time to do blog pictures, so instead here's a warm weather trip down memory lane. These illustrations come from one of my favourite childhood books, an edition of 'The Arabian Nights', 'selected and retold for children by Gladys Davidson with many illustrations in colour and in black-and-white by Helen Stratton', printed circa 1910 (although the publishers, Blackie and Son Ltd, reissued it several times at later dates, with variations on the tales and illustrations included). The book lived at my French grandmother's house, and it was one of my rules of holiday behaviour that it was the first thing I read on our annual visits. This book and, especially, the rather lovely Art Nouveau-influenced illustrations by Miss Stratton, represented escape  to another world, an exotic and magical place in which the landscapes, if not the plot lines, somewhat reflected the hot Mediterranean location of 'Villa Maite', as my grandparents' house was called. At the time, the likes of Dulac and Heathcote Robinson (in his romantic rather than his humorous work) were my favourite artists, and Helen Stratton was very much in the same mold. The extravagant gestures and  exotic costumes (those turbans!), the pleated and flowing drapery, the curling smoke and piles of gold coins and jewels, the endlessly blue skies, were all mesmerising. The oriental fashions, heavily embroidered and sequinned, appealed to my budding sartorial tastes, and there were other fascinating details- the heroines, so often in distress, all seemed to possess long, serpentine and untamed hair. No sign of combs or plaits! And so many of the characters dispensed with shoes and ran around on their improbable errands in finely-drawn, bare (although often bejewelled) feet, despite the obviously rocky and snake-infested terrain they inhabited. A fabulous and perfect realm of the imagination.

9 July 2014

Repeat Business

River: 1. a copious natural stream of water flowing in a channel to the sea or a lake, etc.
             2. a large and disparate group of veins in the legs, affected by a condition (varicosecausing them to become dilated and swollen and hideously visible when the owner attempts to wear a skirt without the benefit of tights, usually during the spring and summer seasons; thereby generally necessitating expenditure on a product  to disguise these veins, and consequential frustration when said product proves to be completely ineffective. An annual occurrence.

(Apologies for the reappearance of this drawing. Other business has got in the way of new work)