Cutting a Long Story Short


NAWE’s new website ‘Cut a Long Story‘ is finally live, and you can or will soon be able to find several of my stories on there to buy as single story ebooks. The fastest way to find my stuff is via my profile page. I’ve only got one story up at the moment, but I have loaded some others from Tales told before Cockcrow, which would otherwise be out of print, and should be live within a fortnight.

I’ve spotted some Arachne Press friends authors and poets, on there too, it’s early days but there are some interesting stories to be had.

What is slowing me up is the need for a really good image to go with the story – that I have permission to use. I’ve used my own photographs (some manipulated) for the one’s I’ve loaded but I’m a bit stuck. Any arty folk out there want to help out? All that’s on offer is gratitude and a credit! I need an illustration for The Knight Who Didn’t, and Tante Rouge in particular, and possible Glory, or Hope You can find extracts from these here. Get in touch if you are interested in coming up with a ‘cover’ image for any of them!

 

 

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The Historical Birthday-Tea Party March 16th


rosa bonheurAnd today, let’s put on our glad rags and celebrate

Rosa Bonheur
March 16th 1822 – May 25, 1899

Oh my dear sir, if you knew how little I care for your sex you wouldn’t get any ideas in your head. the fact is, in the way of males, I like only the bulls I paint.

Rosa was an outspoken feminist and a famous painter and sculptor of animals and she earned a living as an artist, winning awards, and became notorious for smoking in public and wearing  trousers – for which she had to apply for a license using the excuse that she needed to visit slaughterhouses to study animal anatomy. (True, but convenient; and as we can see from the picture, the trews were not confined to the abattoir)
Rosa was the first woman to receive the Légion d’honneur.

She lived with Nathalie Micas and after Nathalie died, with Anna Klumpke, who  was also a painter.

Rosa can definitely come to the party, and perhaps she can be persuaded to sketch a quick portrait of Jules and Elton… but she’ll have to smoke in the garden like anyone else.

Notes from a Permanent Exhibition


More (and the last for the time being, until I find time to go again) from my National Gallery series, but not so much about angels.

The National has two Filippino Lippi Virgin & Child paintings, one with St John as a child, 1480 the other with Saints Jerome and Dominic 1485: in each she looks washed out and exhausted, her head at exactly the same level of bowed, only her nose is slightly different, the nostrils flare more with St John, as though she is attempting to keep up appearances for the child-saint.

On the subject of children:

The Master of Osservanza Birth of the Virgin circa 1440

Aside from a newborn baby able to stand, over which we will draw a veil, in the left hand panel we have St Jerome being informed by a child that he has a daughter.  Nothing of the kind. If you look closely, Jerome is telling the boy he has a baby sister, and he is not at all pleased.

A veer away from the religious subjects to Cosimo Tura’s thoroughly modern Muse. This girl has attitude: her dress is incompletely laced, her legs wide, her fist on her thigh. her well-plucked eyebrows raised in contempt she sits on a throne bedecked (it is the only word) with golden dolphins with ruby eyes, a shell above her head. she wears flock and carries a branch of fruiting cherry tree. She looks like she’s escaped for a dungeons & dragons role play programme – a Lara Croft for the 15th Century.

overheard by an altarpiece:

Mother: Nearly done, sweetheart.

Just pre-adolescent daughter: How many more sections are there?

Mother: Sixty-six.

Stop counting and enjoy.

© Cherry Potts 2013

On the side of the Angels, Part 8: Memling


Another in a series of observations of early medieval paintings in the National Gallery London, an endless source of inspiration and amusement. Intended to show how I find stories in a painting, not my opinion of the subject matter nor its creator. Nothing replaces seeing the real thing!

Virgins and Children, with Donors and Angels

(Readers of this blog may know I have a bit of a thing for Memling.)

The ‘dead’ dragon curled like a whippet at the feet of St George is about to take a nip out of the back of the Donor’s knee. George has had to whip the Donor’s hat off at the last minute.  You can imagine the conversation in the studio

But Herr Memling, it is my best hat it cost me a month’s income.

Indeed Sir, but would you truly wear it when you bend your knee to the King of Heaven?

Compromise, in the hands of the artist, and in this case, St George.

The child beats time to the angel’s lute, and crumples  a leaf of his mother’s book; the old man leaves the garden.

She wears the same dress, sits in the same seat, is backed by the same material, holds the same child – but each virgin is her own self captured in that moment in time, not slavishly copied from the last.

The finished edge of the cloth that makes the cover of the cushion the child sits upon – a Flemish weaver’s eye for cloth, from a German.

The Donne Triptych

St John looks as though he expects the lamb to do tricks and it has disappointed him.

Come on Larry, he says, count to five for the baby!

The child waves delightedly at Mr Donne. One angel smirks as it plays the organ, the other offers the child an apple. St Catherine looks severe, impatient with  Mr Donne who seems unaware the child is there.

Look, she says, these tickets cost me a martyrdom, you could at least engage.

Barbara hikes her tower up to perform a momentary illusion in the surrounding landscape and places a solicitous hand on Mrs Donne’s shoulder.

Never mind, she says, he’s a fool, but I’ll look out for you and the girl.

The evangelist isn’t sure his magic trick with the snake in the cup is going to come off.  In the distance a waterwheel turns, and a cow grazes.

© Cherry Potts 2013

On the Side of the Angels part 7: Carlo Crivelli


Another in a series of observations of early medieval paintings in the National Gallery London, an endless source of inspiration and amusement. Intended to show how I find stories in a painting, not my opinion of the subject matter nor its creator. Nothing replaces seeing the real thing!

Annunciation with St Emidius 1486, Carlo Crivelli

More than anything this is a picture about architecture: the message is almost swamped by fine brickwork and terracotta tiles.

A convenient aperture in the cornice allows the heavenly light to strike the virgin’s forehead.

Gabriel turns impatiently from an importunate Emidius who clutches the model of a cathedral, and is no doubt claiming intellectual property on that aperture.

Not Now, Em says Gabriel. kinda busy, got the whole of life as we know it to change – your cathedral can wait a few centuries, don’t you think?

On a viaduct above, the business of buying a bird in a cage is transacted; on the steps behind the archangel a friar gossips with friends and a young child spies round the bannister – on Mary, through her window, perhaps.

Up the street, someone notices the glancing gold of the Word and shades his eyes against the glare.

The rug is rucked under Mary’s knees, another rug hangs from the balcony above stirred by the wind. A cucumber and an apple rest on the step in the foreground. There are doves everywhere, and an ostentatious peacock vyes for notice with the terracotta friezes.

© Cherry Potts 2013

On the Side of the Angels part 6: Pintoricchio


Another in a series of observations of early medieval paintings in the National Gallery London, an endless source of inspiration and amusement. Intended to show how I find stories in a painting, not my opinion of the subject matter nor its creator. Nothing replaces seeing the real thing!

Saint Catherine of Alexandria with a Donor 1480-1500, Pintoricchio  1454-1513

Her wheel is broken.

She rests the upright sword easily by its pommel on the rim, her hair is slightly disordered, as though she’s just got out of bed – despite the crown.

She doesn’t look impressed with the fat friar, who might be a Borgia. She tucks the border of the robe, and the book, into the crook of her arm, getting ready for something.

He is smirking, embarrassed into a fit of giggles – perhaps he has just farted.

© Cherry Potts 2013

On the Side of the Angels, Part 5: ‘Follower of Hugo van der Goes’


Another in a series of observations of early medieval paintings in the National Gallery London, an endless source of inspiration and amusement. Intended to show how I find stories in a painting, not my opinion of the subject matter nor its creator. Nothing replaces seeing the real thing!

Virgin and Child, Follower of Hugo van der Goes circa 1485

Gentle, intimate, devotional: the virgin can’t quite bring herself to look directly at her child, and he doesn’t look at her, staring off into middle distance, his lips open on a sigh, he rolls the beads of a crystal and coral (?) necklace – too many beads for a rosary? – and tangles his fingers in the cord.

She looks a though she will rest her forehead against his in a moment – feel the astonishing heat from his skin, breathe in the scent of him.

It feels as though he will pat her kindly on the cheek and turn away, his mind on things to come.

© Cherry Potts 2013