Tuesday 30 September 2014

Ernst Kreidolf's illustrations for Der traumgarten - The Dream Garden - Switzerland 1912

I was introduced to Ernst Kreidolf's illustrations by Christa. She told me about his work after I had featured a Cicley Mary Barker flower fairy video on one of my posts.
Ernst's illustrations are not sweet and pretty like Cicely's but have a mystical, surreal, quality to them. However, all of his flowers, butterflies and insects are real and very recognisable. 
Whilst I was looking at Ernst's illustrations Burl Ives song from The Ugly Bug Ball kept playing in my head

  Once a lonely caterpillar sat and cried,
to a sympathetic beetle by his side.
"I`ve got nobody to hug,
I`m such an ugly bug." 

Then a spider and a dragon fly replied,
"If you`re serious and want to win a bride,
come along with us,
to the glorious
annual ugly bug ball." 

Come on let`s crawl
gotta crawl, gotta crawl
to the ugly bug ball
to the ball, to the ball
and a happy time we`ll have there
one and all
at the ugly bug ball

While the crickets clicked their tricky melodies
all the ants were fancy-dancing with the fleas
then up from under the ground
the worms came squirming around

Oh they danced until there legs were nearly lame
every little crawling creature you could name
everyone was glad
what a time they had
they were so happy they came

Everyone was glad! What a time they had!
they were so happy they came! 

Come on let`s crawl
gotta crawl, gotta crawl
to the ugly bug ball
to the ball, to the ball
and a happy time we`ll have there
one and all!
at the ugly bug ball. 

Then our caterpillar saw a pretty queen
she was beautiful in yellow, black and green
he said, "Would you care to dance?"
their dancing led to romance. 

and she sat upon his caterpillar knees
and he gave his caterpillar queen a squeeze
soon they`ll honeymoon
build a big cocoon
thanks to the ugly bug ball 

Come on let`s crawl
Gotta crawl, gotta crawl,
to the ugly bug ball
to the ball, to the ball
and a happy time we`ll have there
one and all!
at the ugly bug ball!

Ernst Kreidolf born 1863 - 1956 in Germany, an illustrator and poet but moved to Switzerland during WWl. Whilst he produced lifelike portraits, his work illustrating flowers, insects and butterflies are what he is best remembered for. He created a world in which every plant is animated and every garden inhabited by kindly generous fairies.

This is the caterpillar garden of Herr Hermelin, the white moth on the lefthand side. He visits the pen every morning before breakfast so that he can admire the caterpillars wonderful colours and designs and stroke their backs. He wants to be sure that his beauties are getting their favourite vegetation and feeding well. Although the gaudy caterpillars look as if they must be products of the illustrator's imagination, all of them are actually found in nature. Notice the dung beetle going about his business!!! and the insect flicking water over the caterpillars using a dandelion seed head.
The ringmaster wears Tiger Moths wings - Tiger Moth's bodies are very brown and furry like a bear
Solomon's seal and deep pink columbine both of which live in my garden. Without actually knowing the story it is difficult to understand exactly what is going on here.
Love in a mist - a flower I featured in a quiz
Shepherds purse - I used to love finding these heart shaped seeds when young. I am assuming that the young girl is learning the ropes from the senior Shepherdess.
I would love to find the book and read the stories, but  so far it has eluded me

Saturday 27 September 2014

"Mind the Gap!"

On a beautiful morning this week, we left our hilltop eyrie, parked the car, and walked down into the valley
past the old canal and 
  under the viaduct that carries the trains to London
H travels to London regularly doing consultancy work, but it is sometime since I was last in town. We owned a pied-à-terre in Pimlico when he worked for the UN. He would often be there during the week - I spent time there too. It was a place we both enjoyed staying in until our boys went to university, and then they kind of took it over!!! 
London has changed almost beyond recognition, lots of new contemporary architecture, old buildings have been cleaned and spruced up, there were many visitors enjoying the warm sunshine.
The poppy installation at the Tower of London, flows all around the 11th century moat and 'bleeds' from one of the tower's bastion windows.  It has and is attracting huge numbers of people from around the globe
It is 100 years since the outbreak of WWl and each poppy represents a British military death. By Remembrance Day on the 11/11/14 the last of the 888,246 hand-made poppies will have been placed in this ever evolving art installation - the next day the task of dismantling will commence.
When entering the Tower of London in King Edward l's reign (1272-1307) bravery was required. Passing under the fortified gate towers which were defended by archers, you might have heard the roar of lions as you crossed the causeways and drawbridges that spanned the water filled moat. 
Where these lions stand today are the ruins of the first drawbridge pit which led to Lion Tower. Big cats were still visible at the Tower until 1832 when they were finally removed to the new London Zoo in Regent's Park. When archaeologists excavated the pit in 1936 they found the skulls of medieval lions which were over 600 years old.
We were very keen to cross the Millenium Bridge designed by Sir Anthony Caro - Anthony's family were acquainted with H's family in Surrey when he was still at school
Just time to visit the Liberty shop
I always take the lift straight up to the top floor and browse the original Arts and Crafts furniture made by many collectible craftsmen such as Gimson, and the Barnsley Brothers, Archibald Knox and C.R Ashbee silver, Wm de Morgan pottery, and Wm Morris tapestries - it is like being in a museum, except that all the items are for sale. They also have one off pieces of contemporary furniture, glass, pottery, and silver made by up and coming young designers that I like to see
Looking up to the top floor in the atrium 
and then down 
Channel 4 were filming another Liberty documentary series. I remember seeing their Christmas Shop on the programme last year, but was shocked to see it was already in full swing, and what is more, people were buying. I am still in holiday mood, definitely Christmas is not on my mind
  glimpses of what the best dressed trees will be wearing

Perhaps I should explain the title of this post to those who have not visited London. As you alight from any tube-train "Mind the Gap!" announcements are made by a disembodied voice, an important warning to heed 

Wednesday 24 September 2014

Stokesay Castle

Stokesay is the best preserved fortified medieval manor house in England
Set in the now peaceful countryside near the Welsh border, the castle, timber framed gatehouse, and church form a picturesque group of buildings
The 17th century gatehouse is constructed in a distinctively Shropshire style featuring elaborate wood carvings including, angels, Adam and Eve and the serpent from the Garden of Eden
Through the gatehouse is the inner courtyard leading to the Great Hall which has remained totally unaltered since the time it was built in 1291
The Great Hall has never had glass in its windows apart from the small area to the left accessed by an outside stairway. This is called the solar - it is where the family had their private living and sleeping quarters. The glass in the solar was considered to be so valuable that it was all removed and hidden each time the family stayed away from their home 
During the winter months can you imagine just how cold, draughty, and damp it must have been in the Great Hall with the wind and rain blowing over from the Welsh Marches through these bare shuttered windows 
Stokesay's magnificent open hearthed great hall displays a fine timber roof considered a rare survival for the period, and a precipitous stairway, its treads cut from whole tree trunks. 
The remains of the central fire pit - there was no outlet for the smoke which would have drifted upwards into the roof timbers
The solar is one of the few areas that has been "modernised" since the medieval period. In 1641 fine panelling and a richly decorated fireplace overmantel were added. The overmantel was originally painted in five colours and with careful observation faint traces of colour can still be seen
the long steep climb to the top of the South Tower was worth making for the views