Ted Hughes ‘Snowdrop’ on the Shortest Day

 I can’t let bad news on Covid, narcissus fly losses and me griping about paying excessive prices on ebay (when no one is forced to part with their money) pass without offering something positive. So here’s a little poem for the shortest day.

Snowdrop – Ted Hughes  

Now is the globe shrunk tight 

Round the mouse’s dulled wintering heart. 

Weasel and crow, as if moulded in brass, 

Move through an outer darkness 

Not in their right minds, 

With the other deaths. 

She, too, pursues her ends, 

Brutal as the stars of this month, 

Her pale head heavy as metal.

As the globe has ‘shrunk tight’, predators weasel and crow struggle to survive in  winter’s dark, the mouse hibernates in the earth and, like stars in a cold sky, the snowdrop flowers, albeit ‘pale’ and with ‘metal’ for petal.

Moorcroft at Hodsock Priory this Weekend

Moorcroft, that quintessentially English pottery company is presently displaying its latest ranges at that most English of snowdrop sanctuaries, Hodsock Priory. You have only Saturday and Sunday to visit. The first pot here is specially made for the exhibition and I have taken a few images of the snowdrop/hepatica/winter themed ranges. There’s a lecture and demonstration in the morning and various experts on hand to guide you. We were all given a £50 money off voucher and there was a definite queue of buyers so it seems a commercial success. I didn’t part with my voucher however although I was tempted by the very large owl at the end. The ticket price of £4000 was admittedly a distraction. There were however other discounted pieces to tempt most pockets.

Central Park, New York: The Conservatory Garden, September 2017

New York was a huge surprise. We were charmed and excited by a city full of colour and vitality. I couldn’t live there, I doubt, given the pace of the place but there again there were areas of relative tranquility and inviting accommodation. The Conservatory Garden in Central Park was one of the biggest surprises, a slice of  English/French/Italian gardens in the heart of one of the world’s great cities. Originally opened in 1937 and based on a design by Gilmore Clarke, the garden was restored in the mid 1980s. The park itself was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1963.

View from Rockefeller Center

Three Dancing Maidens by Walter Schott

I had to get a skyscraper in

Burnett Fountain by Bessie Potter Vonnoh

Not one of the dancing maidens

Rik Poot: The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, Arendts Garden, Bruges

Bruges is a city of beauty and history that it is quite easy for us to visit taking the short ferry across the North Sea. The city is full of tourists. It is a tribute to the beauty of the city that it surmounts the numbers and remains a destination to which we return every two years or so. Bruges is not surprisingly a Unesco World Heritage Site. I occasionally feature art and on a day on which gales rage the land I seek refuge in the past. So here we are on the 18th April 2014, in central Bruges, behind the museum, the Arentshuis, and in the small park of Hof Arents where to one side of the hump backed bridge we encounter four bronze figures by the Flemish sculptor, Rik Poot. They represent the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse: Conquest, War,  Famine, and Death. I have not the slightest idea which is which. My first thought was that they represented Don Quixote, a stupid idea as I’m in the wrong country, the horse is certainly not Rocinante, the figure does not wear a hat and there is no sign of Sancho Panza. Other than that …. I am, despite my country’s decision to leave the European Union, a Europhile. I shall have to compensate for my fellow countrymen and women by visiting the continent more frequently.  I know rather more of Cervantes’ tale than of Rik Poot, but these are powerful figures.

Japanese Anemone Art

At this time of year the Japanese Anemone is a special plant, my own leaning being towards the white varieties. Here the Nottinghamshire artist, author and blogger, Ann Mortimer, captures the lush simplicity of the bloom completed in less than an hour!

Of course, the pink varieties make a good source for the artist as this watercolour from David Harmer demonstrates. David has his gallery in St John’s Village near Woking,

£250 will secure this delicate arrangement by well known Berkshire artist and author, Judith Milne.

You won’t be able to purchase the original but Van Gogh painted his bold still life, “Japanese Vase with Roses and Anemones” in 1890. It is possible to purchase the print however.

Working in southern Ontario, Marike used a palette knife to create this “mess“.

Crocus Art

As with snowdrops and daffodils, here is a quick perusal of art concentrating on that vibrant flower of spring, the crocus. Most of the works are still for sale, though not all. Artists always give their own impression and it has been interesting just how the flower has been depicted. Interesting too to look at the widely different prices. And my choice were I to embellish my study wall with one? Easy. Stanley Spencer. (The reason why his wonderful “Madonna Lilies” is included at the end.)

Tracey Allyn Greene – “Crocus, an Oriental Symphony”
Luiza Vizoli – “Crocus Flower – Spring Floral
Tracey Allyn Greene – “Crocus”
Jacqueline Gnott – “Crocus Family”
Janet Zeh – “Bewick’s Wren & Crocus”
Gail Niebrugg – “First Color” 
Theresa Shaw – “Crocus”
Micheline Ryckman “Crocus Purple”
Alethea McKee – “Spring Crocus”
Joann Perry – “Blue Crocus in the Snow”
Brigid Birney – “The Crocus Garden”
Vickie Warner – “Midnight Crocus”
Joyce Luiderween – “Purple Crocuses”
Ronald Egan – “Crocus”
Ben Young – “Blue Crocuses”
Stanley Spencer – “Crocuses” (1938)
Nora MacPhail – “Let the Gardens Begin”
Stanley Spencer – “Madonna Lillies” (1935)

Salford Docks Decline and Rebirth as Media City, Saturday 16th January 2016

I remember Salford from the days when my grandmother took me to see the Manchester Ship Canal. The canal connected Manchester to the sea and its terminal or starting point was Salford. It was in decline even then. The final dock closed in 1982. Reborn as Salford Quay it is now Media City writ large with the BBC and  ITV basing a sizable chunk of their operations there. Money seems to have followed with a multitude of apartment blocks and retail outlets, not to mention spin-off companies and a theatre complex containing the unmissable Lowry Museum. It was a day when the snow burst through just after I took the photographs. Colour had drained from the concrete, glass and steel edifices and yet they possessed a beauty in their reflections in the water. The spots of colour that existed were appreciated. Pity we were two of very few to enjoy the spectacle.

Daffodil Art

Are depictions of the bright yellow daffodil necessarily more brash than those of the subtle white snowdrop as featured yesterday? Utah-based Melody Greenlief commences this perusal of affordable art featuring daffodils in many guises with her Lanies Narcissus. Although bold, she captures the freshness of the narcissus and their delicacy.

Abstract Daffodils from a blog entry by Minneapolis painter Jill Van Sickle.

Gretchen Hancock from Nebraska has a number of daffodil paintings available for sale. I liked her White and Yellow Jonquils on Gray and her Single Daffodil Gold and Green. There is subtlety here all right.
To Minnesota now for an oil from Luiza Vizoli, whose heavily layered Daffodil Flowers is tactile even on a flat screen.

As with my compendium of snowdrop paintings, here is another Cicely Mary Barker work, this time a tapestry from The Tapestry House. Her ‘Flower Fairies of the Garden’ was published in the 1920s. At 24″x19″ it could hang in a room near you.
Jean-Pier Marchais has a number of paintings for sale at allartclassic and I really like Daffodils.
I seem to have featured a lot of a) women and, b) Americans in my survey, so here is a man from Poole in Dorset. Sean Curley paints in oils and I love his big flowers in Daffodil 1. So c), I’d buy this lush piece.
But back to women and America for this pastel landscape, Daffodil Hill from Linda Beach who paints and teaches in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Texas offers Kay Smith and another Daffodil Hill. And incidental to my theme is a cow from her blog. (Milk Cow Blues)
Heirlooms II by Karen Mathison Schmidt from north Louisiana is already sold and I am not at all surprised. 
The classy Daffodils at Tea by Barbara Schilling is one of my favourites and she has a good blog

Snowdrop Art

A selection of available images of snowdrops available for sale, or at least they were when I last looked. Here’s a few I liked. First is Shivering Snowdrops by Moira Ladd, the blue-grey shadow and looming flowers against a dark background adding a certain drama.

Lindsay J Berry’s pastel drawing Among Snowdrops has a light quality about it despite the full flowers. Snowdrops look best when viewed from a prone position!

Helen Absalom works in Brynmawr, Wales, the two snowdrops being the entry for her blog on Wednesday, 23 January 2013. The dark green and orange innards have impact.

Shelley Davies’ exquisite study is one of her Botanical Illustrations.

Snowdrops lend themselves well to greetings cards. Here is a neat example from Bubble Tree Design.

Cicely Mary Barker was one of the finest illustrators of fantasy in the first half of the 20th century, her fairies possessing a definite immortality in the art world. Here is one of the Snowdrop Fairies, some of her tiny cards still being available for sale on-line.

Sadly Anna Wilson-Patterson’s stylish Snowdrops in Brown Mug was sold last year, as was, strangely enough, her Snowdrops In Spotty Mug. Don’t despair though, Anna has sold a number of different mugs and of course their necessary snowdrop contents. I’m sure there is always a different mug should one require one.
A change of style with this offering from the Belarus artist Alla. I was looking for an oil and Snowdrops fits the bill though the heat of the studio seems to have opened out the petals. Alla’s work reminds me of those Russian master animators whose work I used to write about for all those years. Were I in the market for an oil on canvas this is the one I would choose. And I note it is still for sale ….