Tuesday, 29 October 2013

New picture!

I decided the old header picture was rather bleak, so I've changed it - has anybody noticed..?
Thought not. Woof!

Monday, 28 October 2013

'The Book of Illusions' by Paul Auster - review

I've just finished reading this beautiful, sorrowful book, for the second time.

The Book of Illusions is the story of academic David Zimmer and his desperate interest in the work of Hugo Mann, an obscure silent movie actor. Zimmer's interest is desperate because researching and writing a book about Mann is a distraction from the tragedy which has overtaken his own life.

The story of Hector Mann, his last iconic movies and his mysterious disappearance is told with a wonderfully engaging attention to detail and feels for much of the 321 pages to be the main thrust of the book, with David Zimmer's own story relegated to a thin thread. This is delicately done and must be deliberate, from a writer of Auster's ability. It works beautifully, depicting Zimmer's need to escape from his depression into the mystery of another.

Although the book ends with more tragedy, we are left with the feeling that Zimmer has gained a little hope, which will enable him to go on.



I won't go into more detail, I wouldn't do the book justice. I'll just say it's not heavy going either despite the plunge into fictional research. Although the story is sorrowful it has also given me hope, because I can see that my creativity works in something of the same way as Auster's.

I too use this technique, as described by one of my tutors at the University of Leeds. To create drama and empathy in your writing, take your main character and chase them up a proverbial tree, then throw stones at them. I then go one step further and chop the tree down.

It certainly works for Paul Auster in The Book of Illusions.  I just urge people to read this compulsive book.

Monday, 7 October 2013

Meret Oppenheim; the 31 Women number twenty-one. Her birthday is 6 October.

Swiss artist, 1913 – 1985 painter, sculptor, designer, poet

Meret Oppenheim in a still from
There is a famous work of Surrealist art called Le Déjeuner en Fourrure (Dinner in Fur), which consists of a teacup, saucer and spoon covered with gazelle fur. This is Swiss artist Méret Oppenheim's most widely known work and has been an icon of high Surrealism since 1936, to the constant dismay of its creator who regarded it as of minor importance. This creation pursued her all her life, although she later disassociated herself from Surrealism.

Dejuner en Fourrure was loaned to Peggy Guggenheim for the Exhibition of 31 Women in 1943.  Méret Oppenheim had no say in the matter, she was on the other side of the Atlantic, in her native Switzerland. She never agreed to participate in any exclusively female exhibition and even refused to condone the reproduction of her work in books about women artists. This wasn't because she felt that the battle for women's liberation was unnecessary. Méret was a feminist and the granddaughter of suffragette Lisa Wenger-Rutz, who'd been active in the Swiss League for Women's Rights and encouraged radical thinking in her daughters and granddaughters.

Méret said in a letter to her sister Kristen, when she was asked to take part in an all woman exhibition in Los Angeles, that she was concerned about the possible ghettoisation of art by women. She strongly believed that the creation of art had nothing to do with one's gender, but was a product of both the male and female sides of the artist's psyche.

Meret Oppenheim’s oeuvre is immensely varied, due to her penchant for experimentation. Although when pressed she called herself a painter, she seldom treated painting as any more important than other creative techniques. She absolutely considered art to be an act of creation with a naturally inspired spiritual element, not merely self expression. Her drawings are exceptionally confident, free and expressive. She crossed the boundaries between styles and genres, between fine art and design and between two and three dimensions, to create a body of work that might be abstract, surreal, symbolist, conceptual and/or expressionist, defying easy classification with confidence and élan.

Meret Elisabeth Oppenheim was born on 6 October 1913 in Charlottenberg, Berlin. Her father Erich Alphons Oppenheim was a German doctor, but in 1914 he was called up into the German Army. For safety, her Swiss mother Eva Wenger moved with her children back to her own parents’ home in Switzerland.

Thursday, 3 October 2013

For National Poetry Day - Thursday 3 September 2013... this year's topic/theme is water

The Road to Omalos

Take the road to Omalos and you may find

a wild herb valley where peacocks call

and terraced paths run with orange trees

down to a still lake where strong brown geese,

laud, ridge-toothed over a wild green pool

and the air is ablaze with the hum of bees.

The 31 Women Project

Circumstances have meant I've slowed down with my postings of these biographies. Five in August was a lot to complete anyhow! There are more to come, I haven't given up. 

I acknowledge I have missed out some important artists. They will appear next year on their birthdays so, amongst others, you can look forward to the glorious Leonor Fini and the redoubtable Louise Nevelson

Nevelson was incidentally the first of the 31 Women whom I heard of, when I was studying the foundation course at Maidstone College of Art in the year dot. I am so much in awe of her powerful creativity and determination that, while the research is un-troubling, I've found her biography very hard to write, but it will happen.

In the mean time, the wonderful Meret Oppenheim will be along in a couple of days and there will, hopefully, be another three before the end of this year.