Circe and the Dawn of a New Age

circe-bertram-mckellarAustralian sculptor Sir Edgar Bertram Mackennal was born on 12th June 1863 in Fitzroy, an inner city suburb of Melbourne. Mackennal studied at the National Gallery from 1878 -1882. He then left to study in London, where he shared a studio with Charles Douglas Richardson and Tom Roberts.

In 1884, Mackennal visited Paris for further study and married a fellow student, Agnes Spooner. On returning to England, Mackennal was appointed head of modelling and design at the Coalport Potteries, Shropshire in early 1886.

  • In the same year he won a competition for the sculptured reliefs on the front of Parliament House, Melbourne.
  • While in Australia, Mackennal obtained commissions, including the figure over the doorway of the Mercantile Chambers, Collins Street, Melbourne.

In 1893, Mackennal had his first success when his full-length figure “Circe“, now at the National Gallery of Victoria, (pictured above) obtained a “mention” at the Old Salon and created a good deal of interest. It was exhibited later at the Royal Academy where it also aroused great interest, partly because of the prudery of the hanging committee which insisted that the base should be covered. Because of this, commissions began flowing in, among them being the figures “Oceana” and “Grief” for the Union Club, Sydney.

bertram mackennal - dawn of a new ageAbove is: “Dawn of a New Age” (1924) Bronze; – Art Gallery of NSW, Sydney.  (Gift  of Mrs. D.V. Ritchie, 1951) Diploma work accepted 1924, by the Royal Academy –  who accepted Mackennal’s Diploma work. He was already a successful and highly sought-after sculptor in Britain and Australia at this time.

Other accolades include:

  • The British 1½d stamp of 1912 which was based on the Mackennal portrait of King George V.
  • Being the 1st Australian artist to be knighted, McKennal was created a Knight Commander of the Victorian Order in 1921, and was elected to the Royal Academy in 1922.

Sir Bertram Mackennal died suddenly from the rupture of an abdominal aneurysm at his house, Watcombe Hall near Torquay, Devon on 10 October 1931.

He is survived by Lady Mackennal and their daughter.

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No need to be frugal when you come across a Bruegel


(Above: The Peasant Wedding (1567) oil on panel 114x164cm, Vienna Kunsthistortisches Mueseum, Vienna).

Pieter Bruegel the Elder was a Flemish Renaissance painter and print maker known for his landscapes and peasant scenes and sometimes referred to as the “Peasant Bruegel“.

He was born c. 1525 in a town near Breda. The main source for Bruegel’s biography is from Karel van Mander’s Schilder-boeck (1604).

He was an apprentice of Pieter Coecke van Aelst, whose daughter Mayken he later married. He spent some time in France and Italy, and then went to Antwerp, where in 1551 he was accepted as a master in the painter’s guild. He received the nickname “Peasant Bruegel” or “Bruegel the Peasant” for his practice of dressing up like a peasant in order to socialize at weddings and other celebrations, thereby gaining inspiration and authentic details for his genre paintings.

bruegel111(The Wedding Dance ca 1566 – oil on oak panel, Detroit Institute of Art).

Although Bruegel often painted scenes of carousing and community gatherings, he often  depicted people with disabilities. The majority of Bruegel’s paintings have many different actions occurring at once such as the example in The Peasant Wedding where he painted both individual and  identifiable people.

He died in Brussels on 9 September 1569 and was buried in the Kapellekerk.

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All Hale this anniversary of Noel Hallé

noel-halleAbove: A lady entertaining a child of a Savoyard warden with a pinwheel (oil on panel 19.7×25.4cm) .

The artist of this painting is Noel Hallé.  Hallé was born in Paris, on September 2, 1711. He was a French painter, draftsman and print-maker, born into a family of artists; and the son of Claude-Guy Hallé. Noel took the Prix de Rome Award  in 1736.

Among his works Noël Hallé includes:

  • The Death of Seneca,
  • Cornelia,
  • Mother of the Gracchi; and
  • The Justice of Trajan.

 Noël Hallé died on June 5,  1781.

Vale Hallé until we meet another day.

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Leighton’s Place in Art is Sealed with a Kiss

edmund blair leighton - alain chartierThe above painting is of “Alain Chartier sharing a famous kiss bestowed by Margaret of Scotland (Chartier, a French poet and political writer, was born c. 1385 in Bayeux, France, and died c.1430 and 1446).

About the artist:

Edmund Blair Leighton (born in London, 21 September 1852 – died 1 September 1922) was an English painter of historical genre scenes, specializing in Regency and medieval subjects.

  • He was the son of the artist Charles Blair Leighton and educated at University College School, before becoming a student at the Royal Academy Schools.
  • He married Katherine Nash in 1885 and they had two children, a son and a daughter.
  • Exhibiting annually at the Royal Academy from 1878 to 1920, he produced highly-finished, popular and decorative pictures, displaying romanticised scenes.
  • Although exhibiting for over forty years, Leighton was never an Academician or an Associate.
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So who designed the true coat of the Chester Blue Coat?

blue coatThe Blue Coat Hospital, is the site of a medieval hospital originally known as  St. John the Baptist, located at Upper Northgate Street, in the English city of Chester,  Cheshire.

The Blue Coat Hospital was founded by the Bishop of Stratford (1700) to house and educate the poor boys in religion and learning. Despite its ‘Blue Coat Hospital name‘, it was a boy’s school, rather than an hospital where the students learned their four ‘R’s’: “reading, ‘riting, ‘rithmetic and religion.”.

To qualify as a “Blue Coat“, parents had to prove that they had not enough money to send their sons to regular boarding school. Then, once qualified, their son was dressed in the distinctive blue uniform that represented The Blue Coat.

So who designed the true coat of the Chester Blue Coat on the edifice of this building?

The answer is, I still do not know


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Compare the Pair #14: Cagey Keiji’s Poorman’s Voormann

32beatles-revolverRevolver was released in the UK 50 years ago on 5th August 1966. It was released 3 days later in the US. Revolver is considered to be The Beatles psychedelic rock album, it lives up to this title with its track “Tomorrow Never Knows” which featured tape loops, backward recordings, using vari-speedings, reversed tapes and close audio miking which led to the invention of Automatic Double Tracking(ADT) – a technique invented by Abbey Road Studio engineers.

Album tracks include: Taxman, Eleanor Rigby (featuring a classical string octet), I’m Only sleeping, Love You To, (with its Indian music backing) Here There and Everywhere, Yellow Submarine, She Said She Said, Good Day Sunshine, And Your Bird Can Sing, For No One, Doctor Robert, I Want To Tell You, Got To Get You Into My Life, Tomorrow Never Knows”.

Tomorrow Never Knows“was adapted from Timothy Leary’s book ‘The Psychedelic Experience: A Manual Based on the Tibetan Book of the Dead‘.  It was this song that influenced Klaus Voormann’s cover art for the album.

Voormann received a Grammy Award for the Best Album Cover, Graphic Arts Award in 1966. Voorman combined his four large line drawings with a collage of photos by Bob Whitaker (who shot the infamous “Butcher Cover” for The Beatles Yesterday and Today LP. His spacey collage of drawings and photos complemented the songs that reflected the group’s LSD experiments during its production.

Klaus Voormann (born on 29 April, 1938) is a German-born bassist, record producer and artist whom The Beatles met in their Hamburg days in the early 1960s.  He was a bassist for Manfred Mann’s band from 1966-1969 and produced Trio’s hit “Da Da Da” in the 80s.

32ito - black magical mystery tourAbove:  “Black Magical Mystery Tour” 2010 Shinko Music Entertainment E-book, analog collage and drawing 31.5×31.5cm.

The artist is Keiji Ito born in 1958 in Tokyo, Japan. He is the Director of Unidentified Frying Graphics Inc and a guest lecturer and Professor of Art and Design at Kyoto University of Art. His main works include: painting, collages, art direction and art work for advertisements, books, music CD sleeves, video clips, etc. Some examples of his work include:

  • Cover art works in Japanese magazines such as BRUTUS and Cut
  • Art direction or art work of CD sleeves for BONNIE PINK, Orange Pekoe
  • Book list: ‘Sunshine Girl Meets Gravity Boy‘ (UFB). More information about Keiji Ito can be found at this website or his Facebook page.
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Partake in a Stake of the Great William Blake

william blakeEnglish painter, poet and print-maker, William Blake (b. 28 November 1757 – d. 12 August 1827) was largely unrecognised during his lifetime. He was born in Soho, London, the third of seven children; and left school at the age of ten. He was later to continue his education at home by his mother.

Drawn towards art, Blake started engraving copies of drawings of Greek antiquities and classical forms through to the works of Raphael and Michelangelo. It was during this time that Blake made explorations into poetry.

william blake anteaus1Despite joining the Royal Academy in 1779, Blake despised its director Joshua Reynolds. During his 6 year tenure, he rebelled against what he regarded as the unfinished style of fashionable painters such as Rubens, championed by Reynolds.  Although Blake came to detest Reynolds’ attitude towards art, especially his pursuit of “general beauty” he exhibited on six occasions between 1780 and 1808.

Left: Antaeus Setting Down Dante and Virgil in the Last Circle of Hell (illus. from “The Divine Comedy” by Dante Alighieri). Blake has used pen and ink; and watercolour over pencil and black chalk; with sponging and scraping to achieve this outcome.

Blake met and married Catherine Boucher on 18th August, 1782 at St Mary’s Church, Battersea. Despite her illiteracy, Blake taught her to read, write and become an engraver. Thereupon she became an invaluable aid, helping to print his illuminated works and maintaining his spirits throughout numerous misfortunes. In turn, she helped him colour his printed poems.

In 1788, aged 31, Blake experimented with “Relief Etching,” a method he used to produce most of his books, paintings, pamphlets and poems. The process is also referred to as “illuminated printing.” This involved writing the text of the poems on copper plates with pens and brushes, using an acid-resistant medium. Illustrations appeared alongside words in the manner of earlier illuminated manuscripts. He then etched the plates in acid to dissolve the untreated copper and leave the design standing in relief. This is the reversal of the usual method of etching, where the lines of the design are exposed to the acid; and the plate printed by the intaglio method.

Blake used illuminated printing for most of his well-known works, including his more  famous written poems: “The Lamb”, “The Tyger” and “Songs of Innocence and of Experience”, as well as “The Book of Thel” and “The Marriage of Heaven and Hell.”

In 1800, Blake moved to a cottage at Felpham, in Sussex (now West Sussex), to take up a job illustrating the works of William Hayley, a minor poet. It was in this cottage that Blake began Milton from 1804-1808. The preface to this work includes a poem beginning “And did those feet in ancient time“, which became the words for the anthem “Jerusalem“.

Blake returned to London in 1804 and began to write and illustrate “Jerusalem” which became his most ambitious work; having conceived the idea of portraying the characters in Chaucer’s “Canterbury Tales.”

william blake - vala hyle & skofeldAbove – “Vala, Hyle & Skofeld” (Plate 51, from Jerusalem ca.1820, relief etching, white-line etching printed in orange ink with watercolour pen and ink and gold paint).

Jerusalem was the last and the longest of Blake’s Prophetic Books. It tells of the struggles of Albion and his female counterpart Jerusalem; and their fall and final redemption through Christ. Here Vala, shown crowned, represents the fallen Jerusalem overcome; and incarcerated in the fiery depths of absolute despair. Her companions are Hyle, and Skofeld.

william blake - dante running from the 3 beasts(Above: Dante running from the three beasts).

The commission for Dante’s Divine Comedy came to Blake in 1826 with the aim of producing a series of engravings. Blake’s death in 1827 cut short this enterprise, and only a handful of watercolours were completed; and because of this, Blake’s intent may be obscured. It is said that Blake’s central preoccupation was his feverish work on the illustrations to Dante’s Inferno; where he is said to have spent one of  his last shillings on a pencil to continue sketching.

On the day of his death, on 12 August, 1827, Blake worked relentlessly on his Dante series. Eventually, it is reported, he ceased working and turned to his wife, who was in tears by his bedside. Beholding her, Blake is said to have cried,

Stay Kate! Keep just as you are
I will draw your portrait
for you have ever been an angel to me.

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San Marco Basilica, the Church of Gold

st marks basilicaThe Basilica of St. Mark (San Marco) in Venice, Italy has stood since 829 in the time of Doge Giustiniano Partecipazio who had it built to hold the remains of the Evangelist St. Mark who became the one patron of the city. It became the Basilica of St. Mark with its shape derived from the Basilica of the Twelve Apostles in Constantinople – one of the wonders of Byzantine architecture. It was destroyed by fire in 927 and rebuilt in the same architectural form that it has today by Doge Domenico Contarini between 1043-1071.

venice - basilica of st mark baptisteryThe Baptistery has stood since 1350 from the time of Doge Andrea Dandolo. In the middle is the great baptismal pool by Tiziano Minio, Desiderio da Firenze and Francesco Segala (1545); the latter made the statue of St. John the Baptist which was cast in 1575. On the right is the Venetian Gothic Art tomb of Andrea Dandolo.

The mosaic work on the walls, vaults and domes was by Venetian workmen in the 14th C and portrays episodes from the life of St. John the Baptist and the infant Jesus. On the end wall is the great Crucifixion with the portrait of Andrea Dandolo in the dome; and above the baptismal font is Jesus Christ who invites the Apostles to preach the glad tidings; and below; all around is the Apostles in the act of baptising people from various countries.

Due to its opulent design, gold ground mosaics, and status as a symbol of Venetian wealth and power,  the Basilica has been known by the nickname Chiesa d’Oro (Church of gold).

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Oh! brave white horses! you gather and gallop

adam lindsay gordonThe Australian poet, Adam Lindsay Gordon (born 19 October, 1833 – died 24 June, 1870) lived at 10 Lewis Street, in the Melbourne suburb of Brighton, in 1868 during the last years of his life, after having migrated to Australia in 1853, after having been born in born at Fayal in the Azores.

An expert rider, he would often gallop his horse to the local Marine Hotel to drink, sing and gamble. The old hitching-post to which he tethered his horse is still there at the pub and the hotel has created an “Adam Lindsay Gordon Lounge” in his commemoration, complete with historical relics from the poet.

On 24 June, 1870, the day before his book Bush Ballads and Galloping Rhymes was published, Adam Lindsay Gordon walked through the early morning frost to the scrub on the foreshore at the end of Park Street, Brighton and shot himself.

  • In his pocket was a “lucky charm” Lion shilling.
  • His body was found by William Allen, a local Brighton storekeeper.

“The Swimmer” is one of the poems from Bush Ballads and Galloping Hymns.  It was later set to music by Sir Edward Elgar as the fifth and last song in his song-cycle “Sea Pictures”.  The following is the last verse from “The Swimmer“:

Oh! brave white horses! you gather and gallop,
The storm sprite loosens the gusty reins;
Now the stoutest ship were the frailest shallop
In your hollow backs, on your high arched manes.
I would ride as never [a] man has ridden
In your sleepy, swirling surges hidden,
I would ride as never man has ridden
To gulfs foreshadowed through straits forbidden,
Where no light wearies and no love wanes,
No love, where no love, no love wanes.

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Cheezels are more than a Mynah Attraction

peter trusler-cheezels

Don’t get me wrong!

Not for one moment am I saying that Peter Trusler’s art is rubbish, but I love the use of rubbish within Peter Trusler’s art! Especially the inclusion of a discarded, empty Cheezels bag. (Def: highly cheesy crunchy savoury snack, beloved by children of all ages!).

The above image is featured in “Birds of Australian Gardens” by Australian artist Peter Trusler. Trusler was born in Yallourn in country Victoria. He studied oil painting under the Ballarat artist Jessie Merritt and is a science graduate from Monash University. He is a foundation member of the Wildlife Art Society of Australasia and his work is represented in collections throughout Australia. Among the publications featured in this illustration are the Gould League’s Bird Habitatat Wall-chart series and Rigby’s Every Australian Bird Illustrated.

He describes the above featured Common mynah (acrdotheres tristis) as the larrikin of the streets. They are members of the large starling family Sturnidae and were originally introduced to control insect pests. The Common mynah is aka the Indian Myna.

  • Their food source is varied, including insects; such as wasps, flies, beetles, and their larvae and sugar ants; household scraps, seeds, and fruit.
  • The strutting common mynah rarely neglects an opportunity to investigate food sources, and thus a diet of Cheezels may become a part of their diet.

However, there is one trick that humans can do that mynahs cannot do when it comes to eating Cheezels; and that is to place one Cheezel ring over each finger (and thumb). Therefore, at a party, we can run away from the Cheezel’s bowl with up to 10 Cheezels before anyone can bat an eyelid and realise that the bowl is now severely depleted.

Wey ho! nibble, nibble, nibble, yum, yum, yum, Cheezels are the way to go, I’m not dumb!

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Here’s to the old camel joke – One Hump or Two

margaret river caveHere is an example of what I call ‘Natural Art.

I found this marvelous example of ‘natural art’ form in the Jewel Cave, at Margaret River, in south Western Australia. To me, there is no doubting that it looks like a dromedary camel.

  • The Jewel Cave is the biggest show cave in Western Australia, which features four massive chambers.
  • It is also home to one of the longest straw stalactites found in any tourist cave in the world.
  • The stalactites and straws have to be seen to be believed stretching, suspended and hanging across the ceiling like vines and dancing cobwebs.
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Ghostbikes that Celebrate the Cycle of Life

ghostbikeA “Ghost Bike” aka “Ghost-Cycle” or “White-Cycle”,  is a bicycle set up as a roadside memorial in a place where a cyclist has been killed or severely injured.  Apart from being a memorial, it is usually intended as a reminder to passing motorists to share the road.

Ghost Bikes are usually junk bicycles painted white;  and sometimes adorned with an attached  placard; locked to a suitable object close to the scene of the accident.

The first recorded “Ghost Bike” was recorded as occurring in St. Louis, Missouri, in 2003. Since then, “Ghost Bikes” and other small and sombre memorials for bicyclists who are killed or hit on the street are memorialised in time.

The example shown above serves in commemoration of the 4th anniversary for John Cornish  who was runned down and killed on Sunday, July 22, 2012 near the Brighton Sea Baths, Melbourne.  Cornish was a triathlon coach at Tri-Alliance. To find out more about “Ghostbikes” see the Ghostbikes website.

I also dedicate this post to “Julian” (2013) who is sadly missed by many of his former friends and colleagues, who will continue to remember and celebrate his eternal Cycle of Life.

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Webb’s Hope of Deliverance – Justifies its Existence

cathy weiszman - AD HopeBust of poet A.C. Hope by Cathy Webb, Garema Place, Canberra, Australia (2012).

Alec Derwent Hope AC OBE (21 July 1907 –13 July 2000) was an Australian poet and essayist known for his satirical slant. He was also a critic, teacher and academic.

Hope was born in Cooma, New South Wales, and educated partly at home and in Tasmania. He attended Fort Street Boys High School, Sydney University, and then the University of Oxford on a scholarship. Returning to Australia in 1931 he then trained as a teacher, and spent some time drifting.

He worked as a psychologist with the New South Wales Department of Labour and Industry, and as a lecturer in Education and English at Sydney Teachers College (1937–44). He was a lecturer at the University of Melbourne from 1945 to 1950, and in 1951 became the first professor of English at the newly founded Canberra University College, later of the Australian National University (ANU) when the two institutions merged, a chair he held until retiring in 1968.

Although he was published as a poet while still young, The Wandering Islands (1955) was his first collection and all that remained of his early work after most of his manuscripts were destroyed in a fire. Its publication was delayed by concern about the effects of Hope’s highly-erotic and savagely-satirical verse on the Australian public.

From 1968, Hope was appointed Emeritus Professor at the ANU. He was appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire in 1972 and a Companion of the Order of Australia in 1981 and awarded many other honours. He died aged 93, in Canberra, on 13 July, 2000; having suffered dementia in his last years. He is buried at the Queanbeyan Lawn Cemetery.

When Hope was once asked what poets do for Australia, he replied;  “They justify its existence”.

About the Sculptor – Cathy Webb:

  • St Joseph & Baby Jesus, life-sized bronze at St Joseph’s Church, Moorebank, Sydney (2012).
  • “Poet’s Corner”, Busts of Judith Wright, David Campbell, and A.D. Hope, (see above) Garema Place, Canberra City (2012).
  • Blake Prize Finalist, Sir Herman Black Gallery, University of Sydney (2005).
  • Giant’s Creek Art Prize, Sculpture Section, Highly Recommended (1997).
  • Waverley Art Prize, Sydney Winner Sculpture Section (1996)
  • Dip. Fine Art, National Art School, Sydney (1995).
  • Technical Assistant, Sculpture Department, National Art School, Sydney (1990-1994).

You can visit more of Cathy Webb’s work at her website.

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I Love the Flower Girl – (I don’t Know Why She Just Simply Caught My Eye)


(Above image:) La femme au Bouquet” aka “Woman with Flowers” by Jean-Pierre Cassingneul, reminds me of the words from a 1960s song “(I Love) The Flower Girl” by the band The Cowsills,

Jean-Pierre Cassigneul is a French painter known for his serene portraits of women mostly in hats that recall the French Post-Impressionist avant-garde, which reflect the works of Pierre Bonnard and Edouard Vuillard, as well as influences and frequent allusions to other aspects of the Années Folles.

Cassigneul was born on July 13, 1935, in Paris, France and studied at the École des Beaux Arts before holding his first solo exhibition at the tender age of 17. A year later, he was appointed a member of the Salon d’Automne.

  • From 1956-1960 he studied under various French artists prior to exhibiting at the Gallerie Bellechasse in Paris.
  • Since then he has exhibited throughout Europe, Japan, and the USA and has also illustrated several books, among them including: Le Tour de Malheur by Joseph Kessel.
  • As for “Woman with Flowers” by  Cassingneul it reminds me of the words from the 1960s song by the”The Cowsills which well describes the above image:

“Flowers in her hair, flowers everywhere.
I love the flower girl
Oh, I don’t know just why, she simply caught my eye,
I love the flower girl, She seemed so sweet and kind.
She crept into my mind”.

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Are a Pair of Hearts on a Tree Equal to This Heart of Stone?

marcus stone - absence makes the heart grow fonderAbove: “Absence Makes the Heart Grow Fonder“.

English historical genre painter and illustrator, Marcus Stone was born on 4th July, 1840, and according to the ‘Dictionary of Victorian Painters‘, he was trained by his father, Frank Stone ARA. Marcus began to exhibit at the Royal Academy, before he was eighteen years of age. A few years later he illustrated, with much success, books by Charles Dickens “Our Mutual Friend”, Anthony Trollope, and other writers who were friends of the Stone family.

Stone was elected an Associate of the Royal Academy in 1877, and Academician in 1887. In his earlier pictures, he dealt much with historical incidents, but in his later work, he focussed on a particular type of dainty sentiment, treated with much charm, refinement and executive skill.

He mainly painted genre scenes set in 18th century or Empire costume  and his themes were mostly dramatic, sentimental or occasionally humorous. Some of the titles of his works include: “Rejected“, “The First Love-Letter“, “A Stolen Kiss” and “Absence Makes the Heart Grow Fonder” (see above).

One of his canvases is in Tate Gallery in London. Most of his works have been engraved, and medals were awarded to him at exhibitions in all parts of the world.

A blue plaque commemorates Stone at his house at 8 Melbury Road, Holland Park. Stone married Laura Brown, the daughter of the Zealand merchant William Brown.

  • Although Marcus Stone died on 24 March, 1921, his artistic legacy lives on as evidenced by this precious Stone!
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