Grainger’s Toweling Fashion Changer – Has a Dry Sense of Humour

  • Percy Grainger & Ella Grainger: Towelling Tunic shirt, leggings, belt, shoes worn by Percy Grainger c. 1934 (Cotton bath towels, plastic, leather and metal)
  • Dr Kaare K, Nygaard  (1902-1989) Percy Grainger, 1955 (Bronze) Grainger Museum of Melbourne, University of Melbourne.
  • Towelling outfit c1934. The inspiration for these outfits was Maori and South Sea Island cloths and fabrics.

About these clothes, Grainger once commented: “Around 1910 my mother mooted the idea of clothes made of Turkish towels, ‘cool in summer, warm in the winter and washable at all times’. I leaped at the idea, seeing therein a chance to return to something comparable with the garish brilliance of the ‘skyblue and scarlet’ garments of the Saxon and Scandinavian forefathers. In the 1930s, he and his wife Ella Strom took up this idea of toweling clothing.

Percy Aldridge Grainger (8 July 1882 – 20 February 1961) was an Australian-born composer, arranger and pianist, responsible for the revival of interest in British folk music in the early years of the 20th century, such as the popular  folk-dance tune “English Country Gardens“. He was born in a house in New Street, Brighton and home-schooled by his mother Rose. Grainger left Australia at the age of 13 to attend the Hoch Conservatory in Frankfurt. Between 1901 and 1914 he was based in London, where he established himself first as a society pianist and later as a concert performer, composer and collector of original folk melodies. Grainger then moved to the United States where he lived for the rest of his life, although he traveled widely in Europe and in Australia. After his mother’s suicide in 1922 he became increasingly involved in educational work.

  • In the 1930s he set up the Grainger Museum in Melbourne, as a monument to his life and works and as a future research archive. He began collecting and recovering from friends letters and artifacts, even those demonstrating the most private aspects of his life, such as whips, blood-stained shirts and revealing photographs.

In October 1953 Grainger was operated on for abdominal cancer. In September 1955, he made his final visit to Australia, where he spent nine months organising and arranging exhibits for the Museum. Before leaving Melbourne, he deposited in a bank a parcel that contained an essay and photographs related to his sex life, not to be opened until 10 years after his death.

  • By 1957, Grainger’s physical health had markedly declined, as had his powers of concentration. Sensing that death was drawing near, he made a new will, bequeathing his skeleton “for preservation and possible display in the Grainger Museum”. This wish was not carried out.

Grainger died in the White Plains hospital on 20 February 1961, at the age of 78. His body was flown to Adelaide where, on 2 March, he was buried in the Aldridge family vault in the West Terrace Cemetery, alongside his mother, Rose’s ashes. Ella later married a young archivist, Stewart Manville. She died in 1972, aged 83.

  • The museum did not open to the general public during Grainger’s lifetime, but was available to scholars for research. The Grainger Museum is now open to the public Sunday-Friday 12.00pm – 4.00pm
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Is This the First Picture of a Young Street Artist at Work?

French painter, poster artist and print-maker, Etienne Maurice Firmin Bouisset was born to a working-class family in the town of Moissac in the Tarn-et-Garonne département in south-western France on September 2, 1859.  He specialized in painting children and did a number of illustrated books such as La Petite Ménagère (The Little Housekeeper) in 1890. Firmin Bouisset died in Paris on 19 March, 1925.

At a time when posters were a popular form of advertising, Bouisset created posters with enduring images for a number of different French food companies such as Maggi and Lefèvre-Utile (where he used their LU initials as an ad logo as part of a 1897 poster image for a line of butter biscuits featuring “The Little Schoolboy” – of which a variation is still used by today.

  • However, Firmin Bouisset is more popularly known for his posters for the French chocolate manufacturer, Menier (see above).
  • Contracted by the company in 1892, Bouisset used his daughter Yvonne as a model to create what became an iconic image of a little girl using a piece of chocolate to write the company’s name.
  • The drawing was featured on many of the Menier’s advertisements and on its packaged products as well as on promotional items such as creamers, bowls, sugar dishes, plates, canister sets, ashtrays, thermometers, key chains, and even children’s exercise books.

Today, many of his posters are very popular with collectors and because they are no longer copyright protected, they are being duplicated and sold on the Internet and in retail outlets in many countries.

Yvonne Bouisset, the scribbler, the graffiti artist, the street artist, the defacer, or the innocent – you be the judge.

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Bathroom Blues? Let Freddie the Frog Come to the Rescue On Demand

  • Arkie by Brett Whiteley (1967) oil mixed media on canvas on board (Bendigo Art Gallery, Victoria).

Australian Avant-garde artist Brett Whiteley (born Sydney,  7 April 1939 – died 15 June 1992) is well represented in many Australian galleries and was twice winner of the Archibald, Wynne and Sulman prizes. In 1962 he married Wendy Julius and their only child; Arkie Whiteley was born in London on 6 November, 1964.

  • While in London, Whiteley painted works in several different series: including bathing, the zoo and of the murderer John Christie (who had committed murders in the area near where Whiteley was staying at Ladbroke Grove).

Many of his ideas and themes were influenced by his his experiences with alcohol, marijuana, and other drugs. Over the years, Whiteley became increasingly dependent on alcohol and became addicted to heroin. As a consequence, his work output declined, whilst his market value climbed. He made several attempts to dry out and get off drugs completely, all ultimately unsuccessful. In 1989, he and Wendy, whom he had always credited as his ‘muse’, divorced.  On 15 June 1992, aged 53, he was found dead from a heroin overdose in a motel room in Thirroul, north of Wollongong in New South Wales. The coroner’s verdict was ‘death due to self-administered substances’.

Their daughter Arkie became an Australian actress who appeared in television and films. She died from adrenal cancer on 19th December, 2001, aged 37. According to her obituary in The Times newspaper, when living with her parents at the Hotel Chelsea in New York as an infant, her babysitter was Janis Joplin.

  • Featured in the ‘Arkie’ bathing portrait is a vintage Avon product – Freddie the Frog Soap Dish  (See image 1).
  • However, if you are more interested in the navy blue bath tiles in ‘Arkie‘, you might like image 2 by Thomas Demand, entitled ‘Bathroom’ (1997) Type C photograph on transparent synthetic polymer resin (160cm x 122cm).

German sculptor and photographer, Thomas Cyrill Demand was born in 1964, and lives and works in both Berlin and Los Angeles and teaches at the University of Fine Arts, Hamburg. Demand is known for making photographs of 3D models that look like real images of rooms and other spaces,- hence this bathroom scene. He thus describes himself not as a photographer, but as a conceptual artist for whom photography is an intrinsic part of his creative process.

  • It’s not everyday one comes across a Tom, Brett or Freddie when one draws a bath but I have left you with something to toy with.
  • Perhaps ‘Rubber Duckie‘ is not always the one; even though he makes bath time fun; ‘cos Freddie the Frog I’m awfully fond of you!
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Compare the Pair #17 | The Tale of Two Fridges

Above: Left: Leda and the Swan fridge by Arthur Boyd; Above Right: Decorated fridge by Shirley Stewart at  ANA Hall, Harcourt, Victoria.

  • What separates these two beautifully decorated fridges? – About 31 km via the Midland Highway (A300) in  Central Victoria – that’s what!

In 1958, 11 Australian artists were invited by The Australian Women’s Weekly and Kelvinator to paint the surface of a fridge as if it were a canvas. One of these artists was respected Australian artist Arthur Boyd, who was known for his involvement in pioneering movements such as the Angry Penguins and the Antipodeans. Each artist was provided with a Kelvinator Magic Cycle refrigerator on which they painted.

  • The idea was inspired from a similar exhibition held in Paris.
  • The Australian exhibition was entitled “Art in Everyday Life“, which opened at Sydney’s Legacy House.
  • It then travelled to Brisbane, Melbourne and Adelaide, after which the appliances were auctioned in aid of Legacy.

Boyd’s painting, Leda and the Swan was inspired by the Greek mythological tale in which the god Zeus, in the form of a swan; seduces Leda. According to later Greek mythology, Leda bore Helen and Polydeuces, children of Zeus[ while at the same time bearing Castor and Clytemnestra[ children of her husband Tyndareus, the King of Sparta.

  • Of the 11 fridges, commissioned for the exhibition, Boyd’s is believed to be the only one still in existence. It was bought in 1996 by one of Victoria’s oldest galleries – the Bendigo Art Gallery.

The other fridge was painted by Shirley Stewart, in the 1990s (from a photo), but unlike Boyd’s, it is still a working Pope (brand) fridge. It can be seen at the ANA Hall in Harcourt, where Devonshire tea is served every year at the annual Harcourt Apple Festival. (To be held on 10 March, 2018) or any Wednesday during the year, when the Historical Society is open.

Unlike the Leda and the Swan fridge, you will see bottles of chilled milk ready to be served with your Devonshire tea; unlike the Boyd fridge at the Bendigo Art Gallery, which sets of an alarm if you are curious and want to open its fridge door.

  • Truly two amazing and cool ridgy-didge fridges!
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Bali Hai! This is Why

Belgian painter Adrien-Jean Le Mayeur de Merpes was born in Brussels on 9 February 1880. He left Europe in 1932 and travelled to Bali where he remained for the rest of his life. Le Mayeur De Merpes was fascinated with the Balinese culture and the Hindu traditions including the Balinese people’s traditional way of life, the temple rituals and the performance of their local music and dances. He was also impressed with the luscious greenery and surroundings of Bali’s tropical climate.

Initially renting a house in Bali’s capital city Denpasar, Le Mayeur de Merpes became acquainted with a 15-year-old legong dancer, Ni Nyoman Pollok, aka Ni Pollok, who became the model and muse for his paintings.

A number of Le Mayeur De Merpes’ Balinese art works were exhibited in Singapore in 1933, which increase his popularity. Due to this success, he purchased some land and built a house and studio at Sanur beach. Ni Pollok and her two female friends worked every day as models for Le MayeurDe Merpes; and by 1935 he and Ni Pollok married.

  • During the WW2 Japanese occupation of Indonesia, Le Mayeur De Merpes was put under house arrest by the Japanese authorities. However, he continued painting often on rice sack cloth or any other surfaces he could find.

In 1956, Post-Proclamation of Independence, the Indonesian Minister for Education and Culture visited Le Mayeur De Merpes and Pollok and recommended that their house, studio and all its contents be preserved as a museum.  Le Mayeur De Merpes agreed and on 28 August, 1957; a Deed of Conveyance was signed, and the property and its contents were gifted to the public; as a museum.

  • In 1958,  De Merpes was diagnosed with a severe form of ear cancer, and accompanied by Ni Pollok, returned to Belgium to receive medical treatment. After two months in Belgium, on 31 May, 1958, the 78-year-old painter died and was buried in Ixelles, Brussels.
  • Ni Pollok then returned home to take care of their house which had become the Museum where she lived until her death on 18 July, 1985, at the age of 68. Visitors today can still see up to 80 of his works on display.

Terima Kasih,  M. Le Mayeur de Merpes – Makasi!

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Enter the Dragon – How Clawsome

Melbourne’s Dai Loong (Big Dragon) has particular significance in the history of dragon making from China. Processional dragons are handmade out of silk, bamboo and wire. Historically it is a folk craft which originated in Foshan, in the Guangdong Province in southern China.

  • Due to the suppression of traditional culture, the production of processional dragons in Foshan ceased after 1949.

However, in 1978, samples from Melbourne’s early processional dragons were given to a descendant of a traditional parade dragon-maker in Foshan; and before long, Dai Loong was created. This prompted a revival in Foshan’s dragon making industry; after a period of almost 30 years.

The Chinese symbol of the dragon first appeared during the Yin and Shang Dynasties (16th-11th Century B.C.), as inscriptions on bones and turtle shields. They depicted a horned animal with teeth and scales. Unlike western representations of the dragon, Chinese dragons are good-natured and are believed to bring happiness, immortality, fertility and ward of evil spirits.

  • Through the dynasties, the five-clawed dragon has also represented the emperor and some Chinese refer to themselves as Loong De Chuan Ren (Descendants of the Dragon).
  • Every Chinese New Year, (aka the beginning of the Spring Festival) is marked with the appearance of the dragon, who rises from his slumber into the sky where his breath produces rain clouds.
  • If you are interested in becoming part of the Melbourne Dai Loong Association Inc. you can contact them directly via their website.
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To Light a Candle is To Cast a Shadow

French Baroque painter, Georges de La Tour (March 13, 1593 – January 30, 1652)  spent most of his working life in the Duchy of Lorraine, which was temporarily absorbed into France between 1641-1648. He was given the title “Painter to the King” (of France) in 1638, and he also worked for the Dukes of Lorraine in 1623–1624, but the local bourgeoisie provided his main market, and he achieved a certain affluence. 

Born at Vic-sur-Seille, France in 1593 he established himself at Lunéville around 1620 where he received many important commissions from the Duke of Lorraine. He also was involved in a Franciscan-led religious revival in Lorraine. Heavily influenced by the art of Caravaggio, La Tour mainly concentrated on religious subjects; many of which were rather sombre with large areas of dark shadows and muted colours subtly illuminated by a candle to create dark, dramatic and essential realistic scenes. La Tour’s art belongs to a school of art known as Tenebrist, from the Latin “Shrouded in Darkness“. 

In the portrait Penitent Magdalene, (Above Upper Right) Mary Magdalene is depicted with a human skill in her lap. (A traditional symbol for someone who is trying to be “dead to the world and all its false pleasures and temptations“). The candle serves a dual purpose lighting up the picture while also symbolizing Christ (Mary’s new master and the light of the world).

La Tour often painted several variations on the same subjects, and his surviving output is relatively small. His son Étienne was his pupil, and distinguishing between their work in versions of La Tour’s compositions is difficult. Georges de La Tour and his family died in 1652 in an epidemic in Lunéville.  La Tour’s work was forgotten until it was rediscovered by Hermann Voss, a German scholar, in 1915.

“Just as a candle cannot burn without fire, men cannot live without a spiritual life”.

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An Example of A Rare Chandel-Deer

[Above: Untitled Study” 2014, Adelaide taxidermy deer, chandelier crystal courtesy of artist and Ryan Renshaw Gallery, Brisbane].

Nicholas Folland is an installation artist born in 1967, who lives and works in Adelaide. He is currently the Head of Contemporary Studies and Sculpture at the Adelaide Central School of Art. 

In 2005, Folland completed a Master of Visual Arts at the University of Sydney, following a Bachelor of Visual Arts from the University of South Australia, (1999) when he was awarded the Samstag International Visual Art Scholarship.

At the centre of Folland’s practice is a reinterpretation of the ordinary and banal. By utilising common domestic materials, re-purposed furniture, natural fibres, taxidermy and ice, Folland manifests fables of historical reference, exposing cultural differences and tapping into our individual and accumulated sense of identity.

  • Follow him at his website here.
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Compare the Pair #16 | Time to Bring Home the Bacon

  • [Left: Frypan parody of a happy breakfaster’s repast];
  • [Right: A painting by Claes Oldenburg entitled “Bacon and Egg” 1961, (muslin and fabric soaked in plaster over wire frame painted with enamel 88.9×16.5cm) from the collection of the late Karl Stroher].

There has been a lot of updated research flooding the media upholding the virtues (in one study) of the importance of eating meat (including bacon and sausages) in an average protein diet, to help keep stomachs feeling full. Other studies claim eggs are OK for heart health, with heart health specialists condemning these results.  So, I found two examples of bacon and eggs, which seems everyone loves except doctors and nutritionists.

  • About Claes Oldenburg

Claes lOldenburg is an American sculptor and artist born on January 28, 1929, in Stockholm and  is best known for his public art installations, typically featuring large replicas of everyday objects. He studied literature and art history at Yale University (1946-1950), followed by study at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Oldenburg opened his own studio in 1953. Three years later in 1956, he moved to New York, working part-time in the library of the Cooper Union Museum for the Arts of Decoration.  

Another theme in Oldenburg’s work is soft sculpture versions of everyday objects. [See Above Left: Ice Bag and Right: Soft Toilet (1966) Vinyl, kapok and wood, painted, [NY Whitney Museum of American Art].

  • However it is Claes to be seen that everything Oldenberg is obviously new again!
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The Heart and Soul of Ghostpatrol

[Above:] Some examples found around Brunswick, Fitzroy, Collingwood and Melbourne CBD areas over a period of time from 2007-2017.

Street artist, cartoonist, muralist and general creative artist, David Booth aka Ghostpatrol has travelled the world painting and pasting his art using familiar themes of nature and the inner child for his illustrations on buildings and street art murals. Originally from Hobart, Ghostpatrol moved to Melbourne in 2006 and has worked on his art and street art installations since then. In his earlier days he often collaborated with fellow street artist Miso. [See above: B/W wheat-paste on dark green background].

Ghostpatrol uses various media for his street art projects using pasted posters, soft sculpture, watercolours and print-making often referencing childhood nostalgia, pop culture and incorporating works of hybrid animals.

He is sought after by commercial and artistic companies as well as local and international street artists. However, Ghostpatrol insists he is not creating art for profit or fame but purely out of a love for creating; and the single biggest reward – peer recognition.

  • These days, he spends his time creating pen and ink drawings for galleries.
  • His works can be found on large scale walls, gift cards and the National Gallery of Australia collections.

Follow him via Instagram @ghostpatrol or have a look at some of his upcoming events:

  • Investigation Mission @ Melbourne Museum 14-20 January, 2018
  • Adelaide Biennial @Art Gallery of South Australia 3 March – 3 June, 2018

Enjoy! For there’s no self control – when liking a Ghostpatrol!

Posted in Cards, Gallery Art, GreetingCards, Stencils, Street Artists A-Z, StreetArt, StreetArtists, Wheat-pastes | Leave a comment

Thangue You for the Violets

[Above]: “Violets For Perfume” (c.1913) oil on canvas, 109 x 95 cm Diploma work accepted 1913. (Royal Academy collection).

English realist rural landscape painter Henry Herbert La Thangue was born in Croydon, Surrey, on 19 January 1859.

La Thangue attended Dulwich College where he met fellow painters Stanhope Forbes and Frederick Goodall. He studied painting first at the Lambeth School of Art and then, from 1874–79, at the Royal Academy, London, winning a gold medal for his work in 1879.

This led to a prestigious scholarship for 3 years at the studio of Jean-Léon Gérôme at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris. Here, La Thangue came under the influence of the Barbizon school of open-air landscape painters, despite the fact that his teacher was strongly critical of the movement. He was associated with the Newlyn School like Henry Rheam.

  • Between 1881–82 La Thangue spent time painting on the coast of Brittany, and later in Donzère in the Rhone valley (1883).
  • That same year he became a member of the Royal Institute of Oil Painters.
  • La Thangue returned to England three years later, exhibiting at the Royal Academy, Royal Society of British Artists (RBA), Grosvenor Gallery, New Gallery, Royal Institute of Oil Painters, and many regional galleries.
  • He became involved in a failed attempt to reform the Royal Academy, helping to found the rival New English Art Club (NEAC) and exhibiting his work there.
  • By the late 1880s, La Thangue moved to South Walsham in Norfolk.

In the early 1890s he settled in Bosham, Sussex, where he continued his large-scale rural genre paintings and eventually made his base at Haylands in Graffham, Sussex, though he also spent much time painting in Provence (after 1901), Liguria (1903–11); and the Balearic Islands.

  • La Thangue died in London on 21 December, 1929.
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The Fairy Dell Dream of the Great Henry Rheam

Above: Henry Meynell Rheam “The Fairy Dell”

English painter Henry Meynell Rheam was born in Birkenhead on Merseyside on 13 January 1859.  He studied in Germany; London at Heatherly’s; and at the Académie Julian in Paris, working primarily in watercolour before settling in Newlyn.

  • Rheam is known for his pre-Raphaelite paintings, as well as being a staunch Quaker and first cousin of Henry Scott Tuke.
  • He first settled in Polperro, but moved to St Peters, Newlyn in 1890 at the age of 31.
  • From 1897 Rheam became the Honorary Secretary/Curator of the Newlyn Society of Artists; a post he continued loyally in for over 20 years.

By 1900, he married Alice Elliott and the couple lived at Boase Castle Lodge, Belle Vue, Newlyn; later moving to West Lodge in Alverton, Penzance in 1914, where he lived out his remaining years, until his death on 14 November 1920.

Posted in Angels, Art, Artists A-Z, DarkArt, Gallery Art, Illustrations, Paintings, Watercolours | Leave a comment

A tureen to help store your emotional cabbage?

Above: Cabbage Tureen by Paul-Antoine Hannong, from Hannong Factory Strasbourg, Alsace, France (ca 1754-1762) – Faience earthenware (tin-glazed), 21.2 × 34.6 × 33.1 cm (Collection of National Gallery of Victoria, International).

Faience (tin-glazed earthenware) and porcelain were the principal products of the Hannong Factory enterprise during the early 18th century. Founded by Charles-François Hannong and later administered by Paul-Antoine (1730–60), it continued  to operate under third generation son Joseph-Adam Hannong (1762–80). The Hannong’s were early practitioners of over-glaze painting in France and Strasbourg colour schemes were often dominated by an intense carmine colour.

During the 1740s and 1750s the factory developed a range of brightly painted, highly decorative services as well as tureens made in natural forms such as shells, birds and vegetables. This was the golden age of trompe l’oeil productions and the factory’s greatest productions were its tureens and pot-pourri which were imitated by other factories throughout Europe, including the Chelsea and Derby potteries in England.

Posted in Ceramics, Collectibles, DecorativeArts, Gallery Art, Porcelain | 1 Comment

Welcome to Benvenuti’s Art

Gianni Benvenuti (1926-2005) was an Italian-born illustrator of children’s book. Both images are from ‘The Little Elf and Other Stories” (1960) retold by Jane Carruth.

The book includes the following Hans Christian Anderson stories:

  • The Nightingale,
  • The Ugly Duckling,
  • The Little Elf,
  • The Magic Tinderbox,
  • The Emperor’s New Clothes,
  • The Coach with 12 Passengers

Anderson; the son of a poor cobbler, was born in Denmark in 1805. He became a successful writer of children’s stories and tales, despite his adversity, when both of his parents died when he was only 11 years of age.

  • Hans Christian Anderson died in 1875.
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Schenk’s Sheepish Anguish

Danish-born artist, August Friedrich Albrecht Schenck was born on April 23, 1828 in Glückstadt, Denmark. He became well known for his landscapes and paintings of animals.

He studied at the École des Beaux-Arts and afterwards in Paris, specializing in painting landscapes and animal subjects, which were often seen as a metaphor for human relationships and society. These included several snowy, winter landscapes depicting sheep struggling for survival, such as Anguish.

  • Schenck died in Écouen near Paris on January 1, 1901.

With Anguish, (see above), a brave ewe stands defiantly over the limp body of her lamb. Blood from the lamb’s mouth trickles on to the snow.  The pair is encircled by a mass of menacing black crows. The situation appears hopeless, despite the bravery of the ewe.

  • The painting belongs to the National Gallery  of Victoria International collection.
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