The Art of UNICEF Never Gives Up

[Above: Nicolas Fimbari – The Procession – Italy]

The United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) provides emergency food and healthcare to children and women in countries that have been devastated by war or other significant emergencies.

UNICEF was created by the United Nations General Assembly on 11 December, 1946 and its first Chairman was Polish physician Ludwick Rajchman.

  • These days UNICEF operates in over 190 countries and territories to save children’s lives, to defend their rights; and to help them fulfil their potential, from early childhood through adolescence.

UNICEF has been selling greeting cards for over 70 years. These cards are beautifully designed and made with a commitment to sustainable forest management and responsible use of the planet’s natural resources.

  • The image “The Procession – Italy” is from a timeless vintage 1960s Christmas card design for UNICEF by Italian artist Nicolas Fimbari.

For those of you who will be celebrating on 25th December:

Merry Christmas | Joyeux Noël | Buon Natale | Frohe Weihnachten | Feliz Navidad | Nollaig Shona Dhuit |Boas Festas | Zalig Kerstfeest | Prettige Kerstdagen/ Zalig Kerstfeest | Wesolych Swiat | Gëzuar Krishlindjet |Eftihismena Christougenna| Sretan Bozi and many more festive greetings to you all

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The Hallstatt Karner

Hallstatt is a small village situated in the Salzkammergut region of Upper Austria on the south-western shore of the Hallstätter See (lake). It is home to an extraordinary karner (charnel house) also known as a beinhaus (bone house) which hosts some former 1200  town residents, mostly from the 18th-19th Century.

Karners were places of second burial and were once much more common in the eastern alpine areas, due to a lack of burial space; but have now largely disappeared.

  • The Hallstatt karner is located in a chapel in the basement the 12th Century Church of Saint Michael; abutting the steep cliffs of the Hallberg.
  • Because of the town’s mountainous geography, the townsfolk started to run out of space to bury their dead in the early 18th century, so they built the karner near the church graveyard, to store the bones of their loved ones and create space for future burials in the graveyard.

A graveyard burial averaged 10-15 years. After this, the remains were then exhumed and the bones were left out and sun-bleached, then stacked in the karner next to the bones of other family members.

  • The tradition of painting the skulls began in the 1720’s, as a way for the deceased to maintain their identity.
  • Approximately half of the karner skulls are painted; each with the deceased’s name, birth and death dates; and symbolic designs.
  • The skulls belonging to women were painted with colorful floral designs; and those belonging to men were decorated with an ivy motif.

The Bone House in Hallstatt is one of the last karners, and it has always contained one of the the most remarkable collections of painted skulls, anywhere.

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The Art of Keiichi Tanaami

Keiichi Tanaami (b. Tokyo, 1936) has been an active artist, illustrator and graphic designer since the 1960’s. He refers himself to an Edokko (a person born and raised in Tokyo).

Tanaami’s early career took him to San Francisco in 1968, where he was influenced by Pop Art and the psychedelic drug culture including the acid rock music genre. It was here that he was able to see both Pink Floyd and Janis Joplin in concert.

  • By 1975, Tanaami was appointed the first Art Director of Playboy magazine (Japanese Edition).

By 1991, Tanaami became a professor at Kyoto University of Art and Design, where he is now the Chair of the Faculty on Information Design.

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Un-Ironed T-Shirt | I’ve Got One of These Too

[Greg Warburton  Self-portrait in Da Vinci T-shirt (2003) acrylic and charcoal and conte on paper on timber 180 x 120 cm.]

Greg Warburton (born 1952), trained at Hornsby Technical College and Alexander Mackie College in the 1970s. From 1974 to 1980, he received an Australia Council Grant to study in New York and Toronto. Warburton’s work is represented in regional, municipal and private collections in Australia and overseas.

  • During the 1980s and 1990s Warburton had four one-man shows at the Holdsworth Galleries (Woollahra); and the Mark Julian Gallery (Glebe).
  • Since 1992, he has worked for organizations assisting people with disabilities.
  • In 1996 Warburton won the Bega Valley Art Award and the Walkom-Manning Art Prize.
  • Since 2001, he has been an Archibald finalist four times.
  • Warburton has won the Blake Viewer’s Choice, and the Hunters Hill Portrait Prize twice.

OK so I do not own a Da Vinci t-shirt, but I can  still relate to this; as I have a similar crumpled white t-shirt on the floor, that didn’t quite make it to the laundry basket, washing machine or ironing board; but when worn, looks exactly like this.

Time to Cotton-on.

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Adelaide’s Landmark Car Park | For Member’s Only

[Car Park: Members Only by Matej Andraž Vogrinčič  22m wide and 22m high was created and commissioned for the Telstra Adelaide Festival of Arts in 2000.]

  • This public installation comprises 15,000 Matchbox toy cars stuck to a brick wall close to Rosina Street off Hindley Street, where it still remains as a crowd favourite. Many of the toy cars were given to the artist by the general public.

Slovenian artist Matej Andraž Vogrinčič (born October 12, 1970) comes from Ljubljana. Since the early 1990s, he has built an international reputation by creating site-specific installations in urban and natural environments filling ordinary or neglected places with even more ordinary objects.

  • Vogrinčič first “dressed” a dilapidated house with donated clothing in Ljubljana and then presented a similar project at the Venice Biennale in 1999.
  • The following year, he created the project “Car Park: Members Only” on a wall of a building in the South Australian capital of Adelaide (pictured above). Vogrinčič then went into the Australian outback where he put up a watering can installation, consisting of some 2,000 plaster watering cans arranged over the area of a football field in a region which is one of the driest on our planet.
  • For the Awesome Festival in Perth, Western Australia (2003), Vogrinčič covered an area of 7,000 square metres with 10,000 coloured balloons and two years later in the Victorian capital he filled the atrium of the former Melbourne General Post Office (GPO) with 1,000 umbrellas.
  • He commissioned Untitled for the 4th Liverpool Biennial (UK) which consisted of 56 upturned boats placed inside the bombed ruins of the Gothic Era St. Luke’s Church.
  • In 2013, Vogrinčič participated in ‘Kashima’ in Beppu, Japan; working in collaboration with Japanese bamboo craft masters; creating a site-specific artwork, ‘Rope‘, in an abandoned hot-spring. Two years later, in 2015, he was invited to participate at the Contemporary Art Festival ‘Mixed Bathing World’ again in Beppu.

Back in 2000, on arriving in Adelaide, Vogrinčič  noticed the number of multi-level car parks in the city and its increasing urban density. “Adelaide is a capital of garages and car parks,” he explained. “I found a stenciled graffiti saying ‘Small Car: Members Only’ and decided to make a car park for really small cars.”

Hence the large or small “Car Park: Members Only”

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Diamonds Are Forever

[Above: The Schomberg Diamond Ring (ca 1855) contains a Brazilian cut diamond (sometimes called cushion cut or old mine cut) of just under 1 carat, set in high carat yellow gold (not hallmarked). It is set in four claws within an open scroll setting, with a divided scroll shank.]

Discovered in 1975, The Schomberg Diamond Ring is a prize winning relic from the  remains of the Schomberg ship which was wrecked outside Peterborough, on the coast of Victoria, Australia in 1855.

When the Schomberg was launched from Liverpool in 1855, she was considered the “Noblest ship that ever floated on water,” according to her owners from the Black Ball Line. On her maiden voyage; its 34 year old master, Captain James Nicol ‘Bully’ Forbes, had promised to travel from Liverpool to Melbourne in 60 days, “with or without the help of God.”

Close to her destination, on 26 December 1855, 78 days after leaving Liverpool, Captain Forbes was engrossed in a card game and ignored the crew’s warnings; ultimately running the ship aground on a sand spit near Cape Otway, close to Peterborough.

  • Luckily, another ship, the SS Queen was nearby and rescued all of the passengers and crew from the Schomberg.
  • Parts of the wreckage of the Schomberg were washed ashore on the south island of New Zealand in 1870; nearly 15 years after its wreckage.
  • Although all survived the wreck, no-one came forward to claim the valuable diamond.

The ring is on permanent display at the Great Circle Gallery, Flagstaff Hill Maritime Village in Warrnambool, Victoria, not far from Peterborough.

We Know That Diamonds Are Forever | Because Diamonds are a Girl’s Best Friend

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Like A Bridge Over Ponded Waters, I Will Lily You Down


Claude Monet is the original artist of the great masterpiece painting Bridge Over a Pond of Water Lillies (1899) oil on canvas 90 cm x 100 cm (Musee Marmottan Monet, Paris)

Born Oscar-Claude Monet in France, on 14 November 1840, Monet was a founder of the French Impressionist school of painting.

  • After moving to the French provincial town of Giverney in 1883, Monet began painting his famous water lilies.
  • It was here that the white water lilies local to France were planted along with imported cultivars from South America and Egypt, resulting in a range of colours including yellow, blue and white lilies that turned pink with age.
  • By 1899 his artwork showcased his new style, depicting vertical views with a Japanese Bridge in the background, as a central feature in each canvas.

As a consequence, Monet’s lily ponds and bridge at his Giverney home, have become an iconic impressionistic artwork which other students, artists and copyists wish to perfect. Images include:

  • Two art study works submitted by secondary college students from an unnamed secondary college as part of their annual fair.

And two parodies:

  • The first being from Sally Swain’s “Great Housewives of Art” (1987 exhibition), with her interpretation entitled:  “Mrs Monet cleans the pool“. (Swain was born in Sydney in 1958. After a BA in psychology from Sydney University, she travelled Europe and has subsequently worked as a freelance illustrator).
  • The other is entitled Show Me the Monet (2005) by street artist Banksy. Here Banksy refigures Monet’s original painting using the same materials as well as adding two discarded shopping carts/trolleys and a traffic cone to the pond; representing consumerism; hence his title: Show Me the Monet (money).

Regardless of copies, parodies or originals it is evident that when it comes to Giverney’s waterlilies, there are Monet Bridges to Cross.

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I Can’t Quite Get the Hang of It

[Elizabeth Newman: Untitled (2013) cotton thread on canvas]

Elizabeth Newman was born in Melbourne, Australia in 1962 and studied at the Victorian College of the Arts in the 1980s. She has participated in numerous group exhibitions and more than twenty solo exhibitions within Australia and overseas.

Using simple everyday materials, Newman’s abstractions employ pre-conscious and primal gestures to encourage subjective responses. With the simple act of a cut, Untitled (featured above) creates optical effects by juxtaposing the wave of the three-colour pattern of the fabric with its reverse. In this way, the work references the formal techniques of the Op Art movement.

  • Newman’s work addresses questions of representation and subjectivity and engages with a formalist-conceptualist discourse.

Over the years, Newman has expanded her practice to include painting, found objects, collages, text-based works, photography, sculpture and writing. She says she tries to avoid the trap of technical proficiency by shifting mediums and modes to evade any mastery that develops in practice.

Newman appreciates the spirit of spontaneity, naivety and uncertainty which she continues to pursue in her art-making process. Her innovative and experimental approach to art has been a significant influence upon her contemporaries as well as a younger generation of artist.

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The Brother Hoods of Fiona Foley

[Badtjala people, Wondunna clan, Maryborough Queensland synthetic inks on textile-  7 robes with hoods]

Fiona Foley (born 1964) is a contemporary Indigenous Australian artist from Badtjala, Fraser Island, Queensland. She studied at the Sydney College of the Arts, and as an artist has travelled internationally and ventured into remote communities in the Northern Territory.

  • Foley’s work refers to her history growing up in regional Queensland in a community with a living memory of their colonisation by the English.
  • Her featured work is based on the American concept of the Ku Klux Klan (KKK) – being  an African-American slang term for the white man. In Australia this term is also known as a ‘honky’ or ‘white honky’. therefore the black caps on this installation have the initials HHH (a local translation of KKK, with similar meaning).

For Foley, the political and the personal are not separate entities. Her lifestyle and art both reflect a commitment to her Indigenous identity and challenge to Australian culture to reread history; and to reveal moments of strength and empowerment.

In 2000, Foley’s work was among that of eight individual and collaborative groups of Indigenous Australian artists shown in the prestigious Nicholas Hall at the Hermitage Museum in Russia. Her works are held in the collections of the Queensland Art Gallery,  University Art Museum at the University of Queensland, and the National Gallery of Australia.

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Confessions of an English-Opium Eater & Others

Opium usage in art and literature is not as uncommon as you might think. Fascination with narcotics has reigned interest since the late 19th to early 20th Centuries with movies relating to the drug craze, such as: The Derelict (1914), The Dividend  (1916), Broken Blossoms (1919) and Human Wreckage (1924). These focussed on the unsavoury aspects of drug taking and fueled anti-opium crusaders; who spoke of related tales including seduction, white slavery and opium smuggling.

The use of drugs began to feature in new detective novels with writers, artists and photographers capturing the essence of the allure which opium possessed. Much of this is echoed with the images featured above, which tell their own opium story.

  • Dope! Rivers of it, to flood the nation! ‘ Race Williams battles drugs, smugglers and a dame named Flame in Carroll John Daly’s action-filled adventure “Just Another Stiff” (Dime Detective Magazine, April, 1936)
  • Black Opium (Cover for Berkley Books English translation (1958) reprint of Claude Farrere’s Fumee D’Opium). This book was first published in 1904 and consisted of a series of short stories linked thematically by opium. These were drawn on Farrere’s observations and experiences in the French Navy. Within this text, the reader visits opium dens in China, Saigon, Paris and Toulon. The “shocking” cover of the Berkley reprint features a naked woman which incorrectly implies a connection between opium smoking and sexual ecstasy.
  • Fumeur d’opium (Opium Den) postcard from the Territoire de Kouang-Icheou-Wan, Indochina.
  • Photograph of a Caucasian woman dressed in ‘Oriental‘ clothes and posing as an opium smoker; but is actually holding a tobacco pipe. Caucasian women as opium smokers, opium den proprietors or as wives or concubines of Asian opium dealers, added a sensual overtone to the smoking ritual and so; were a favourite topic among writers who frequented or imagined opium dens. However, few women have ever written about their motivation for smoking opium, therefore, their stories and accounts of smoking have been relegated to obscurity.
  • Lastly, La Vice d’Asie L’Opium (The Vice of Asia: Opium) painting by Henri Vallet. This was exhibited at the 1909 Paris Salon depicting an idealized Parisian opium den.

Writers in fiction, poetry and biography have gone to great lengths to describe their experiences with opium. In Theophile Gautier’s book “Mademoiselle de Maupin” he wrote:

Me, I’d be there, immobile, silent, under a magnificent canopy, … and a huge tame lion under my elbow, the naked breast of a young slave girl under my feet like a footstool, and I’d be smoking opium in a massive jade pipe”.

However, the most famous text regarding opium belongs to Thomas de Quincey’sConfessions of an English Opium-Eater” (1822), which is one of the first and most famous literary accounts of opium addiction written from the point of view of an addict and details the pleasures and dangers of the drug.

In this tale, De Quincey wrote about the great English Romantic poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772–1834), whose Kubla Khan was considered to be a poem influenced by opium use. It appears that Coleridge began using opium in 1791 to treat jaundice and rheumatic fever. Later, he became a full addict after a severe attack of the disease in 1801, requiring 80–100 drops of laudanum daily.

  • The images above can be found in Barbara Hodgson’s book Opium: A Portrait of the Heavenly Demon, (1999).

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Vanity vs The Beautiful Lady Without Mercy

[Left: Vanity (1907) oil on panel 57 x 38 cm Diploma work accepted 1936 Royal Academy] [Right: La Belle Dame Sans Merci (AkaThe Beautiful Lady Without Mercy“) (1926) canvas 102 x 97 cm private collection, London]

English painter and portrait  illustrator Frank Cadogan Cowper was born in Wicken, Northamptonshire on 6 October 1877. He was the son of the author and early pioneer of coastal cruising in yachts, Frank Cowper, and grandson of the Rector of Wicken.

  • Cadogan Cowper first studied art at St John’s Wood Art School in 1896 and continued at the Royal Academy Schools from 1897-1902.
  • He is referred to as “The last of the Pre-Raphaelites” as he continued painting Arthurian knights and damsels in distress at the Royal Academy well into the 20th Century.

Cowper first exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1899, and spent six months studying under Edwin Austin Abbey before travelling to Italy.

As an artist, he worked in both watercolours and oils; and as an illustrator; provided the illustrations for Sir Sidney Lee’s The Imperial Shakespeare. He contributed to a mural in the Houses of Parliament in 1910 along with Byam Shaw, Ernest Board and Henry Arthur Payne. He died on 17 November 1958.

  • The record price for a Cowper painting at sale is £469,250 for “Our Lady of the Fruits of the Earth” (1917) at Christie‘s in London on 17 December 2011.

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Take Potluck or be Thunderstruck

[Above: Two issues of Pluck and Luck: Complete Stories of Adventure]

  • Left: Issue No. 76  November 15, 1899. “The Rocket or Adventures in the Air” by Allyn Draper. Frustrated pursuers stand agape as their quarry lifts off for a trip to the moon in a whirligig rocket. “The rocket mounted up in the air, and soared away. “Good-by” cried Harry.  Tell the justice I’ll report next year for sentence. I live in the Moon.” The three men were dumbfounded.”
  • Right: Issue No.231 November 5, 1902. (Price: 5 cents). “Jack Wright and His Electric Air Schooner or The Mystery of a Magic Mine” by “Noname”. This is looking more seaworthy than airworthy. Jack Wright’s electric schooner saves two adventurers from agitated savages. “The crater dwellers  who had pursued them down the rocks, were guided to their location by their shouts and while the Sky Rocket was rushing through the air to their rescue the savages were climbing up the rocks from the plateau below, with the intention of attacking them.”

Pluck and Luck was an American magazine and the longest-running dime novel first published by Frank Tousey. The principal series character was Jack Wright. It primarily featured stories of adventure covering subjects including fire fighters, railroads, the American Revolution, the American Civil War, frontier life, finance and success, temperance, circus, science fiction and travel and exploration. All the stories were reprints from Tousey story papers Boys of New York, Golden Weekly, Happy Days and Young Men of America.

  • Authors included Cecil Burleigh, Augustus Comstock, Francis W. Doughty, Thomas W. Hanshaw, Walter Fenton Mott, Dennis O’Sullivan, Luis Senarens, Harvey K. Shackleford, Cornelius Shea, George G. Small, William Howard Van Orden and others writing under house names, like ‘NoName‘.
  • Pluck and Luck numbered 1605 issues from January 12, 1898 to March 5, 1929. The 32-page magazine was semi-monthly for the first 22 issues and then became weekly. Its size was 8 x 11 inches (through No. 1144) and 6 x 9 inches thereafter, featuring  colour covers. Issues No. 1002-1464 were published by Harry Wolff and the rest by Westbury.

Don’t be a sitting duck | Go read Pluck & Luck

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Tax on Delivery

Cuneiform Tablet[Cuneiform Tablet: Southern Mesopotamia c. 2050 BC.]

Cuneiform writing was developed by the ancient culture of Sumer (which is now in the region of modern-day Iraq) and was one of the first scripts used to record information.

It was written on dampened hand-shaped clay tablets, using a wedged stick (cunea being Latin for wedge), which were then sun-dried or fired. The earliest tablets, from around the end of the 4th millennium, record the transactions of tax collectors and merchants. They later began to record laws and texts on astronomy, literature, medicine and mathematics.

  • The tablet (featured above) records the delivery of taxes, paid in sheep and goats in the 10th month of the 46th year of Shulgi, (Second King of the Third Dynasty of Ur).

Proof to the age old saying “There are two certainties in life – Death and Taxes” (attributed to Benjamin Franklin)

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Gerard of the Night (Painter By Day)

[The Happy Musician (De Vrolijke Speelman) 108 x 89 cm Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam]

Dutch Golden Age artist, “Gerard of the Night” (Gerard van Honthorst, Gerrit van Honthorst) was born on 4th November 1592 in Utrecht. Early in his career he visited Rome, where he began to paint in a style which was influenced by Caravaggio. He stayed in Italy for 10 years before returning home. Following his return to the Netherlands, he became a leading portrait painter.

  • He is noted for his depiction of artificially lit scenes, eventually receiving the Italian nickname Gherardo delle Notti (“Gerard of the Night”).

With his portraits of ordinary folk such as the Happy Musician, he gained great fame in the Netherlands and Berlin where he was a court painter and influenced for a long time the stream of painting which has become known as the Utrecht School.

Obviously, Gerard of the Night, didn’t give up his day job!

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Where the Hammock Swung | When the World Was Young

[“In the Hammock“,  (1886) by Hans Thoma]

German artist Hans Thoma, was born on October 2, 1839 in Bernau within the Black Forest region of Germany.  In 1859, at the age of 20, having started life as a painter of clock faces; Thoma entered the Karlsruhe Academy, where he studied under Johann Wilhelm Schirmer and Ludwig des Coudres.

  • His art work is based on early impressions of the simple idyllic life of his native district, where  he displays affinities with the Pre-Raphaelite movement.
  • Thoma continued study and work in Düsseldorf, Paris Frankfurt and in many cities in Italy, prior to a successful exhibition of some thirty paintings in Munich.

He died in Karlsruhe on November 7, 1924 at the age of 85.

Ah, the apple trees
Sunlit memories
Where the hammock swung
On our backs we’d lie
(from When the World Was Young by Bob Dylan)

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