Tuesday, July 7, 2020

Postcard from B


My latest creation is all about music, time and a broken tryst ...

Starting with a rescued wooden violin case a friend gave me some time past - I have mounted the case on a platform to give it stability and set the platform on four rusty iron wheels - giving the piece a sense of travel - and then inside the case - well, I'll let you explore the story ...


The violin case is very old and quite beautiful and to keep a sense of its age and its history, I have not spent too much energy nor material patching-up the wear and tear of time ... it would be wonderful to know to whom it originally belonged and what beautiful music was played on the violin it protected ...


Scrolls made from aged piano sheet music from the turn of the century add stability and meaning ...


Open the case cover and an intricate story unfolds within ...


Staring at the bottom are many scrolls containing the music and the words from a bygone time ...


... then next is the workings of a clock from New York and dated 1882 -
the year our story begins ...
wind the spring up and the mechanism ticks the hours away ...


... next is our heroine ...


The centre ( central ) piece is a late 1800s postcard featuring a photo of Maud Jeffries ... I found this very personal discarded postcard at a Collectables Fair some time ago ...

Maud Evelyn Craven Jeffries (14 December 1869 – 26 September 1946) was an American actress. A popular subject for a wide range of theatrical post-cards and studio photographs, she was noted for her height, voice, presence, graceful figure, attractive features, expressive eyes, and beautiful face.

An audience favourite wherever she went, Jeffries' performances over a decade in New York, London, Australia, and New Zealand met wide critical acclaim; especially in the role of Desdemona in Shakespeare's Othello and, in particular, for her creation of the role of Mercia in Wilson Barrett's masterpiece The Sign of the Cross. On viewing Jeffries' performance (when just 20) as Almida in Claudian, one critic observed:

…” in Maud Jeffries we have an almost ideal Almida. It is emphatically a part for a young girl, and Miss Jeffries made it throb with life and genius. So youthful an actress so capable of feeling, not merely interpreting emotion, ought to and will have a future before her “…


Maud married a wealthy Australian grazier, Boer war veteran, and former aide-de-camp to New Zealand's Governor-General, James Bunbury Nott Osborne (1878-1934). Osborne was so enamoured of Jeffries that he joined her theatrical company in late 1903 in order to press his suit. Engaged in May 1904, they married in October 1904, and had two children together (one of whom died as an infant). Jeffries left the stage in 1906, and continued to live a quiet, very happy life, devoted to her family and her beautifully designed gardens, on their family property, "Bowylie", at Gundaroo, NSW, until her death, at 76 years, of cancer.



The reverse side of the postcard bears a very personal message ...
" Do not wait tonight going home at 12pm. Not too good today " ...
signed with the initials BG ( ? ) ... who is BG you ask ... maybe a lover
or maybe Maud herself using a coded name ...


The fob watch - another relic from the 1800's - has stopped at 2:30 -
a significant time maybe ???...


... and finally at the almost top of the story is another chamber ...


... the door opens to reveal a set of chimes in a golden box ...
chimes that announce the time, or chimes that announce someone at the door
or chimes that sound out a musical tune ...


... and at the apex of the story is a rosette ...


... end of my story - I trust you have your own interpretation ...


... life and love and mere existence are all so fragile ...


 ...  case closed ...



Tuesday, June 30, 2020

A Condottiere


This week's post is all about an historical character,
with just a little bit of fiction thrown in to spice it up ...


This little baby cabinet - measuring just 10 x 10 and standing proud at 35cm ...
started out life as a display / gift box for some sort of bottle ( alcohol presumably ).
 I have rescued it from the dump then covered it with hand-made paper
and used my magic to give it the appearance of aged leather ...


... unfasten the latch and slowly open the door ...


... to reveal the story inside ...


... a friend gave me a pile of circa 1920 art books that once belonged to her mum
and I have committed sacrilege by pulling the books apart
( all in the service of art of course )
- the rescued images may find their way into future artworks
and the pile of wonderful thick 100-year-old paper pages,
well who knows what re-purpose I will find for them ...


A Condottiere - Painting by Lord Frederic Leighton approx. 1870s

The Condottiere were leaders of military companies  ( made up by and large of foreign soldiers ) in the Middle Ages. These companies played an important part in Italian history during the 14th and 15th centuries as they were hired out to carry on the conflicts which constantly arose between the Republican Governments and the powerful lordships which existed, it being deemed much safer for a tyrant who usurped the functions of government to engage a mercenary army to protect and support him, rather than arm his own subjects.

A severe discipline was introduced into the company itself, while in its relations to the people the most barbaric license was allowed. Its members were clad in armour from head to foot; and one of the most famous of the condottiere was Englishman Sir John Hawkwood.

Sir John Hawkwood (c. 1323–1394) - the second son of Gilbert Hawkwood - a gentleman and landowner of "considerable wealth" - was an English soldier who served as a mercenary leader or condottiere in Italy.


This beautiful bucolic scene by an unknown artist is a representation of the privileged and wasted lifestyle our condottiere was born into, but as an adult, rejected to lead a life of raw bloodied adventure in the service of his warring Italian lordships.



The ledges above and below the image of the condottiere contain books and scrolls narrating his many adventures and exciting experiences fighting wars in Italy ...


... while the ledges above and below the image of the spoilt life he left behind in England, whilst paved with gold, are empty dull and purposeless ...



Sir John Hawkwood

His eyes, though sad and maybe longing for a different more settled life,
are nevertheless those of a proud soldier that has seen many conflicts
and hardships, and his hands, stained with the blood of the opponents
who unfortunately got in his way - bear testament to his trade ...
such is the life of a mercenary ...


His exploits made him a man shrouded in myth in both England and Italy. Much of his enduring fame though results from the surviving large and prominent fresco portrait of him in the Duomo, Florence, made in 1436 by Paolo Uccello.

image from Wikipedia
.

... and so another case is closed ...