Monday, January 31, 2011

Flower Study (vanitas) 1/31/11

A more organized person than myself would have started her flower series with this post:

Willem Claesz. Heda, Still Life, 1634, Oil on panel, 16 7/8 x 22 7/8 in., Museum Boymans-van Beuningen, Rotterdam

from H. W. Janson's History of Art on Dutch Baroque still lifes:

"Most Dutch Baroque still lifes treat the theme of Vanitas (the vanity of all earthly things). Overtly or implicitly, they preach the virtue of temperance, frugality, and hard work by admonishing the viewer to contemplate the brevity of life, the inevitability of death, and the passing of all earthly pleasures. The medieval tradition of imbuing everyday objects with religious significance was absorbed into vernacular culture through emblem books which, together with other forms of popular literature and prints, encompassed the prevailing ethic in words and pictures. . . .

The banquet (or breakfast) piece, showing the remnants of a meal, had Vanitas connotations almost from the beginning. The message may lie in such established symbols as death's heads and extinguished candles, or be conveyed by less direct means. Still Life by Willem Claesz. Heda (above) belongs to this widespread type. Food and drink are less emphasized here than luxury objects, such as crystal goblets and silver dishes, which are carefully juxtaposed for their contrasting shape, color, and texture. . . . But virtuosity was not Heda's only aim. He reminds us that all is Vanity. His "story," the human context of these grouped objects, is suggested by the broken glass, the half-peeled lemon, the overturned silver dish. The unstable composition, with its signs of a hasty departure, is itself a reference to transience. Whoever sat at this table has been suddenly forced to abandon the meal. The curtain that time has lowered on the scene, as it were, invests the objects with a strange pathos."
(source for image and quote: History of Art by H. W. Janson - 5th ed., revised and expanded by Anthony F. Janson, published by Prentice Hall, Inc. and Harry N. Abrams, Inc., New York © 1995)


Kym Hepworth, clock, top hat and flowers

Kym Hepworth, clock face with flowers

R.E.M. - Time After Time (AnnElise)

Kym Hepworth, clock, top hat and flowers 2

Kym Hepworth, detail, clock face with flowers 1

Kym Hepworth, detail, clock face with flowers 2

(In case you're wondering, this beautiful floor clock was made by the talented Robert Miller. Flowers and top hat are not included.)

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Flower Study (vanitas) 1/30/11

On weight:

Kym Hepworth, detail, the weight of flowers

Kym Hepworth, more weight

pressed to death: Giles Cory and the Salem Witch Trials, 1692:
"Immediately after the second set of trials an event occurred that was as shocking as anything that had happened during the whole of the witch-hunt. Giles Cory, who had testified against his wife Martha in March and soon afterward had been arrested and examined himself, refused to be tried. He was known for his eccentricity and stubbornness, and his attitude now was fully in character. He claimed that he was innocent but that if he went to trial the same witnesses would be brought against him as at his examination and he was bound to be found guilty. He justly pointed out that no one tried by the Court of Oyer and Terminer had ever been let off. He "rather chose to undergo what death they would put him to," he declared. . . . Sheer disinclination to continue to cooperate with a system that had tricked him into helping hang his own wife may well have been motive enough for his stubbornness.

When Cory was taken to court, either with Martha and others on September 9 or with Ann Foster and the rest on September 17, he would not speak but stood mute at the bar. On September 19 he was taken to some open space, very possibly a field near the courthouse, and made to lie on the ground while rocks were heaped on his chest. The procedure was an old English method of dealing with prisoners who refused to plead. The purpose was to force the word "guilty" or "innocent" out of them.

It must have taken him hours to die. His ribs had to crack before the breath could be squeezed from his lungs. Toward the end Cory's tongue was pressed out of his mouth and the sheriff pushed it back in again with the end of his cane. The rumor has come down through the centuries that the only words Cory would utter were "More weight, more weight." The tradition persisted into the nineteenth century that Cory's ghost walked near the spot where he died. . . . "

(source for quote: A Delusion of Satan: The Full Story of the Salem Witch Trials by Frances Hill; introduction by Karen Armstrong, published by Da Capo Press, New York, © 1995, 1997)

Kym Hepworth, graves, (detail of a Graves B'ham Ala brick/Graves Brick Company, Birmingham, Alabama)

19th century photograph of flowers on a grave from my collection


The Cure - Fire in Cairo
(watching and thinking of Egypt)

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Flower study (vanitas) 1/29/11

On weightlessness:

Kym Hepworth, light as a feather, stiff as a board

Sven Turck (1897-1954, Denmark), Levitation of a table, 1940-45, 22.3 x 29.5 cm., Gelatin silver print
(image source: The Perfect Medium: Photography and the Occult by Clément Chéroux and Andreas Fischer, et al., published by Yale University Press, New Haven, CT © 2005)

Kym Hepworth, the weight of a flower


Kym Hepworth, ghost

Kym Hepworth, apparition

Kym Hepworth, detail, apparition

Kym Hepworth, behind the veil

Friday, January 28, 2011

Flower Study (vanitas) 1/28/11

"The color of the flowers
has faded
while I contemplated it,
as my body
passed through the world."

- Ono no Komachi (834-880)

Kym Hepworth, detail of quilt 1

Kym Hepworth, daffodils, stripes and shadows

Kym Hepworth, detail of quilt 2

Kym Hepworth, daffodils and stars

Kym Hepworth, detail of quilt 3

Happy Friday!

Robin and I went to see Yo La Tengo in Jacksonville, FL on Wednesday (the tickets were a Christmas present from Robin). It was well worth any loss of hearing - we loved them!!!

Yo La Tengo - Stockholm Syndrome

Yo La Tengo - Decora (live)

Yo La Tengo - Decora

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Flower Study (vanitas) 1/27/11

Kym Hepworth, daffodils in the rain

Kym Hepworth, raindrops on yellow vase

Kym Hepworth, time

Kym Hepworth, shadows

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Flower Study (vanitas) 1/26/11

playing with complementary colors:

Kym Hepworth, daffodils with purple lights

Kym Hepworth, yellow vase with purple lights

playing with Photoshop to create a different mood:

Kym Hepworth, inferno

Kym Hepworth, fairyland

I'm not the only one who has tried to capture an image of the wee folk through photography: Cottingley Fairies:

photograph by Frances Griffiths, Fairy Offering a Posy to Elsie

little pranksters!

Elvis Costello - Clowntime is Over

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Flower Study (vanitas) 1/25/11

Victorian mourning card from my collection

"The art and jewelry of the Victorian era was heavily laden with images of symbolism. By understanding the symbolic meaning of various flowers, gem stones, tombstones, and other objects, we are better able to interpret the important intended messages of the items.

The "language of flowers" symbolized love, devotion, adoration and other cherished thought in the sentimental Victorian era. Flowers and leaves were the chief symbols used to decorate Victorian jewelry. This was also a reflection of their love of all things outdoors and having to do with nature."
The daffodil symbolized regard:

page from The Language of Flowers by Margaret Pickston © 1968

Kym Hepworth, melancholy daffodil

Kym Hepworth, daffodil in mourning


The Widow's Lament in Springtime

Sorrow is my own yard
where the new grass
flames as it has flamed
often before but not
with the cold fire
that closes round me this year.
Thirtyfive years
I lived with my husband.
The plumtree is white today
with masses of flowers.
Masses of flowers
load the cherry branches
and color some bushes
yellow and some red
but the grief in my heart
is stronger than they
for though they were my joy
formerly, today I notice them
and turn away forgetting.
Today my son told me
that in the meadows,
at the edge of the heavy woods
in the distance, he saw
trees of white flowers.
I feel that I would like
to go there
and fall into those flowers
and sink into the marsh near them.

- William Carlos Williams


Kym Hepworth, rise!

(Source for quote: Fashionable Mourning Jewelry, Clothing & Customs by Mary Brett, published by Schiffer Publishing Ltd., Atglen, PA © 2006; Source for poem: William Carlos Williams: Selected Poems, edited with an introduction by Charles Tomlinson, published by New Directions Publishing Corporation, New York © 1985)

Monday, January 24, 2011

Flower Study (vanitas) 1/24/11

Kym Hepworth, Emily Dickinson (yellow)

"Nature rarer uses yellow
Than another hue;
Saves she all of that for sunsets, -
Prodigal of blue,

Spending scarlet like a woman,
Yellow she affords
Only scantly and selectly,
Like a lover's words."

- Emily Dickinson

Kym Hepworth, study of yellow in nature

Kym Hepworth, dance of the daffodil

(source for poem: Collected Poems of Emily Dickinson, original editions edited by Mabel Loomis Todd and T. W. Higginson; introduction by George Gesner, published by Avenel Books, New York © 1982)

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Flower Study (vanitas) 1/23/11

Kym Hepworth, Kiki with daffodil

"That was different

My girlhood then
was in full bloom
and you---"

(source for poem: Sappho: A New Translation by Mary Barnard, University of California Press, Berkeley, CA ©1958)

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Flower Study (vanitas) 1/22/11

Here's something I like to think about:

Kym Hepworth, French vocabulary card: to think of, to dream of

Kym Hepworth, dictionary 1942

Ye olde Funk & Wagnalls dictionary (above) defines the word preserve as follows:

1. To keep in safety; guard or rescue from destruction, death, loss, or detriment; protect from harm; save.

2. To maintain intact or unimpaired; keep in the same condition; keep up; as, he preserved his composure.

3. To save from decay; prepare so as to resist decomposition or change: as, to preserve fruit.

4. To retain, as in use or memory; keep.

Syn.: conserve, defend, guard, keep, keep safe, keep sound, keep whole, maintain, protect, save, secure, sustain, uphold

Ant.: abandon, let go, let spoil, lose, neglect, throw away

However, sometimes it's necessary to change the condition of an object in order to retain it's memory . . .

Kym Hepworth, French vocabulary card: sure, safe

Kym Hepworth, garden shear

Kym Hepworth, French vocabulary card: to extend

Kym Hepworth, the first cut

Kym Hepworth, bleeding flower

Kym Hepworth, French vocabulary card: to hold, to keep, to remain

Kym Hepworth, daffodil inside preserving jar

Kym Hepworth, detail, daffodil inside preserving jar

Kym Hepworth, French vocabulary card: to remember

Kym Hepworth, pressing a flower (or the act of simulation)

Kym Hepworth, dictionary 1942

I also like to think about cycles and repetition (above).

The Original Carter Family - Wildwood Flower