Wednesday, 19 September 2018

People on stamps take up new roles in my Stamp Collage pictures

Fisherman near Naples
Car worker in Turin
I always like to make connections between my work as a Stamp Collage artist and the content of the stamps I'm using in my pictures. (The less than perfect specimen on the right, which would not appeal to a serious collector, would be a prime candidate for future work  as I prefer not to use stamps in top condition.)   I  use stamps with people on to form crews and passengers on ships, and  for "peopling" a landscape or crowd. Some stamps spring easily to mind, including this series of 17 stamps issued in Italy in 1950  known as Italia al lavoro  or Italy at Work.   Each one shows a person at work in the region known for  their particular trade, such as these shown here.
There is a  rather ancient looking automobile to the right of the I Lira design( above right), as Turin is the home of the Fiat motor company,  and in the background is a view of the mountains of  Piemonte. Having recently visited Naples and gazed daily on the wonderful view of Mount Vesuvius across the bay,  it was only today that I noticed in the 20 Lira  stamp shown above left, that in the background is Mount Vesuvius itself.  Surprisingly this Neapolitan  fisherman has not actually appeared on any of my ships, and I think this may be because he looks far too laid back,  leaning against  the ropes of his boat, whereas my "crews" have all been hard at work on various tasks.  I have used him as one of the characters peering out from between the pillars of the Leaning tower of Pisa though,  and he may well reappear in future in another role!
Detail from Leaning Tower of Pisa - see Landmarks on
Tor read and see photos relating to the making of the Leaning Tower of Pisa collage please see my blog post of 10th March 2013.  Please note that the original of this was sold during my last exhibition at Gloucester Guildhall that year, but full size prints are available.

Sunday, 16 September 2018

Italian fountains - also on stamps, and appearing in special commissions!

Although we had plenty of maps, it seems as though we got lost on a daily basis in Naples, but  it had its compensations!  On a circuitous route to the docks to catch a ferry, we came across this beautiful fountain, the Immacolatella,otherwise known as the Fountain of the Giant,  and I recognised it  as being on an Italian stamp I'd incorporated into a stamp collage commission last year.
The recipient was being taken on a surprise trip to Naples for a significant birthday, and I included it in the flag of Uganda as the brief was to include significant places and interests in the flag!
The fountain,  designed by Michaelangelo Naccherino and Pietro Bernini in the 17th century and now  stands near the Castel d'Ovo on the coast.  The Fountain of the Giant in Naples  is in a beautiful location, but is suffering from neglect and could certainly do with some TLC and more publicity.
A series of stamps was issued in 1973 depicting fountains including these three in Naples, Rome and Palermo.

Fontana della Immacolatella, or Fountain of the Giant, in Naples

Saturday, 15 September 2018

The White Heather - Stamp Collage Original and Prints on show

Currently on show at The Old Passage Arlingham is the exhibition "Between Seeing and Dreaming", featuring work by  artists working in a variety of media including painting, photography, jewellery, sculpture, ceramics and not forgetting my own stamp collages, of which The White Heather is one. At the Old Passage I've included a framed print, and the original can shortly be seen in my new exhibition, Stamping Ground 2, at Gloucester Guildhall from 2nd October,  until 30th October. in the exhibition hall.

The White Heather is a Cornish Lugger built in 1926, originally operating out of Mevagissy and fishing from Falmouth before being laid up on the River Fal for many years.  From 1988 she was running sailing trips from Fowey in Cornwall.  I was pleased to go on board this beautiful old lugger, one of only a dozen still surviving, when she was in Gloucester Docks in 2017 for the bi-annual Tall Ships Festival. We heard that she has sailed to Morocco and Brazil before returning to Britain via the Caribbean, but is now undergoing refitting in the docks.
In this picture I've used stamps, envelopes, thread for the rigging and even words from an old stamp album.

Friday, 11 May 2018

The Frigate Dom Fernando II E Gloria - Stamp collage inspired by a visit to Lisbon Maritime Museum

I went through a rather unproductive phase, in terms of actually making new work over the latter part 2017. But Spring has brought with it new energy, and ideas stored up over some years are now emerging in the form of new collages, including this one of the Frigate Dom Fernando II e Gloria. 

In November 2014, we made our first visit to Lisbon, and my love of ships as a subject for pictures  took us to the Maritime Museum in the Belem area, home also to the Monument of the Discoveries mentioned in a previous blog of  October 2016.The  museum houses a vast collection of  paintings and models of ships including this one of the Dom Fernando II e Gloria.
The museum also owns several paintings  including one by Roger Chapelet showing her in full sail, which has been useful in the making of my own stamp collage picture, featured here.
Stamps and  envelopes have been incorporated in this collage with the sky painted in watercolour and the rigging ink and pencil. As always, finding a crew was an interesting  challenge!This fully rigged  ship  built of teak in India in 1843 was the last frigate of the navy.  On her maiden voyage from Goa to Lisbon in 1845 she was armed with 18 guns.  She was used for transporting cargo, troops, passengers and "deportees to Angola and Mozambique". She was also used as a Naval artillery school and school of seamanship from 1865 until 1937.  She was partially destroyed by a fire in 1963 when she was the HQ of a children's home. In 1990 rebuilding commenced, to be  completed in 1998, and she can now be visited near Aveiro.  I hope to be able to do this one day!

 I discovered that the Dom Fernando II e Gloria  also features on Portuguese stamps issued in 1997.

Thursday, 10 May 2018

John Piper - Liverpool Metropolitan cathedral, art and stamps - Inspiring!

A few years ago I  enjoyed the exhibition "John Piper in the 1930s - Abstraction on the Beach" at Dulwich Picture Gallery, so I  was pleased to find another exhibition of his work this year at Tate Liverpool, featuring collages, and other mixed media artworks. This was one of the highlights of our recent stay in this wonderful city, and a film about Piper's and  Rutyens' designs  for  stained glass for the Catholic cathedral, prompted us to revisit this awe inspiring  building!

In my own work using stamps in collages I have become familiar with subjects of stamps and noted that one of John Piper's paintings from 1940 also appeared  on a British stamp issued in 1968,
the church of St Mary Le  Port, Bristol  badly bombed in WW2.

The Metropolitan Cathedral was also the subject of a stamp as part of the British Cathedrals series of 1969, with a value of 1/6d.  Pre-Decimal Currency. 

John Piper used all sorts of materials in his work, including matchbox labels, paper doilies, string, wallpaper, but as far as I know, never postage stamps.  Visiting Liverpool and having seen this latest exhibition, some of the small craft moored in the Albert Dock also seemed  reminiscent of vessels featured in some of his work.  My own ship themed collages completed since seeing this exhibition, now also incorporate a few new materials, such as cotton and scrim for the rigging and additional painted elements.Matchbox labels? Not yet, but see my Ships page of for latest collages. Thank you John Piper for the inspiration!

Monday, 30 April 2018

Monet and Architecture - Inspirational exhibition at the National Gallery in London until end July

The current exhibition was a wonderful reminder  of past experiences of seeing Monet's paintings and the locations which feature in his work, as well as discovering work I had never  seen before. Most of all, I enjoyed  comparing five versions of Rouen cathedral.   From  the upstairs room in a clothes shop opposite the cathedral, Monet painted more than 30 canvases over a period of two years, 1892-3,.setting  up his easel, screened off from the daily business of the shop. Although photography was, surprisingly, permitted at the NG, I did not take any photos while there, but include some of the images taken from a catalogue of a previous exhibition.   On a family holiday in 2010 we visited the cathedral in Rouen and also an exhibition of impressionist paintings at the Musee des Beaux Art.

Stamp issued in 1957 
Other memories  re-emerged on seeing Monet's paintings of the Normandy
coast in the NG.  Shown below right,  is  a fisherman's cottage on the clifftop near Varengeville, whose church we also visited in 2006.   In the churchyard is a wonderful mosaic dove on the grave of Georges Braque, whose friend Raoul Ubac  designed some of the stained glass windows in the church,  The area has associations with many artists.

Rouen Cathedral and one of the many paintings by Monet 
Monet's atmospheric paintings of Venice and London in  the mist and fog  also feature in the exhibition., together with  exotic gardens of  Italy and the South of France, but all in relation to architectural elements.  Most enjoyable!

Sunday, 29 April 2018

Send a postcard - brighten someone's day!

As a stamp collector and traveller,  I appreciate very much receiving postcards,  but it doesn't happen so much these days and when it does, it's a real treat.  Internet, social media, whatsapp,  have provided instant ways to communicate, from almost everywhere that has wi-fi.  I do this too,  but I always try to find a few interesting postcards to send, provided I can locate a post office. On a 10 day trip around the Baltic capital cities of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia I was lucky  to find cards, stamps and post offices!

In Vilnius, I purchased two rather lovely woollen jumpers at bargain prices but soon realised they would be too heavy and bulky to included in our luggage, so had to find a Post office in order to send them home. It had interesting Commemorative stamps on sale, but sadly I wasn't able to put these on my parcel, having to make do with a rather boring label and customs declaration!  The jumpers arrived  home long before we did though! The postcards were sent a few day later, from a  post box near the main bus depot, but  took much longer to arrive at their various destinations.

The historic post office in Tallinn, opposite the Cathedral, was a beautiful building, and also had a wonderful selection of postcards and a wide range of beautiful Estonian stamps, and  this proved to be a very efficient postal service!