Friday, 25 October 2013

Mark Hearld's Work Book: A Delightful World of Nature By A Modern British Artist

This lavish, full-colour book packed with the work of Yorkshire artist Mark Hearld is a feast for the eyes and full of images to inspire one to get busy with the paints.  I first heard of Mark Hearld about three years ago or so and instantly was attracted to his work, and this book was a much desired Christmas present last year, and the first book I read this year.  At the time I found out about his art I quickly discovered some other contemporary artists and for me it was a change to actually admire artists who were alive, as I'd always only been interested in centuries old paintings and artists long gone and had a dislike for most modern art, but this is modern art of a very different type, for this is art inspired by nature and a certain kind of folk art cosiness, not (for me) the scary and incomprehensible modern art of an abstract and cold, hard style with obscure meaning that I was forced to learn a bit about in college.  In more recent years I discovered how limited my art education had been concerning certain times and movements and have tried to make up for it somewhat.  So much of what I had to study I had a strong distaste for, which is a shame for, as unlike the views of some, I believe art should be beautiful, or at least attractive.  I want nothing to do with ugliness in artistic creations, there is enough ugliness in modern society without adding to it, we need good things. 

Mark Hearld's book (which I suspect will be the first of many as he is so amazingly prolific) is full of good things, an abundance of paintings, pottery, linocuts, woodcuts and collages of brightness and charm, many having a look of freedom and looseness in the execution (like the forces of nature such as wind and rain), although other pieces are of a much more controlled and arranged form.  His pictures sometimes look deceptively simplistic, yet when you look further more and more impressive details come into view.

I heartily recommend this book to anyone who likes animal and nature-inspired art or mid-century British art, which is the main inspiration of Mark Hearld.  I do hope a workbook volume two will be published in the near future.
Here are two wonderful videos about Mark Hearld's work:

Friday, 4 October 2013

Forest's Robe: Autumn Verses


Forest's Robe- Penhaligon's Scented Treasury Of Autumn Verse And Prose, edited by Sheila Pickles, is a lovely little book that I've had in my collection for quite a few years.  It is one of those pretty little hardcover books full of old poems, prose and beautiful paintings, this one being all related to Autumn.  Evocative titles of pieces include:  A Mellow Afternoon, Autumnal, The Hayloft, Apple-Picking, The Plough, Autumn Fires, Harvest Time, Wild Plum Jam, Through the Woods, October, Michaelmas Daisies, Gathering Leaves, Apple Harvest...

The book is indeed scented, after all those years that beautiful soft scent is still there.  Having a very sensitive nose and exceptionally keen sense of smell, I usually cannot abide perfume, but this scent is so lovely that it does not irritate, it is a comforting scent.  Here is the description in the back of the book:

"Penhaligon's autumn pot-pourri is called Forest's Robe, composed of the bark, oakmoss, pine cones and other treasures of the forest floor.
Oakmoss is gathered from the old oak forests of Eastern Europe and buckthorn bark comes from the great trees of North America.  These are mixed with cypress cones, bay and uva ursi leaves, bakuli nuts from Malaysia, alder seed pods and cassurina cones from the Mediterranean.
With its natural blend of wood and moss, Forest's Robe has a beguiling green scent which perfumes the endpapers of this book and perfectly captures the spirit of autumn."

Autumn is my favourite season of the year; its special, subtle, quieter charms can delight more than other seasons, although there is boldness in the bright turning of leaves and vibrant flowers that demand to be noticed.

Who could resist a fresh, sweet and fragrant apple? 
Here is an excerpt, from 'A Year in a Lancashire Garden' by Henry A. Bright, 1891:


"Our Apple harvest has been over for nearly a fortnight; but how pleasant the orchard was while it lasted, and how pleasant the seat in the corner by the Limes, whence we see the distant spire on the green wooded slopes.  The grey, gnarled old apple-trees have, for the most part, done well.  The Ribston Pippins are especially fine, and so is an apple, which we believe to be the King of the Pippins.....Indeed all eating apples, with but few exceptions, are best when freshly gathered, or, better still, when, on some clear soft day. they have just fallen on the grass, and lie there, warmed by the rays of the autumn sun."