Sunday, 30 December 2007

Marine marvels

One of my major interests is the illustration of fish and other sea animals as depicted in the 15th to the 18th centuries. Authors of natural history encyclopaedias include Gesner, Aldrovandi, Lycosthenes, Rondolet and Renard, and while they used the best illustrators available to them at the time, often the artist was drawing the animal from a very decayed specimen, or relying on a description from someone who may have seen the living animal, or they simply fell back on to using their imagination. Consequently many fish drawn in the 16th century are recognisable today, while others are delightful fantasies in both colour and form.

An example is this illustration of whales from Conrad Lycosthenes' Prodigiorum ac Ostentorum Chronicon... published in 1557, a chronological history of the known world from the Garden of Eden, through the birth of Christ, to the year of publication. This is a detail from a two page spread depicting the terrors of the seas.

I'm no artist, but I do enjoy having a go at redrawing some of the more fanciful marine life and I'll probably put some on this site when I get a bit more courage. I made some tiny books during 2006 with photos of baby Sophia for family members and some of my drawings for friends .

Saturday, 29 December 2007

My title illustration is a slot book

I've been asked about the book illustrated at the head of my blog. I made this "slot book", which I believe was originated by John Wood, while at a week long workshop with Adele Outteridge and Wim de Vos at their Studio West End in January 2006. The book really does slot together, has folded covers, and is completely non-adhesive. The pages were torn with a palette knife which produced tiny curls. Wim, printmaker and perspex guru, made a perspex box for my little book to protect the curls. Studio West End is in Brisbane - 35 Mollison Street, West End, 4101, Queensland, Australia.

Friday, 28 December 2007

Not quite so happy this morning...

Sad this morning to wake to the news that Benazir Bhutto, Opposition Leader in Pakistan, has been assassinated. I know we generally wake to bad news but I've been impressed with the courage of this woman and also that of Aung San Suu Kyi of Burma. To put your life on the line for your country as they, and countless other women do, fills me with awe and makes me appreciate the freedom and wonderful lifestyle we have here in Australia.

Thursday, 27 December 2007

A happy ending to 2007

Setting up this blog is more stressful than I anticipated, mainly because I don't seem to be able to make a sensible decision about size, colour or layout. I think it will be a case of trial and error for a while. I'm certainly not sure why I'm doing this but I hope it will be an impetus towards working on my web page. I've had the empty site and domain name for 4 years so it's about time I made a move.

Christmas has been wonderful, two days with my family, and made especially memorable because my 91 year old mother Lina was there with my 22 month old grand daughter Sophia. They get on well and there will be plenty of photographs and videos of them together so that Sophia will always be able to remember her Great Grandma.

We have clung to some family traditions from our Viennese background. Lina has always made Viennese biscuits and Christmas bread and her mother, Mizzi, who lived into her 90s, was always the apfel streudl maker. Somehow Lina and I never mastered the streudl, mainly because Nana guarded the secret, but this Christmas, Suzy my daughter made the biscuits and bread, and Karen my daughter-in-law, made the streudl. What fantastic young women! Sophia will be learning as soon as she can wield a rolling pin and pastry brush.