Random Image: John Philip Wagner

A reader just shared this sensuous image of fairies.

John Philip Wagner - Fairy Sandcastles (Date Unknown)

John Philip Wagner – Fairy Sandcastles (Date Unknown)

John Philip Wagner was born in Philadelphia in 1943, got his Bachelor’s in Fine Arts at the Philadelphia College of Art and his Masters at the Maryland Institute College of Art. He also studied with David Hare and Dennis Leon. As a child, he plastered the walls of his elementary school with paintings of Egyptian pyramids and Roman ships and later studied the theater arts, painting, sculpture and printmaking. He resides in the American Southwest, having lived in New Mexico and then southern Colorado, adding Native American and Southwestern Art to his repertoire. While in Santa Fe, he created the first version of the puppet theater known as “Wagner Marionettes”. Since then, he spent much time entertaining children with his little players on string. In 2005, he was charged with sexual assault of a 4-year-old girl, claiming that he touched her buttocks. Found on his computer were nude photos of the girl the artist says were used for reference. The mother denies giving her consent for these photographs. There is no information about a hearing or trial but, presumably, he agreed to a plea bargain as he was required to register as a sex offender. He no longer has his own website and sells his beautiful art through CafePress. Categories of interest include Fairy Art and Angel Art.

Delphine Blais

After Alexandre Lamotte, I will present another painter from Carré d’artistes.

Delphine Blais was born on February 15th, 1971 in Rouen (Northwestern France). She soon developed a taste for drawing, painting and sculpture. In 1993 she obtained a Bachelor of Arts in Bordeaux (Southwestern France). Her art career was interspersed with raising two children in the early 2000s and then animating art workshops for children as well as adults.

Her technique mixes collage with acrylic painting. She glues on a support little pieces of various old material, in particular found in flea markets: wallpaper, handwritten letters, vintage photographs, fabric or lace. Then she paints over them figures of women made of successive layers of colour. In her Carré d’artistes webpage, they have been compared to stalagmites (although I tend to think rather of a kebab). On top of their elongated body stands a tiny minimalist head. Thus all emotions are conveyed by the colours and by the posture and movement of the body.

I bought one of her works, which shows a painted woman beside a vintage photograph of a little girl. It is a painted collage on a 13cm×13cm cardboard, itself glued to a larger white support that I surrounded by a black frame. Here is the photograph I took from it; I cropped it slightly outside the collage, so that one can see its irregular border and its relief above the support.

Delphine Blais - Angèle (c2016)

Delphine Blais – Angèle (c2016)

I show next reproductions of two other of her painted collages, from her Carré d’artistes webpage; I chose them because they also mix painted women with vintage photographs of little girls. The first one is 13cm×13cm, the second one is 19cm×19cm.

Delphine Blais - Félicie (c2016)

Delphine Blais – Félicie (c2016)

Delphine Blais - Suzanne (c2016)

Delphine Blais – Suzanne (c2016)

Finally I show a picture of the artist at work, from the information leaflet about her made by Carré d’artistes:

(Unknown photographer) – Delphine Blais at work

(Unknown photographer) – Delphine Blais at work

Links:

A Little Girl’s Guide to Personality: Avril Podmore

Among the items in Stuart’s extensive private collection are items that were never published, but are nonetheless interesting. It is wonderful to have the opportunity to publish things like this that would ordinarily never see the light of day.

This little book of drawings was made by a little girl from the ages of 8 to 10. There were a total of 30 images in the book, but these were a few of the interesting examples sent to me. It is so touching to see a young person putting so much effort into something like this.

Avril Podmoor - Drawing Book (Title Page) (1920--1922)

Avril Podmore – Drawing Book (Title Page) (1920–1922)

Avril Podmoor - Drawing Book (1920--1922) (1)

Avril Podmore – Drawing Book (1920–1922) (1)

It is remarkable how easily a child assimilates the stereotypes of her culture. This would be considered politically incorrect today and there is some speculation that this particular stereotype was, in part, devised to keep Black people “in their place”.

Avril Podmoor - Drawing Book (1920--1922) (2)

Avril Podmore – Drawing Book (1920–1922) (2)

Another personality type that I’m sure many girls can relate to is this compulsively proper type. Sure, she seems to miss out on all the fun but what’s worse: she tends to grow up and make life miserable for everyone else.

Avril Podmoor - Drawing Book (1920--1922) (3)

Avril Podmore – Drawing Book (1920–1922) (3)

And even in the dreary winter, a girl can use fantasy to make things more cheery.

Avril Podmoor - Drawing Book (1920--1922) (4)

Avril Podmore – Drawing Book (1920–1922) (4)

If a more suitable dance partner is not available, Teddy will do.

Avril Podmoor - Drawing Book (1920--1922) (5)

Avril Podmore – Drawing Book (1920–1922) (5)

A Fairy Tale Subverted: Victoria Ying’s ‘Il Lupo’

One thing I love is stories, illustrations, films or what have you where the paradigm of the little girl in distress is turned on its head. These can be taken as feminist parables, or simply as a recognition of the fact that human beings often do not conform to expectations. Ying’s Il Lupo offers up a complete subversion of the familiar ‘little girl lost in the woods’ trope, and it does so in a rather surprising way. I am posting the first two pages here; to read the rest of it (it’s only ten pages long and a quick read), you must go here. Don’t miss this one—I think you’ll enjoy it as much as I did, and Ying really deserves the traffic at her site. Do yourself a favor and read this comic!

Victoria Ying - Il Lupo (page 1)

Victoria Ying – Il Lupo (page 1)

Victoria Ying - Il Lupo (page 2)

Victoria Ying – Il Lupo (page 2)

 

The Way to a Man’s Heart: Du Sel sur la Peau

The problem with tracking down obscure films is that they are often neglected. In this case, those who run the company (Belga Films) that owns the rights to Du Sel sur la Peau (1984) (Belgian-French, Salt on the Skin), know nothing about it. If a master of the film does exist in a vault somewhere, it will probably stay there deteriorating. Even the director, Jean-Marie Degèsves, cannot be appealed to because he died in 1999. In 1986, the movie was released in VHS (with hard-coded French subtitles) and that is the only version available. A reader in France graciously summarized the plot since there are no English subtitles available.

The story revolves around three characters. Julien (Richard Bohringer) is a well-to-do bachelor with a number of expensive hobbies like photography and collecting and building model trains, helicopters and boats. His mother seems to have the run of the house—cooking and doing the laundry for him—and eager for him to settle down and have a family. Charlotte (Catherine Frot) and her 9-year-old daughter Juliette (Anne Clignet) break down near his house. Being free-spirited individuals, they decide to cool off in Julien’s above ground pool.

Jean-Marie Degèsves - Du Sel sur la Peau (1984) (1)

Jean-Marie Degèsves – Du Sel sur la Peau (1984) (1)

He is irritated by this and confronts them. But despite this, he invites them in to dry off and make arrangements to repair their vehicle.

Jean-Marie Degèsves - Du Sel sur la Peau (1984) (2)

Jean-Marie Degèsves – Du Sel sur la Peau (1984) (2)

Jean-Marie Degèsves - Du Sel sur la Peau (1984) (3)

Jean-Marie Degèsves – Du Sel sur la Peau (1984) (3)

Juliette has a refreshing childlike frankness and Julien seems quite charmed by her. So even though it has been an imposition, he decides to lend them 3000 Belgian francs to pay the repair bill. That night he gets a call from Charlotte telling him that Juliette is upset because she left her teddy bear in the car and could he retrieve it for her. Finding the bear, he looks at the ratty old thing with disdain and tosses it into the trash. The next day, he purchases a brand new one and goes to give it to her. At first she is upset with him because that bear had sentimental value but she forgives him.

Jean-Marie Degèsves - Du Sel sur la Peau (1984) (4)

Jean-Marie Degèsves – Du Sel sur la Peau (1984) (4)

Juliette invites him inside and he learns that she is often left alone in the house when her mother works. She takes him to her room to reveal a cache of stuffed animals.

Jean-Marie Degèsves - Du Sel sur la Peau (1984) (5)

Jean-Marie Degèsves – Du Sel sur la Peau (1984) (5)

Charlotte works at a hospital that gives long-term care to the elderly and is dating the doctor. One of her co-workers, Mireille,‭ ‬has been posing nude to make extra money on the side. Julien belongs to a photo club for which Mireille has posed and the members admire the photos. The club wants to plan an exhibition and probably at Julien’s prompting, they decide to go with the theme ‭”childhood”.

‭One night, ‬Juliette is left at her grandparents and we see that stuffed animals are regularly given as presents.

Jean-Marie Degèsves - Du Sel sur la Peau (1984) (6)

Jean-Marie Degèsves – Du Sel sur la Peau (1984) (6)

‭Mother and daughter find ‬Julien in his garden playing with one of his remote control helicopters. He shows Juliette his other models and gives her a ship as a gift. She also learns that he has a photography studio. He asks if he may take photos of Juliette, perhaps as compensation for the outstanding debt. The girl is very excited by the idea and they go into his studio to do the shoot.

Jean-Marie Degèsves - Du Sel sur la Peau (1984) (7)

Jean-Marie Degèsves – Du Sel sur la Peau (1984) (7)

He promises to send copies. Since they had been planning a trip to the beach, he is given the address of the hotel where they would be staying. Instead of mailing the photos, he checks into the hotel himself. Next we see him taking surreptitious shots of Juliette at the beach with some of her friends.

Jean-Marie Degèsves - Du Sel sur la Peau (1984) (8)

Jean-Marie Degèsves – Du Sel sur la Peau (1984) (8)

Jean-Marie Degèsves - Du Sel sur la Peau (1984) (9)

Jean-Marie Degèsves – Du Sel sur la Peau (1984) (9)

Noticing that there is no postage on the envelope, Charlotte realizes that Julien has checked in and the pair go to the room to thank him for the photos.

Jean-Marie Degèsves - Du Sel sur la Peau (1984) (10)

Jean-Marie Degèsves – Du Sel sur la Peau (1984) (10)

Charlotte and Juliette are taking a bath together,‭ ‬but they can’t get the tap to turn off.

Jean-Marie Degèsves - Du Sel sur la Peau (1984) (11)

Jean-Marie Degèsves – Du Sel sur la Peau (1984) (11)

The girl is told to ask the reception desk for help but, instead, Juliette runs naked down to Julien’s room to get his help.

Jean-Marie Degèsves - Du Sel sur la Peau (1984) (12)

Jean-Marie Degèsves – Du Sel sur la Peau (1984) (12)

Jean-Marie Degèsves - Du Sel sur la Peau (1984) (13)

Jean-Marie Degèsves – Du Sel sur la Peau (1984) (13)

Later at the hotel bar, Charlotte is unhappy because the doctor she was seeing did not show up as planned. She complains about how men only do things when they want something, not really respecting women for who they are. They only like women when they are in photos. This was meant to imply that Julien’s motives are far from noble.

When Julien returns home, he find his mother worried about where he has been and had invited one of his old friends by for a visit. Though Julien finds her plain and dull, his mother insists they are a perfect astrological match. To get his mother off his back, he tells her rather facetiously that there is already a new girl in his life and she is 9‭ ‬years old!

Julien has bought ice cream for Juliette‭ ‬and, to better display her books and other treasures, some shelves which he installs in her bedroom. It is not clear when Julien revealed the beach shots, but he must have at this point because one of them can be seen posted on the wall.

Jean-Marie Degèsves - Du Sel sur la Peau (1984) (14)

Jean-Marie Degèsves – Du Sel sur la Peau (1984) (14)

Charlotte’s doctor friend tries to make amends for his oversight, but she snubs him. Returning home, she confronts Julien about why he is lavishing so much attention on Juliette, assuming it is some kind of statement about her poor parenting. Julien simply evades the issue telling her it is his way of paying for the pictures—perhaps referring to the ones he took secretly.

Jean-Marie Degèsves - Du Sel sur la Peau (1984) (15)

Jean-Marie Degèsves – Du Sel sur la Peau (1984) (15)

Charlotte’s estranged husband—and Juliette’s father—suddenly shows up in Brussels to visit and tries to convince them to live in Nice with him. While her parents are talking, Juliette sneaks off to pay a call on Julien. On her way, she explains to a bemused woman on the bus that she is visiting her boyfriend. Upon her arrival, she finds him playing with his helicopter.

Jean-Marie Degèsves - Du Sel sur la Peau (1984) (16)

Jean-Marie Degèsves – Du Sel sur la Peau (1984) (16)

He is startled when she creeps up on him and tickles him and he crashes his helicopter in the pool. Impulsively, he slaps her and she cries that “N‬obody loves me‭!” She ‬jumps into the pool to retrieve his model and he jumps in after her.

Jean-Marie Degèsves - Du Sel sur la Peau (1984) (17)

Jean-Marie Degèsves – Du Sel sur la Peau (1984) (17)

Julien then brings her into the house to dry her off. His mother arrives just as Juliette emerges with a towel wrapped around her. She starts to think that maybe her son really is having an affair with a 9-year-old. When Juliette explains that he had only been taking pictures of her, the mother storms out telling him he should have his head examined.

Jean-Marie Degèsves - Du Sel sur la Peau (1984) (18)

Jean-Marie Degèsves – Du Sel sur la Peau (1984) (18)

Jean-Marie Degèsves - Du Sel sur la Peau (1984) (19)

Jean-Marie Degèsves – Du Sel sur la Peau (1984) (19)

Juliette calls her mother to come pick her up in the evening. The two spend time together and horse around the house until bedtime.

Jean-Marie Degèsves - Du Sel sur la Peau (1984) (20)

Jean-Marie Degèsves – Du Sel sur la Peau (1984) (20)

Julien prepares the guest room for her but she wants to sleep with him. He explains that such things are not done. She explains that this is how it is done in the movies and that they must first make love. She pushes him onto the bed and kisses him on the forehead before jumping up to go to bed. At this time he presents her with a large brown teddy bear.

Jean-Marie Degèsves - Du Sel sur la Peau (1984) (21)

Jean-Marie Degèsves – Du Sel sur la Peau (1984) (21)

Jean-Marie Degèsves - Du Sel sur la Peau (1984) (22)

Jean-Marie Degèsves – Du Sel sur la Peau (1984) (22)

Charlotte is confused and upset by the latest developments. When she comes to pick up Juliette, she tries to talk with Julien about it, but he doesn’t really want to. It is 2 a.m. and Juliette is fast asleep. Charlotte agrees to stay the night and Julien sleeps on the sofa. By the time he wakes up in the morning, the two of them are gone. They arrive later in the morning to have breakfast with him. It is clear that Julien and Charlotte are really starting to bond.

Jean-Marie Degèsves - Du Sel sur la Peau (1984) (23)

Jean-Marie Degèsves – Du Sel sur la Peau (1984) (23)

That day at work, one of Juliette’s photos drops out of a folder.‭ To cover up, he tells h‬is coworkers that it is his daughter. They tease him a bit about having secret affairs and he adds that he is a single father. Returning home, he finds Juliette,‭ ‬Charlotte and his mother together at the door. His mother looks very pleased and says she knows everything now. She adds that the astrological signs are quite auspicious.

Jean-Marie Degèsves - Du Sel sur la Peau (1984) (24)

Jean-Marie Degèsves – Du Sel sur la Peau (1984) (24)

Certainly this is no blockbuster; the plot is confused and the whole point seems to be to show how a little girl’s charm can open doors and give us hope for a happy ending. The Juliette character—apart from serving as a sort of anima figure—was an important catalyst, able to say and do things the rules of polite adult society would not allow.

A Slightly Different Take on the Pin-Up: Edward D’Ancona

From roughly the late Victorian era to the early 1960s there was a pop art phenomenon known as pin-up art.  These could be paintings, illustrations or photos.  The images were generally very simple representations of attractive women, often scantily clad or even nude, and posed erotically. Obviously these were aimed at men and adolescent boys and were intended to be pinned up in clubhouses, garages and the like (hence the name). Among the more prominent artists in this field were Alberto Vargas, Art Frahm, Gil Elvgren and George Petty, but a ton of artists produced pin-up art, some of them quite skillful. Among them was one Edward D’Ancona.

Not much is known about D’Ancona.  The bulk of his work as a pin-up artist was produced from the mid ’30s till the end of the ’50s, after which he apparently switched to more family-friendly fare, though not much of this later work seems to exist anymore, at least not on the web.  One piece that was, however, is presented below.  What’s particularly interesting about this painting is that “Miss Me” has the attention of everyone she passes, including the dog.  The policeman, meanwhile, looks to be directing sidewalk traffic, stopping the boy on the bicycle so that the little girl may pass by.

The boy himself is almost stunned by the sight of the girl, who flaunts her beauty as if she were born to it.  We can easily imagine this child growing up to become one of D’Ancona’s pin-up models.  Even at this tender age she recognizes the power that femininity has over males and attempts to assert her own premature version of it, arguably with some success.  One can argue that D’Ancona is presenting this situation as fairly harmless; this was made in the 1950s after all, well before the pedophile panic set in.  The girl may have a certain power over little boys, but the policeman simply finds her funny.  Or does he?  Is that a smirk of simple amusement on his face or something less innocent?  And what of the dog, who literally bows at her feet?  What exactly is D’Ancona attempting to say with this piece?  I wonder.

It raises some interesting questions, I think.  Such as, is there some subconscious level on which every adult recognizes the largely dormant (but by no means nonexistent) sexuality of children, and if so, do they use certain psychological techniques to deny it to themselves?  I think this is, indeed, the case.  One of those techniques is to laugh it off, to present children’s sexuality as ridiculous and inept, and in the hands of another artist (Norman Rockwell, for example) this same scene would’ve presented the girl as more of a caricature.  I’ve never been much of a Rockwell fan, incidentally.  But because D’Ancona’s style is more realistic than Rockwell’s, it may have backfired.  If he intended this scene as satirical, I think he failed.  But maybe he was simply unaware of what this piece might say to a 21st century audience, who is all too aware of, and acutely sensitive to, the sexual exploitation of children.  This seems more likely.  Today we know about the darker aspects of the beauty pageant world, and how our culture, whether deliberately or not, suggests to girls from an early age that their physical attractiveness is their most important asset.  D’Ancona, more than likely, saw nothing untoward in this scene, and I would be hard pressed to argue he was wrong.  But it does go to show how a changing society can recast old art in a new context.

Edward D'Ancona - Miss Me

Edward D’Ancona – Miss Me

You can see plenty of examples of D’Ancona’s pin-up art here (from which this piece was taken) and here.  The second site also has some additional biographical information on the artist.

 

 

Alexandre Lamotte: Langoureuse

Last April, I bought at Carré d’artistes a second watercolor painting by Alexandre Lamotte. Its French title Langoureuse means “languorous,” and indeed I find it soft and sensuous. It is one of my loveliest, and it hangs above my bed.

Compared to the previous one, it is slightly smaller (25cm×25cm instead of 36cm×36cm); as in the latter, there is a white cardboard inside the frame surrounding the picture, but given the smaller size of the painting, I have cropped the photograph to remove it. Without professional equipment, it is difficult to reproduce exactly the tones and colors of a watercolor having a weak color contrast. Of all my shots and computerized contrast enhancements, I chose the version that seems to me the most emotional. So the background looks a little bit bluish, while in reality it is beige.

Alexandre Lamotte - Langoureuse (2016)

Alexandre Lamotte – Langoureuse (2016)

At Carré d’artistes, paintings rotate between their various galleries. Indeed, the week after I bought Langoureuse, all unsold works by Lamotte had been removed. But the staff told me that he has now other projects beside painting, so instead of being sent to another gallery, his works were returned to him. And his webpage on their site has been reduced to his biography.  They removed the image of one of his paintings that appeared on it; however I had saved it, so I give it here.

Alexandre Lamotte - Carre-d'artistes website (title and year unknown)

Alexandre Lamotte – Carre-d’artistes website (title and year unknown)

Alphonse Isambert

I’m back! At least for awhile. And here’s a taste of what I have in store for you. This piece is by Alphonse Isambert, a student of the master historical painter Paul Delaroche. Isambert, like many artists of the 19th century, was heavily inspired by ancient Greco-Roman art and culture. The style here is Neoclassical, and this piece exemplifies the tradition of the idyll, with two rustic youths, likely young lovers, playing music in the woods. The title translates to Aulos Players in Arcadia.

Alphonse Isambert - Les joueurs d’aulos en Arcadie (1847)

Alphonse Isambert – Les joueurs d’aulos en Arcadie (1847)

 

My Personal Kingdom: James Mollison

Occasionally I get leads from a liberal political and social discourse magazine called In These Times. Because it covers the arts, there are sometimes items relevant to Pigtails. This one I found most intriguing and I finally got to see a copy of Where Children Sleep (2010).

James Mollison was born in Kenya in 1973 but grew up in England. He studied Art and Design at Oxford Brookes University and film and photography at Newport School of Art and Design. He later moved to Italy to work at Benetton’s creative lab. Since August 2011, he has been working as a creative editor on Colors Magazine. His work has been published throughout the world including Colors, The New York Times Magazine, The Guardian, The Paris Review, GQ, New York Magazine and Le Monde. Five of his projects have been published as books.

His fourth book, Where Children Sleep, was triggered by Mollison’s own memories of his childhood bedroom in Oxford. He slept there from age five to nineteen. The bedroom changed over the years, as his parents allowed him to alter it to reflect his evolving tastes, interests and aspirations. If an outsider were to look at the room at any given point in time, it might seem a jumble. But even a seemingly mundane artifact can represent a vivid memory of personal significance. For example, the red carpet with black and white stripes was his own choice—a point of pride at the time and later an embarrassment as he became a style-conscious teenager.

My bedroom was my personal kingdom. When, in 2004, Fabrica (Benetton’s creative research centre) asked me to come up with an idea for engaging with children’s rights, I found myself thinking about my bedroom: how significant it was during my childhood, and how it reflected what I had and who I was. -James Mollison, Introduction, Where Children Sleep, 2010

He decided to tackle this project by focusing of children’s bedrooms and how they might address some of the complex situations and social issues affecting them. He didn’t simply want his work to be about needy children in the so-called developing world, but something more inclusive and, indeed, he does cover some middle class and well-to-do households. The result is a series of diptychs each comprised of one image of the child with a neutral background and the other of his or her sleeping space. Mollison’s photographs span the ages of 4 to 19, corresponding to the years he spent in his childhood bedroom. Like many courageous photo-journalists, he ventured into areas that were subjected to the effects of severe political strife—whether covering refugees fleeing a military regime in Myanmar (Burma) or oppression from the Chinese government in Tibet or trying to make a living in the West Bank under the looming Isreali military occupation. Remarkably, the photographer refrains from making judgments about the political situation or the way his subjects have conducted themselves under their particular circumstances. Mollison’s stated agenda was simply to document a personal journey of curiosity and engage his readers with the images that moved him and, consequently, help us gain an appreciation for how fortunate many of us are.

The cream you see on 4-year-old Lay Lay’s face is a local concoction used to condition and protect the skin. She is a refugee from Myanmar now living in Thailand and since no one claimed her after her mother’s death, she has been living in an orphanage.

James Mollison - Where Children Sleep (2010) (1a)

James Mollison – Where Children Sleep (2010) (1a)

Her sleep area reflects the need for efficient use of space. Only two rooms are used by the 22 children. When the rooms are not used as a classroom and dining room, the furniture is pushed aside so that mats can be placed down for sleep. One drawer is allocated for the personal belongings of each child.

James Mollison - Where Children Sleep (2010) (1b)

James Mollison – Where Children Sleep (2010) (1b)

In stark contrast, 4-year-old Kaya lives in Japan. Although space is at a premium, the family live well and Kaya’s mother makes her daughter’s clothes by hand—up to three a month. Among her accessories, she has a number of wigs and the pigtails seen here were fashioned from hairpieces.

James Mollison - Where Children Sleep (2010) (2a)

James Mollison – Where Children Sleep (2010) (2a)

Her bedroom is something of a little girl’s dream, piled from floor to ceiling with clothes and dolls.

James Mollison - Where Children Sleep (2010) (2b)

James Mollison – Where Children Sleep (2010) (2b)

Seven-year-old Indira’s picture is one that appeared in In These Times. She lives in Nepal and has worked at the local granite quarry since she was three. 150 other children also work there, four or five hours each day.

James Mollison - Where Children Sleep (2010) (3a)

James Mollison – Where Children Sleep (2010) (3a)

The family members all live in one room. There is one bed and one mattress and Indira shares the mattress with her brother and sister.

James Mollison - Where Children Sleep (2010) (3b)

James Mollison – Where Children Sleep (2010) (3b)

Eight-year-old Syra lives in Senegal. It is reported that she always looks sad because a sorceress put a curse on her and her sister. The mother made an effort to cure the girls, but they have been shunned by the local villagers, making her ineligible for marriage. Under these conditions, the girls will not be able to stay with their mother and Syra’s only hope is to be taken in by her grandmother. Otherwise, she will have to live as an outcast.

James Mollison - Where Children Sleep (2010) (4a)

James Mollison – Where Children Sleep (2010) (4a)

James Mollison - Where Children Sleep (2010) (4b)

James Mollison – Where Children Sleep (2010) (4b)

Ten-year-old Douha lives with her parents and 11 siblings in a Palestinian refugee camp in the West Bank. She was born in a refugee camp and has always known violence due to the Isreali military presence. She makes the ten-minute walk to school every day and works hard in the hopes of becoming a pediatrician. Her family has been subjected to additional abuse because Douha’s brother made a suicide-bomb attack against an Israeli target.

James Mollison - Where Children Sleep (2010) (5a)

James Mollison – Where Children Sleep (2010) (5a)

Douha sleeps in the same room with all of her sisters.

James Mollison - Where Children Sleep (2010) (5b)

James Mollison – Where Children Sleep (2010) (5b)

Eleven-year-old Lei lives in the Yunnan province in China with her grandparents, brother and two cousins. Her parents had to find work in the city but they return often to visit their children. Yunnan is the most ethnically diverse region in China and Lei’s grandmother feels it is important to pass on the customs of one’s heritage to the next generation. Lei goes to school and hopes her parents can one day borrow the money to send her to university to become a doctor.

James Mollison - Where Children Sleep (2010) (6a)

James Mollison – Where Children Sleep (2010) (6a)

James Mollison - Where Children Sleep (2010) (6b)

James Mollison – Where Children Sleep (2010) (6b)

Eleven-year-old Thais lives in a two-story flat with her parents and sister in Rio de Janeiro. She lives in a dangerous poverty-stricken area which has improved greatly since it got public attention after the release of the film, City of God in 2002. Thais is a fan of popular culture and wants to become a model.

James Mollison - Where Children Sleep (2010) (7a)

James Mollison – Where Children Sleep (2010) (7a)

She shares a bedroom with her sister.

James Mollison - Where Children Sleep (2010) (7b)

James Mollison – Where Children Sleep (2010) (7b)

Mollison’s latest book was also inspired by his childhood, Playgrounds (2015). What struck him the most was how so many of his memories took place in the venue of the playground and, naturally, he wondered what other children’s experiences were like.

Most of the images from the series are composites of moments that happened during a single break time—a kind of time-lapse photography … Although the schools I photographed were very diverse, I was struck by the similarities between children’s behavior and the games they played. -James Mollison, jamesmollison.com

Creator of the Flower Fairies: Cicely Mary Barker

Cicely Mary Barker (1895–1973) was born on 28 June, 1895 in Croyden, England, to Walter Barker and Mary Eleanor Barker. As a child she suffered from epilepsy so her parents thought it would be safer for her to be home-schooled by a governess. She spent a lot of her time drawing and painting and her father decided to pay for a correspondence course in art which she continued until at least 1919. He also enrolled her in evening classes with the Croyden School of Art in 1908, which she attended until the 1940s and eventually became a teacher there.

Cicely’s parents noticed the quality of her drawings—that they might be good enough for publishing—so they took examples to publishers and printers. The artist’s first published works appeared in 1911 when Raphael Tuck, the printer, bought four drawings and turned them into postcards. In October 1911 she won second prize in a poster competition run by the Croydon Art Society, and shortly after was elected the youngest member of the Society.

After her father’s untimely death in 1912, her older sister, Dorothy, tried to support the family by teaching in private schools then opening a kindergarten at home. The artist also contributed to the finances of her family by selling poetry and illustrations to magazines such as My Magazine, Child’s Own and Raphael Tuck annuals. Additionally, she exhibited and sold work at the Croydon Art Society and at the Royal Institute. She also designed postcards for various printing firms.

Cicely Mary Barker - Because He Came... (date unknown)

Cicely Mary Barker – Because He Came… (date unknown)

After approaching several publishers. Cicely’s first book was accepted by Blackie and published in 1923. Entitled Flower Fairies of the Spring, the book contained watercolour paintings with pen and ink outlines of fairies situated in idyllic settings with each image accompanied by a small song. As fairies were popular at this time the book sold well and also received many positive reviews, consequently over the next thirty-two years another nine flower fairy books were produced.

Cicely Mary Barker - A Flower Fairy Alphabet (1934)

Cicely Mary Barker – A Flower Fairy Alphabet (1934)

Cicely Mary Barker - Flower Fairies of the Wayside (1948)

Cicely Mary Barker – Flower Fairies of the Wayside (1948)

Though she is most often remembered for her flower fairies, they are far from the only books she produced. During the 1920s the artist also created images and wrote some of the songs for several books of songs and verse.

Cicely Mary Barker - Old Rhymes For All Times (1928)

Cicely Mary Barker – Old Rhymes For All Times (1928)

Cicely Mary Barker - The Children’s Book of Hymns (1929)

Cicely Mary Barker – The Children’s Book of Hymns (1929)

She was also an author of three stories with the first, The Lord of the Rushie River, published in 1938. As the book sold well, Blackie requested that she write another and Groundsel and Necklaces was published in 1946 and later renamed Fairy Necklaces when it was re-released in 1991. The third book she wrote was Simon the Swan which was completed in 1953, however Blackie ignored the book and it was not until 1988, fifteen years after the author death, that it got published. The paintings in these three stories differed from the flower fairy images as they were painted with either pastel or oil paint.

Cicely Mary Barker - Groundsel and Necklaces (1946)

Cicely Mary Barker – Groundsel and Necklaces (1946)

Cicely Mary Barker - The Lord of the Rushie River (1938)

Cicely Mary Barker – The Lord of the Rushie River (1938)

The artist was a devout Christian and produced many illustrations for Christian themed books and postcards. She also donated works to churches either for resale or display and I am showing one of her most recognised paintings The Parable of the Great Supper produced for St. George’s Church, Waddon.

Cicely Mary Barker - The Parable of the Great Supper (1934)

Cicely Mary Barker – The Parable of the Great Supper (1934)

Cicely Mary Barker - The Parable of the Great Supper detail (1934)

Cicely Mary Barker – The Parable of the Great Supper detail (1934)

The painting that hangs in the church is a triptych. The larger centre panel is entitled ‘The Great Supper’ and illustrates one of Jesus’ parables where ordinary people are brought in from the highways and byways to share in a great king’s feast, symbolising the inclusive spirit of Christianity. The two smaller side panels show St John the Baptist and Saint George.

The artist’s work slowed down in the 1950s, as she was teaching art at this time, then in 1954 her sister died so she became solely responsible for the care of her mother. The royalties from her books largely supported their life and occasionally she would do portrait commissions for extra money. When her mother died in 1960 Cicely’s health started to fail and she passed away in 1973.

Cicely Mary Barker - Portrait of Ianthe Barker (1951)

Cicely Mary Barker – Portrait of Ianthe Barker (1951)

Cicely Mary Barker - He Leadeth Me (1936)

Cicely Mary Barker – He Leadeth Me (1936)

Cicely Mary Barker - Flower Fairies of the Trees (1940)

Cicely Mary Barker – Flower Fairies of the Trees (1940)

The artist’s style was largely influenced by Kate Greenaway and Randolph Caldecott as their books were popular during her childhood so she would have spent a lot of time reading them. She was also influenced by the Pre-Raphaelites Sir John Everett Millais and Edward Burne-Jones. She admired them as they painted directly from nature and they could depict flora and fauna with near exactitude. The artist achieved her own botanical accuracy by referring to botanical books or having staff from Kew Gardens bring her specimens to paint. All the people featured in her images were real and were sourced from her sister’s kindergarten or were local villagers. She also had a habit of carrying a sketchbook with her and would quickly sketch any interesting child she saw while in public places. The costumes that the children wear were also created by her and after the painting was completed the fabric was recycled into new costumes.

In 1989, Frederick Warne, a division of Penguin Books, acquired the Flower Fairies properties and turned it into the commercial behemoth it is today. Half of the artist’s books were re-released in the 1980s and ’90s and you can buy flower fairy quilts, linen, fabric, stationary, figurines and many other products.

If you would like to see some of her religious works there are some images in this Flickr account and two articles, one at The Croydon Citizen and another at the Inside Croyden Blog.