Maiden Voyages: December 2016

I had not intended to do a Maiden Voyages this month as I had no new news leads to share.  However, a reader just informed me about the tragic death of David Hamilton. Readers are reminded that even though I have not been active lately, I have not abandoned this site and continued leads are encouraged so that other readers may be kept up-to-date.

David Hamilton Dies: The controversial photographer who inspired so many collectors and other artists died on November 25th.  So far, the police believe it was a suicide—presumably out of despondency from the accusations of former models claiming rape by the man in their youth.  The first accusation came from Flavie Flament in a novelistic memoir entitled La Consolation where she describes the incident.  Flament would not confirm Hamilton’s identity publicly but featured one of his photos on the book cover. Given the timing of the death and the reputation of the photographer, the police needs to exercise caution about making hasty conclusions.  With what little information has been shared publicly, it seems equally likely to be an act of vigilantism.

I am not in a position to weigh in on the veracity of the rape accusations or Hamilton’s intent to sue for slander.  But such a turn of events once again brings us to the question of the value of an artist’s work.  Do the circumstances of a work’s creation have to be taken into account when evaluating it?  Whatever the facts may be, do they diminish or enhance its visceral impact?  Because of the taint of association, will the future yield no new artists who will admit to admiring his work?

Maiden Voyages: October-November 2016

Welcome readers to a belated Maiden Voyages.  Within two weeks of my fruitful research trip, Mother Nature unleashed her chaos and I had a freak accident at home which sent me to the hospital.  As traumas go, it was a minor one but recovery is gradual.  My injuries have made it difficult to sit for a long time which is why there have been no posts from me in a while.  To make matters worse, my private business has been busier than ever.  Many days I have intended to work on a post or reply to emails to find myself too exhausted mentally and physically.  This has taken an emotional toll as I deal with bureaucracy of the broken American medical system.  I thank my friends and readers for their well wishes and promise to continue as I am able.  My research trip has been an inspiration and I have many interesting things to share.  However, producing a post to my standards does take time and cannot be done in one sitting.  I still believe Pigtails in Paint has an important function and should continue to do so.  I also encourage those interested in composing posts for this site to please do so.

Mission Statement: One of the ideas that came from my trip was the urgent need for a mission statement.  It goes without saying that Pigtails covers a number of controversial subjects associated with little girls.  However, like the proverbial elephant in the living room, it is an important subject that the conventions of society would have us ignore, trivialize or offer patent simplistic answers to.  Once posted, the ‘Mission Statement’ will reflect what I have learned to date about the valuable function this site serves, whether people want to acknowledge it or not.

Lessons from Behind the Iron Curtain: A Jock Sturges show titled ‘Absence of Shame’ was recently closed in Moscow after protests and charges that the work was child pornography. The government investigated and concurred with the complainants and ordered it shut down.  Given the U.S. President-Elect’s admiration for Russian methods for controlling its people, one has to wonder how much the United States will be following suit in the years to come.  Our readers should be reminded that Pigtails has been blocked in that country since 2014 and can only be accessed through proxy servers.

A Fresh New Site: I was informed of an interesting new site covering young girl portraiture.  The blogger states that: “The intention is to help redress, in admittedly a very limited way, the imbalance that exists with regard to images of girls online.”  It seems that image sites such as Tumblr delete any blogs that seem to be concentrating on young girls though specific policies regarding young girls are not clearly spelled out in the respective ToS (Terms of Service). Girls’ Portraiture intends to offer proper context to images rather than the popular convention of presenting a mash of random and unidentified images.

New Sia Video: Here is another one featuring Maddie Ziegler (plus a bunch of other kids).  There are also a couple other older videos of hers that may have been overlooked. One called Big Girls Cry has Maddie in it and another called Alive has a cute little Asian girl doing martial arts. It seems that the theme of children and little girls is a long-standing one for Sia.  In Alive, the little girl does a series of forms (kata in Japanese) which happen to be very advanced—done only by brown and black belts, an impressive accomplishment for a girl that age.

Vintage Postcards: An excellent collection of vintage postcards featuring girls and children has been brought to my attention.  Take a look here.

Site Design: Thanks to the efforts of supporters, there will be a noticeable change in the appearance of this blog.  It was my intent to have these changes take effect this month when our domain name was renewed.  However, unavoidable delays on all fronts means that these changes are likely to be implemented in the new year.  There will be a new banner designed by one of our artists and the layout style and site functions will be updated to make the site more professional.

The Kiss of Death: It has been brought to my attention that one of the films reviewed on this site, The Spy Who Caught a Cold, was deleted from YouTube.  It has become clear to me that because of the large readership of Pigtails, we have become a source of intelligence for the “decency police”.  Therefore, readers should know that any relevant video materials appearing on YouTube are copied in the course of doing the relevant posts.  If any reader would like an MP4 copy of such a film that can be viewed on a computer, it can be made available for download (assuming the video is unavailable elsewhere).

Maiden Voyages: September 2016

Hiatus and Research Trip: Usually, I get a lot more done in the summer on Pigtails because my work schedule slows down.  However, this year I had the opportunity to make a special trip to visit one of my special collectors.  Sometimes you just have to meet someone in person and, if all goes well, this will be a windfall for the readers of Pigtails. Now all I have to do is produce it!  For a while, I will be focusing on films and the new material I just received interspersed with items I had already been working on.

I would like to thank Pip, Christian and Arizona for keeping the home fires burning by contributing posts during this past month.

Maiden Voyages: August 2016

Light Month: Probably due to the vacation season, I have not received a lot of leads worth reporting this month.  I would like to advise readers that we will be changing the appearance of the site.  When the current theme was selected, I had assumed that the fonts could be easily changed.  Once we committed to it, it became risky to change it without losing information (and our hard work).  I have been assured by our new site technician that we can have a more up-to-date template, that it will have a more suitable appearance and will have more features consistent with the design of professional-looking blogs today.

Enjoy the rest of your summer, -Ron

Cool Fascination: The Spy Who Caught a Cold

The charming thing about short films is that they allow the filmmaker to put forth an idea that would not yield enough plot for a feature. The title of this short piece is a take-off on the film, The Spy Who Came in from the Cold (1965). However, beyond the wordplay, there is no similarity between the films. The Spy Who Caught a Cold (1995) is a light-hearted—one might say almost frivolous—British piece. It was written by Lucy Ellmann and directed by Philippa Lowthorpe and was produced by Channel 4 (not to be confused with BBC4, see comment below). The premise is that a single mother (Lesley Nightingale) has decided to spend a few days at a nudist beach along with her daughter, Clozzy (Isabella Nightingale Marsh). Being a 10-year-old girl, Clozzy pretends to be embarrassed by her mother’s interest in this excursion. But her actions throughout speak of a secret fascination. Instead of participating with the others, she prefers to study the goings on with amusement.

Philippa Lowthorpe and Lucy Ellmann - The Spy Who Caught a Cold (1995) (1)

Philippa Lowthorpe and Lucy Ellmann – The Spy Who Caught a Cold (1995) (1)

Early in the film, Clozzy gets into the spirit of things and has a moment of joyful abandon, doing cartwheels along the water’s edge.

Philippa Lowthorpe and Lucy Ellmann - The Spy Who Caught a Cold (1995) (2)

Philippa Lowthorpe and Lucy Ellmann – The Spy Who Caught a Cold (1995) (2)

Her mood is quickly deflated when she observes her mother being friendly with a man.

Philippa Lowthorpe and Lucy Ellmann - The Spy Who Caught a Cold (1995) (3)

Philippa Lowthorpe and Lucy Ellmann – The Spy Who Caught a Cold (1995) (3)

This is the only time Clozzy is seen naked in the film. She and her mother dine out to find the man, a fishmonger, entertaining everyone with his accordion. Mother decides to get his attention and does a kind of seductive dance, again to the dismay of Clozzy. The couple leave together. Cozzy had teased her mother about spending time with a fishmonger—that his clothes probably reek of fish. But when no one is looking, she stops to smell the coat he was wearing

Philippa Lowthorpe and Lucy Ellmann - The Spy Who Caught a Cold (1995) (4)

Philippa Lowthorpe and Lucy Ellmann – The Spy Who Caught a Cold (1995) (4)

At this point, the girl wears an interesting shirt spangled with stars which serves as a reminder of the symbolic connection between women and nature. The next day Clozzy has a cold, but not being life-threatening, mum decides to leave her to recuperate and rejoins the others in their activities.

Philippa Lowthorpe and Lucy Ellmann - The Spy Who Caught a Cold (1995) (5)

Philippa Lowthorpe and Lucy Ellmann – The Spy Who Caught a Cold (1995) (5)

Clozzy sneaks off to continue her spying, sneezing along the way.

Philippa Lowthorpe and Lucy Ellmann - The Spy Who Caught a Cold (1995) (6)

Philippa Lowthorpe and Lucy Ellmann – The Spy Who Caught a Cold (1995) (6)

When she returns, she finds her mother and the fishmonger making love. She watches quietly.

Philippa Lowthorpe and Lucy Ellmann - The Spy Who Caught a Cold (1995) (7)

Philippa Lowthorpe and Lucy Ellmann – The Spy Who Caught a Cold (1995) (7)

After mum leaves, Clozzy investigates further. She enters the tent where the man is sleeping and waves her hand over his body as though she were stroking him. Then as she leans over to kiss him, mum walks in.

Philippa Lowthorpe and Lucy Ellmann - The Spy Who Caught a Cold (1995) (8)

Philippa Lowthorpe and Lucy Ellmann – The Spy Who Caught a Cold (1995) (8)

Philippa Lowthorpe and Lucy Ellmann - The Spy Who Caught a Cold (1995) (9)

Philippa Lowthorpe and Lucy Ellmann – The Spy Who Caught a Cold (1995) (9)

Philippa Lowthorpe and Lucy Ellmann - The Spy Who Caught a Cold (1995) (10)

Philippa Lowthorpe and Lucy Ellmann – The Spy Who Caught a Cold (1995) (10)

After the trip and in a predictably duplicitous manner, Clozzy is heard telling her friends what a silly waste of time it had all been.

This film is currently viewable on YouTube. [I have been informed from a reader that the YouTube link is no longer active.  I could not find another copy online.  Essentially the full story is given here, but for those who wish to see the film, please contact me personally and you will be given a link to download it instead.  Thank you, -Ron]

Random Image: John Philip Wagner

A reader just shared this sensuous image of fairies.  For some reason there is a transposed version and I am told this one has the correct orientation.

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.

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)

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.

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

Maiden Voyages: July 2016

Original Art for the Masthead: A couple of artists have approached me about the design of Pigtails in Paint’s masthead. So far, it has been composed by Pip from existing images and he never got the inspiration to create original art for it. Therefore, we are offering the opportunity for artists to have their original art appear as Pigtails’ banner for one year. Approved new images will appear beginning in mid-November. There are a few guidelines to make the design consistent with Pigtails’ image. 1) Naturally, it should feature a little girl or girls (optimum age around 8, but we are certainly flexible on this). 2) The girl should have pigtails of some kind. 3) And Pip had the idea that the girl should be holding a brush (or other artistic instrument) and appear to be finishing up the lettering in the title. 4) The color scheme should be appropriate—”warmer” tones. Examples of past mastheads can be seen here to give you an idea of past styles.  You can include the motto or let us add that in.  We do not require the original artwork so long as a scan of sufficient quality can be provided.  We look forward to your submissions and Ron will work with you every step of the way.

Bodies, Dressed and Undressed: Coincidences are remarkable and just as I finally got access to some of Flor Garduño’s published books, Pip and Christian inform me that there are better versions of the many images used in the two posts on this site (here and here). There is a wonderful introduction by Verónica Volkow in the book Inner Light (2002) which eloquently expresses the artist’s attitude about the relevance of nudes and flowers and their connection.  A slightly abridged transcription has been posted here.

Why Do All the Good Guys Die So Young?  We must sadly report that Emmett Munger Mann, son of acclaimed photographer Sally Mann died on June 5th in his home.  No information about the cause of death has been released.  It is always tragic when parents outlive their children and doubly so in this case, because Emmett was so interested in the cause of justice.

Screenshot of Sally with Emmett during the filming of The Genius of Photography (2007)

Screenshot of Sally with Emmett during the filming of The Genius of Photography (2007)

Suspense-Horror with a Twist: A colleague brought my attention to a short film called Luna (2013).  For those interested in this genre, it is worth a look.