‘Leonora’ by Elena Poniatowska

For anyone who may be interested and can read Spanish, in 2011 Mexican author Elena Poniatowska published a historical novel, ‘Leonora’, about Surrealist painter Leonora Carrington. The novel won the Premio Biblioteca Breve prize. Poniatowska talks about the book here, and there’s a detailed review in English here that makes me wish very hard for a translation.

I find especially interesting the revelation in the review that “Celtic mythology was Leonora’s only religion,” thanks to “the wisdom of her Irish grandmother and her beloved Irish Nanny (who understood Leonora’s clairvoyant gifts), both of whom instilled in her love for all Celtic and for the Sidhes who would keep her company and find their way into her paintings.” I had wondered if the otherworldly beings in her paintings were in some way seen or believed in by her — they have the look of genuine acquaintance, as do her friend Remedios Varo’s.

I don’t know, of course, the extent of Carrington’s belief or how she interpreted her experiences and her own work. I would certainly like to know. It’s rather frustrating that the English-speaking world has paid her so little attention.


Posted in Art |

Pan wax model

This is the current state of Pan. The wax model’s fragile, so I had to photograph it lying down. There’s a bit more work to do and a couple of joints to reinforce. I’m in Australia for a month now, so will be finishing it when I get back.

Posted in Art |

Annie French

Fill your horror vacui with flowers!

Annie French (1872 – 1965) was a Scottish illustrator. Her bio from lochgallery.com:

The daughter of a metallurgist, Annie French was born in Glasgow and studied at the Glasgow School of Art under Fra Newbery and the Belgian Symbolist, Jean Delville (1896-1902).Influenced by the Pre-Raphaelites, Aubrey Beardsley and Jessie M King, she developed a style combining vivid colours, curvilinearity of form and almost confetti-like textures. While still a student, she contributed an illustration to The Book of the Jubilee of the University of Glasgow (1901), and later illustrated one book, a selection of Heine?s poems for Foulis (1908). However, her watercolours (often on vellum) and drawings are mainly in the form of illustrations, and she designed a number of postcards and greetings cards. In 1906, she began to share a studio with Bessie Innes Young and Jane Younger and, three years later, became Tutor in Ceramic Decoration at Glasgow School of Art as successor to JESSIE M KING. But following her marriage to the artist George Woolliscroft Rhead (1854-1920), she settled in London, and became a frequent exhibitor at the Royal Academy, until the mid nineteen-twenties. She died in Jersey.


‘Picking Flowers’

‘My Love is Like a Red Red Rose’

‘The Queen and the Gypsies’


Picture by Leonora Carrington

The new header pic is from this amazing painting by Leonora Carrington (I don’t know the title, unfortunately). ETA, thanks to Emera — it’s ‘Who art Thou, White Face?’

Posted in Art |

Story order

This might be the best I can do. The stories kind of organised themselves into moods — elegiac, what you might call satanic (oppressive / criminal / mad / featuring the Devil) and domestic. I think those moods are the main ingredients; some of the pieces are mixtures or work as hinges. The last three work as a coda, reflecting other pieces. I almost started with Saving the Gleeful Horse, but that story works best for me with a lead-in. It has the most magical environment — it’s a place that you can’t walk right into from this world, if that makes sense. First you have to go through the land of the dead, then the land of fairytales, then you can get to actual fairyland. Beach Rubble is more elegiac than domestic, but it’s set (sort of) in the real world, and I think it plays nicer with the domestic gang than anywhere else. That section might get shuffled a bit, but I’m pretty happy with the others.

Here’s how the list looks, divided into moods and hinges:

The Art of Dying
The Love of Beauty
Saving the Gleeful Horse
The Memorial Page

Last Drink Bird Head

We the Enclosed
Maldoror Abroad
Two Dreams
The Heart of a Mouse
Between the Covers


Domestic Interior
Beach Rubble
Mother’s Curtains
Vision Splendid

The Crone Meets Her Son (on a battlefield)

She Mirrors
Madame Lenora’s Rings
When the Lamps are Lit



If you love words, go here: http://other-wordly.tumblr.com/

A good one for writers, I believe, is ‘atermoiements’: distractions or hesitations leading to procrastination. It’s French, but English can nick from French whenever it likes, right?



Oh you pretty things

So much for working today. I’ve had a beast of a cold all week and it’s finally caught up with me. I went for a jog this morning as it’s all too easy to get out of shape when I’m sick — only a short slow run, but it still knocked the stuffing out of me. I’ve had a day of reading, sleeping and mucking around. My sinuses are clogged and nothing seems able to unblock them. Drano?

Anyway, I just wanted to post some of the eye candy I’ve been looking at lately.

‘Aurora’ – Remedios Varo

‘Rastignac’ from Ibride Studios ‘Les Dandys’ series of small bookshelves behind panels depicting a number of theriomorphic dandies

Vertical grotesques, the one below by Odoardo Fioletti, after designs by Polifilo Giancarli (or Zancarli). Wouldn’t these be great in a children’s colouring book (if colouring books haven’t gone the way of the dodo)?

‘Queen of the Night’ by Marjorie Miller


Posted in Art |

Mad Ancestor Cover

I’m calling it done. This one’s the Kindle version, so it’s narrow. Copyedit on the weekend… I have to decide whether I want direct thoughts in italics or not, since I’m not consistent in my use of italics from one story to another. But maybe it doesn’t matter if they don’t all match?

The texture’s vintage film from the wonderful Lost and Taken. I tried book cover textures but couldn’t get both a  battered look and clear colour, and the mucky mustard-yellow I kept ending up with wasn’t very nice.