Wednesday, 17 October 2018

HELLO, DISNEY... HELLO, DALI!

I really thought I knew most of what there was to know about the associations between Walt Disney and Salvador Dali – but, somehow, I must have missed the fact that, in 1967, the artist included Walt in a suite of etchings entitled FIVE AMERICANS – the other four being George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Edison and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. 

So, here's Disney as seen by Dali...

Saturday, 29 September 2018

SUMMER PAST


Very belatedly, I'm posting a selection of photographs that pretty much sum up the mood and look of the Royal Academy's Summer Exhibition 2018 as curated by the wonder (and National Treasure) who is Grayson Perry.

By now all these and many, many other pieces have been sold or returned to their creators and the R.A.'s main galleries are now filled with the art of Oceania. But for me the memories of this year's art and art-watchers linger on, beginning with the monumental art of Anish Kapoor...


And here we are inside the Academy with a wall of Graysons...


And beyond...



















Photos: Brian Sibley & David Weeks

Thursday, 23 August 2018

HIGH TIDE

TIME's cover-artist, Tim O'Brien, produced two sequel cover paintings for the magazine: 'Nothing to See Here' and 'Stormy' February 16, 2017 and April 23, 2018)...


Now, the artist returns with a brilliant new and updated variation on his theme for the upcoming September 3, 2018 issue...


Tim O'Brien says: "As the never-ending flood of breaking news washed over the White House, and the firings, the scandals and the general mayhem filled each news cycle, I felt the storm metaphor was as relevant as ever." 


DARK MEMORIES

One day in 1964, my 15-year old self spotted this volume on one of those revolving book-stands outside a newsagent's shop...



I had no idea who Frank Belknap Long was, but the name intrigued me...

'Frank Long' wouldn't have been half as interesting, but Frank Belknap Long –– now that really was a name!

Then there was the title – THE DARK BEASTS – and those beguiling words "spine-chilling tales" and "science-fiction" (like many another 15-year-old, I was an obsessive consumer of both!) and another curious conjunction of words, THE HOUNDS OF TINDALOS...

Tindalos!  

Where was Tindalos? Or, then again, who was Tindalos? I had to know...

Obviously, I was in no small measure enticed by the 'dark beasts' depicted flying, clawing and scrambling across the cover. I didn't know it then, but I had – for the first time – encountered the bizarre, melancholic imagination of that brilliant illustrator (and writer), Edward Gorey.

So began another satisfyingly weird diversion in my youthful literary travels.

I won't bore you with facts about Frank Belknap Long – although his story is an interesting one...

I won't even attempt to suggest you might read any of his extensive output as a writer – although it is pretty much all available...

Nor will I try to seduce you into discovering the bizarre world of the man who drew the cover art for The Dark Beasts or his many books – although they are certainly worth a look...

It is enough if I have mildly, briefly, stirred your curiosity –– as mine was stirred, standing outside a newsagent's shop, looking at one of those revolving book-stands, that day fifty-four years ago...

Wednesday, 22 August 2018

MY FAVOURITE MARTIAN!

Today would have been the 98th birthday of my friend, that brilliant fantasy writer, Ray Bradbury...

Twelve days before his death in 2012, I had my last email from Ray – sent, like all his electronic communications via his daughter, 'Zee'. Ray had been in hospital and David and I had been through the huge upheaval of packing, storing and then (a year later) unstoring and unpacking our accumulated junk.

Ray wrote:

Dear Brian,

Thanks for your wonderful note; it's always great to hear from you.

Zee read your  email to me and I cannot believe what you and David
have to go through.  Of course now that you've had to dig through all
your treasures, perhaps we should get you two here to take care of
this out-of-control homestead of mine!!!!  I love this old house of
mine and even if I didn't, I think I'd be stuck here because there's
just so much stuff.

I'm glad to hear of your new book and I do hope you'll send me a copy
of it when it comes out.

As for the Folio edition of F451, I was quite pleased with the way it
turned out.

I think Zee told you that I had been in the hospital, but this old
Martian is doing fine, so don't you worry.

I send you and David much love,

Ray

Of course, I did worry...

Six years later I still miss my favourite Martian...




Wednesday, 4 July 2018

A CHILD FOR ALL SEASONS

Apologies to those readers who are Alice-phobes, but it is that day of the year again on which (in addition to saluting my American friends on their independence) I invariably draw attention to the fact that 4th of July is the day on which that rare and enchanted realm of Wonderland was discovered.

150 years ago today, on 4 July 1862, the Reverend Charles Lutwidge Dodgson (better known subsequently as Lewis Carroll) with his friend Robinson Duckworth rowed three young sisters up-river from Oxford for a summer picnic. As they rowed, Dodgson extemporised a fantasy about a young lady (called 'Alice', after one of the party) who followed a White Rabbit down a rabbit-hole into a land of wonders.

At the end of the outing, the real Alice (daughter of Henry Liddell, Dean of Christ Church) begged the storyteller to write out for her the story of her namesake's adventures. This Dodgson did in November 1864, entitling the story, Alice's Adventures Under Ground. A year later, expanded and embellished, it was published to the wider world as Alice's Adventures in Wonderland.

The original handwritten manuscript, now in the British Library, contained illustrations by the author...


...but when it came to publication, Dodgson wisely engaged the services of a professional, the great illustrator and Punch cartoonist, Sir John Tenniel.

Despite Tenniel's consummate draughtmanship (and his ability to depict the characters in a way that has ever since been imprinted on our cultural psyche) Dodgson's efforts have their own charm as can be seen from his spirited visualisation of the Gryphon and the Mock Turtle demonstrating the Lobster Quadrille...


...which has a quality of excited abandonment not found in Sir John's immaculately drawn (but somewhat staid) perambulation...


Many subsequent illustrators have depicted this – and all the other curious moments from Alice's bizarre dream – and, of course, it has been featured in theatrical, balletic, operatic, musical and filmic versions of the book.

One of the most imaginative and haunting interpretations (and I make no apology whatsoever, for mentioning it – yet again – on this blog) is Jonathan Miller's iconic 1966 TV film, Alice in Wonderland.


The film featured a star-laden cast – among them Peter Sellers, Peter Cook, Leo McKern and (below) Michael Redgrave playing all the characters (human and talking-animals alike) as dotty Victorian ladies and gents.


One of the most memorable sequences (in a consistently unforgettable film) is Alice's encounter with the Gryphon (played by journalist, pundit and '60s TV celebrity, Malcolm Muggeridge) and the Mock Turtle (a world weary John Gielgud) that ends with the most enchanting Lobster Quadrille to ever be danced...


Happy 156th Birthday, Alice!



Monday, 2 July 2018

FOOTBALLED OUT?

Had enough of the World Cup?

If then why not head on over to Chris Beetles Gallery and savour Remembering Larry at the World Cup, a great selection World Cup cartoons by the late, great Larry (Terence Parkes) all of which are available at a tiny fraction of the price of an air ticket to Russia!



And while you are in the Gallery, or on its website, take a look at Chris' superlative Summer Exhibition 2018, filled with great landscapes and other subjects by these and many other artists...

Edward Lear – Bethany
 

Albert Goodwin – The Wharf at Arundel


Hercules Brabazon Brabaz – Philae, Egypt


Lesley Fotherby – Distant Poppies, Greenway


Keith Grant – Spring


Chris Beetles Gallery
8 & 10 Ryder Street
St James's
London SW1Y 6QB


Monday – Saturday
10:00-17:30


020 7839 7551

Sunday, 24 June 2018

BIRDS OF A FEATHER

A few avian inhabitants of the Zoological Society of London...



 




 

Photo: © David Weeks & Brian Sibley 2018

Saturday, 23 June 2018

HERE THERE BE TYGERS

A few tiger tales captured at the Zoological Society of London...





Paws for a nap...

 





You may have heard of Tiger Balm –– this is Tiger Bum!


"Would you like to sin
on a tiger skin
With Elinor Glyn?
Or would you rather
Err with her
On some other fur?"


Photo: © David Weeks & Brian Sibley 2018