29 Mar 2013

The secret life

This mannequin has been living a double life for possibly 90 CORRECTION - 60 years. It's life has probably begun in Milan, the capital of fashion, the hub for garment fabrication and style.
It is the fifth of my mannequins of various age, style and provenance.
I am almost embarrassed that I almost thought that this one wasn't very attractive, I kept it stashed at the studio. I've given its rustic wooden tripod base to another, slender, more feminine, styrofoam body of a mannequin.

Well. yesterday I decided to expose this body, removed wooden caps and wooden base.
I cut off a layer of batting, clad with easily tearing, faded black fabric.
The body that emerged few minutes later was beautiful and fascinating. 

I admire the eco-friendly material and in the text written all over the bodice trying to locate something that would help to date this find. All bits and pieces of papier mâché  are written in Italian. I found the place name and most recent date:  1924, Milan.
Il manichino è un oggetto che riproduce un essere umano...

A colleague with younger eyes has helped to find a younger date - it was actually a heading.
It said 12 - 15 December 1952. 
So the paper used for my mannequin bears the news of 60 years ago. and likely was made in 1953. That year would be significantly more eventful:
-> Stalin died... yet
-> Poland suffers a peak of Stalinist terror
-> Eisenhowever replaced Thrumann,
-> US declares it has a hydrogen bomb
-> Queen Elizabeth II is coronated
-> Russia announces it has a hydrogen bomb,
-> Kennedy marries Bouvier and  
-> Hillary and Norgay reach Mt. Everest 


28 Mar 2013

Happy Easter

The Northern hemisphere "enjoys" cool and not terribly spring-like weather.
Easter is a time for jolly image, so I would like to share this blogging find:

Scandinavian style screen printed Flowery Peacock by Jane Foster
Cool, Scandinavian-inspired Flowery Peacock
print by Jane Foster, available on Etsy
Found through intricate chain of links through invaluable Print & Pattern.

27 Mar 2013

First printed Encyclopedia

The Chronicle often depicts
phenomena, such as these

Moon Dogs and Sun Dogs.
Being a print-maker I am terribly partial to all things related to paper, inks, imprint, markings of all sorts. I am also a dedicated reader and although I have been totally "digital" for about two decades, much of my reading is still an old fashion book - the one you had hold in your hand, weight it, smell it, feel the texture of the paper and marvel on its binding or its other essential features, absent in e-books.
Click to Enlarge
Omens:Omen of locust plague that was to accompany
the arrival of with Black Death of 134.

24 Mar 2013

Painted Furniture, Painted Rooms

During my more recent trips around the "blogs of the word" I have found this painted armoire preserved at the Folk Art Museum in Innsbruck. It's been posted by Elsbeth  She is a Dutch quilt-maker and a folk art aficionado. One admits quilting and painted furniture go together so beautifully well...
Interestingly enough, earlier today I was speaking with a colleague of mine who is leaving for the Maritimes (Canadian East Cost..) and regional art stuff like this. I was telling him about the, Mr. and Mrs. William Croscup's Painted Room, c. 1846-1848
The naive painting style that adorned houses of the Atlantic coast in Both Canada and US. The Croscup's walls miraculously resisted the pressures of changing decor trends and battled wear and tear.

Mr. and Mrs. William Croscup's Painted Room
Restored parlour at the National Gallery of Canada

22 Mar 2013

Script and décor

I am so glad that for a while now there is such an intense interest in feel and texture of old textiles or objects, often filigree in detail. I had watched young women wearing delicate blouses looking nearly Victorian, if not Marie-Antoine'sque...


Two of my favourite blogs bring images that create a delightful juxtaposition, spanning ca 200 yrs:
* see more on script below...

18th century script
from Trish @ trouvais.com
I love her blog very much, the colour and her choices for inspiration; we see to have shared the same read of décor mags in the past and demonstrably - the passion persists...
Op-art like 
textile design from
Habitat collection
(UK online store)


And for those who still favour texture over line:
This trendy and well designed piece is from Norway.     
Designed and produced by the Rebel Wallcoverings.
Posted by the super Norwegian blogger, Franciska

I am rather curious how the Rebel Wallcoverings will do marketing because their designs are great and the materials and technology I am very familiar with.

For a number of years I was directly involved in designing and producing wall-coverings.
Effectively engineered wall-covering materials from KoroGraphics and DreamScape made a lot of progress in this graphic niche.
However, all my orders were institutional, some in Canada, others in the U.S. The installation of those materials was easy, water-based roll-on adhesive works like a charm. The materials are very dimensionally stable so is was no worry about shrinkage etc.
The market that the Norwegian colleagues may a lot more receptive - judging by the sophistication and diversification of interior décor shown on European blogs and magazines they do have a good chance to succeed.
Their price tag is 295.00 Nor. Kroner,  that's about Can$ 52.00 per square Meter, which I would say is excellent and very comparable with what my pricing was.
Definitely, I love this stuff!

More on Script

I must return to the 18th century script, Trish from Trouvais.com has posted a YT vid on an artist who excelled in being inspired and transmitting the beauty and the visual intricacy of the old French calligraphic script into modern art, décor and textile design - Carolyn Quartermaine:
It MUST be seen.

20 Mar 2013

The most expensive analogue photo

My colleague Alexei followed up my post on the most expensive photograph sold to-day, the one by Gursky. He had sent the pic of another record - the most expensive analogue photograph.

The Pond-Moonlight, 1904 by Edward Steichen was the most expensive photograph prior to the one you documented, sold by Sotheby's NY for $2, 928,000. It is a beautiful print with colour. You probably know as you made the distinction in your blog about it being the most expensive digital print. But just thought you may find it interesting, he wrote.


First day of Spring

It's FIRST DAY OF SPRING, we need something hopeful in spite of 20cm of snow.

I think at the old age I could became interested in fashion, after all.
I followed one blogger, read her posts an liked it. It pointed to this designer:
I quickly dashed onto Vienne Westwood blog  and I am telling you I am completely sold a fashionista.  I love this designer, she has guts and imagination. She is true artist.
Take this - this completely artful!:

I Am Expensiv

19 Mar 2013

Last day of Winter

Ufff, the day is ending and I hope to be heading for the sack soon...
It's late and the sound of snow plows beeping on the street creating a havoc...
Today I was non-stop in-and-out of the studio, personal life clashing with work, luckily the clients were very nice people, happy with the work, and appointments were not too painful...

Later I met an old "army buddy" of ours - a woman we had worked with years ago on several projects for one of the NGOs, we were designing their publications, the work was interesting but the NGO is no more. We met in the Dairy/Condiments isle, just by the pickle section. 

For those who need to know:
Gewürzgurke, Renee Comet (photographer), Wikipedia  ----->

18 Mar 2013

Cool murals elsewhere

Such impressive ceiling...
I have recently delivered some sturm-and-drang on the theme of publicly visible mural art in Ottawa, which in my opinion is just terribly, hmmm, I shouldn't say.

Accidentally, shopping lately in a local art store I took a minute and noticed a nice book on murals.
Although it is not exactly my speciality, I did look at some of the samples in the book.
I loved them - big, bold, vigorous.

I couldn't resist to share some:

Very nice Trompe-l'œil - Germany, most impressive ocean liner ever seen on that street...

Oh, by the way, at the first chance I will try to give you the title of this book, in case you are a muralist and would like to involve in a more in-depth study...

possibly Denmark?

Closer to home - Toronto

somewhere in the US

This is super, imaginary monsters - Brazil

Nicaragua - isn't it beautifully painted?

Total transformation, from shabby to fascinating....

17 Mar 2013

Antonioni - Visione del silencio...

Few years ago we watched the last movie made by Michelangelo Antonioni
Eros, a short film within "The Dangerous Thread of Things".
I did not like this film terribly a lot, somehow I wasn't grasping the Thread...
The very last sequence of the film, Antonioni walking with no music background among Michelangelo's sculptures, only B&W footage and the sound of his footsteps, that was a very powerful ending of a distinguished career as an artist.

But there was definitely a divine element in this - the three parts were threaded by drawings and by this awesome voice singing Visione del silencio....
This voice was mesmerising, almost androgynous, Caetano Veloso, divine...
This is my important marker, so I don't forget.

13 Mar 2013

Fine Art Print Editions

Digital printing

The digital inkjet/piezo techniques have been around for a while and their nature is more or less known. One must notice though, that American gallery practice and art buyer perception has from the very beginning been rather positive and trusting.

You may read more to find more about important topics such as:
Print Edition, Signing, Estimating and Pricing and to see a vid
about The MOST EXPENSIVE PHOTOGRAPH sold to-day.

12 Mar 2013

Good Advertising

A spoof * ad, found in Adbusters:

"Have no fear - he’s a vegetarian." 1936,
John Heartfield.

* What is Spoof Ad?
Read here: http://blocs.xtec.cat/advertastic/spoof-ads/

10 Mar 2013

Dame Norka & Miss Maja

Dedicated to: Lulu, Aiki (Bubba), Sarenka and now Norka and Maja.
Thanks for sharing their wonderful lives with us,
giving so much love and PRICELESS life lessons....

In my lifetime, the democratic idea  that we are inventing ourselves is almost convincing. It is only when we get scared, pissed or really unsatisfied that we "reconnect" and seek causes, counting on the prospects of influencing the effects.

Our freedoms and independence, our thinking that we really have a say on the outcomes of our lives is a rather naïve notion. Well, we may have a say, but that would could not make us neither healthy or wealthy.

Consequently, we may indemnify ourselves from the guilt if we did not make it to the Top Ten. Plus - we can always make up some good list that will place us in the Top 10.

Dame Norka
 Those glam portraits of
the girls were taken yesterday
by my distinguished
colleague, Alex.
Miss Maia
Look: all four quarters of her face are different...
My younger cat, Maia started going to heat, she is still rather small but soon we will pay a visit to the vet... In the meantime we observe the whole array of sexual behaviors.

This female is a house cat, she has never seen a "boy" and she couldn't take it from the "Last Tango in Paris". Yet she is displaying such an intricate and consistent sequence of acts:
showing her bum, tilting the tail to make sure there's not doubt which body part is in focus. She really calls for attention and even tries to get under Norka who is already fixed and has no idea what the little one is all about...

It is impressive how this pattern is designed and played with immense detail and precision.

Perhaps this is why no-one discusses such theoretical subjects such as Free Will etc. Between the impact of advertising and our genetically predisposed patterning, how do we get to be free...

Wondering why would anyone blame anyone for smoking, incest, tax evasion, theft, you name it.
I don't know. 

9 Mar 2013

The Life of a Photo Icon

Pennsylvania Train Station, NY

Penn Station vs Eiffel Tower?

Seeing this amazing iconic image of our urban/industrial civilization I decided to look more for its history.  The design and architecture seems as fascinating as that of the Eiffel Tower.
The French obviously know how to preserve their heritage, even at the cost of mythologization.

7 Mar 2013

The Opera or the Dishwasher

There is a great number of the opera houses in England.
But this is so amazing, it is a private gig, the Glyndebourn.
It belongs to the rich family of the Christi's, if I am not mistaken. Probably a Trust.
The 2012 Festival season delivered three productions!

Regrettably, in Ottawa we do not have the Opera House.
I was about to deliver another drang-und-sturm to "empower" the wealthy sector of our community on that subject, but not. Because perhaps it is not neccessary.
Well, we do have the National Art Centre but I've heard the main roles are usually played by the Unions. I don't know.

File:Dishwasher open for loading.jpg
 A dishwasher

Oh, I just heard on the CBC we have deployed into space the first military satellite, apparently it's size is that of a dishwasher. I wonder if it plays music nearly as well as the British at Glyndebourn.
I wonder why us - we must have watched too much time in Space with William Shatner...

BUT, on the other hand, I wasn't too serious about the Opera yet.
We definitely first need the Children's Theatre!

5 Mar 2013

Instrumentality & Reality

This is the title of a course I had once taken by Geoffrey James, intellectual and excellent photographer.
Disclaimer: Instrumentality & Reality was the course title in theory of photography and my choice of images below has nothing to do with the distinguished professor.

I love the messages below for their 
vigour, sincerity
& absolute instrumentality

But above all:
countless graphic designers
and illustrators
helped to make us smoke.
But at least it was done with style
and conviction.
Cheers to you all!


  "Advertising is the greatest art form of the twentieth century." – Marshall McLuhan

Someone has just sent me this to add to may collection - don't you love how he inhales!
Actually, this ad doesn't sell cigs, the smoking is just an AID to sell something else... 

By the way, I am not a smoker but one cannot resist the charms of good advertising.
After all, it's just pictures...
And now, c'mmon, look at more adds

4 Mar 2013

Lenkiewicz 1941-2002

I have never heard of this British artist (of Polish origin).
Somebody has just emailed me this short vid:

The Painter and Danielle in Candlelight (Lot 532)
Robert O Lenkiewicz (1941-2002)
The Painter and Danielle in Candlelight
oil on canvas
I've researched a bit more and really he was a fascinating, very prolific artist, avid antiquarian books collector. His amazing library was definitely worth seeing. Valued at £1million.
Now, it took apparently 12 yrs since he's died at 71 from heart attack. This is how long it too to settle his estate. So the amazing library which has dispersed by now...





Over forty years Lenkiewicz built up a library of some 25,000 volumes[7] devoted to art, the occult sciences, demonolatry, magic, philosophy, especially metaphysics, alchemy, death, psychology and sexuality, preoccupations which surface in some of his paintings. His collection of books on magic and witchcraft was one of the finest in private hands and was largely sold at Sotheby's in 2003, and a substantial part of the remainder of his library was sold at auction in May 2007 by Lyon & Turnbull.

More on Bibliotheca Lenkiewicziana

Bowl gardening

It is winter and sometime there is a bit of claustrophobic feeling caused by ...... blahs...
But there is spring on my coffee table.

I thought I garden small.
But this?
I am in disbelief, is just a bowl gardening!
It is so beautiful... Sigh...

3 Mar 2013

Geoffrey James

January 19, 2013 - February 16, 2013


at Equinox Gallery, Vancouver 

Examining the role of the artist as intermediary between themselves and the natural world.

Works by Geoffrey James, Karl Blossfeldt, Rodney Graham, Vija Celmins, Michael Wesik, Gathie Falk, Jennifer Rose Sciarrino, Hyung-Min Yoon, Robert Adams, Darren Waterston, Robert Longo, Evan Lee, Randy Grskovic and others. 

Geoffrey James is an amazing artist and an intellectual.

I thought I will expand this blurb a bit before posting, but in light of this event (below) I better leave it for now and edit later.
Attention all Photography sophisticates, this looks like it shouldn't be missed!

2 Mar 2013

Hoping to be stranded for a week in this man's house

Many have seen his work, the quirky-stylish, quasi-Victorian images.
It's become part of the trend for quite a few years now.

Recognize this? -->

Yes, the plates bear designs by Piero Fornasetti


"Italian designer Piero Fornasetti was a true master.  He took everyday objects like dinner plates and lamps and imbued them with style and wit.  My favorite series of his is his variation on a woman's face.  His nod to surrealism and use of bold graphics has yielded some of the most iconic images ever created."
The pics come from http://www.phantasmaphile.com/2007/03/piero_fornasett.html

By all means, see this:  Fornasetti's House
You MUST see the site of this artist, you WILL like it!
See the home of the Master's son Barnaba Fornasetti - also a designer and graphic artist, and a true treasurer of his father's legacy.
His home and home-studio is absolutely amazing...

Piero Fornasetti in 1983

As he once said, these are
 “fashion items
that will never
go out of fashion”

If you are not exhausted yet, there is more about who's behind those EYES:

1 Mar 2013

The Shabby chic essentials

Fabric pattern that fits all my most fun graphic/vintage interior decorating blogs.
The filigree pattern befitting the weather patterns of today... 

I could easily imagine an wonderful window film application inspired by this. Or a vinyl cutout vinyl application. I don't want to think of weeding this.....
Such inspirations have produced some nice effects in my practice, see here - my 8 Jan 2012 post.

Lion anyone? (something to beat the winter grays....)
Happy patterns and many more from one of my fav blog's: printpattern.blogspot.ca

Victoria Johnson
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