Vanessa or Don...

 Vanessa Bell Oranges and Lemons (1914)

We were playing that game over Christmas where people match you with a famous historical figure. Jack picked English artist Vanessa Bell (1879-1961) for me, which I was pretty pleased about. I do love a nice Bloomsbury Still Life, like the ones above and below.

Vanessa Bell, Still Life with Milk Jug and Eggs, Asheham (1917)

The two images come from The Bloomsbury Cookbook (2014), which was a birthday present last year. The book is full of reproductions of paintings and drawings by members of the Bloomsbury set, along with recipes (including a menu plan for Mrs Dalloway's famous dinner party), oodles of food-related anecdotes, and information about the daily lives of the Bloomsbury-ites. Here's a charming hand-painted menu attributed to either Vanessa Bell or Duncan Grant to celebrate the opening event of the Omega Workshops in 1913.

The book is a lovely artefact and all royalties from sales go to the Charleston Trust to pay for upkeep on Duncan Grant and Vanessa Bell's former home. The recipes themselves are a little on the ho-hum side, but that's not surprising really, given that English cooking is not known for being particularly flavoursome or adventurous (apologies to any English readers!). 

 Mark Gertler, Still Life with Apples and a Mixing Bowl (1913)

While the match with Vanessa Bell is very flattering, I think that if I was an artist, I would probably be an abstract painter. Shape, texture, and colour combinations are more my style than representations from life. Besides which, I can't draw!

Last weekend I stayed with my sister Therese (pictured above) in her cottage in Paekakariki. We gave the lounge a fresh coat of paint and had a lovely time rearranging the art and objects. I especially admire the abstract work on the wall behind her. It's a wooden relief by NZ artist Don Peebles (1922-2010), which he produced in the late 1960s after seeing the work of English artist Victor Pasmore (1908-98) when he visited London. There's something really serene about the two little raised wooden bars on the three unevenly proportioned planes of wood, adorned with nothing but a few spare lines here and there.

For some reason that Don Peebles Relief stays in my mind every time I see it, and it made me want to have a little play around with shapes and planes when I arrived home. So I dug into my wallpaper stash and started putting together some colour and texture combinations, which I glued onto sheets of card and flattened overnight.

Then I made a few little configurations by cutting out shapes and gluing them together, with strips of foam board to raise each layer, and glued a foam board triangle onto the back so that they can stand unsupported.

I like the idea that they could stand alone or be arranged in duos or groups.

This is what they look like from behind. I quite like the white on white of the back-view, so I might just try all-white reliefs next...


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