I find these forms irresistible. This one =>
is in the Wallace Collection in London, England.
I'll be visiting London in January, 2020 (if all goes as planned). It is a very, very long time since I've traveled for myself. I am... having some ambivalent feelings, trying to understand what this trip is for. To see beloved friends? Certainly. But... why else?
Among other ventures, I'm hoping to see the William Blake Exhibit at the Tate Gallery. That-that will certainly be a privilege for me. But one gallery visit (or two, if I visit twice) won't take a full two weeks, which is what I'm booked for.
I'm pretty familiar with Renaissance ornaments like the Canning Jewel (actually a 19th century resurgence of the form). Originally these jewels would have been worn on the big, puffy brocade sleeves worn by wealthy cavaliers of the 15th, 16th, 17th centuries. But this hare, which I came across just today, was a new one for me.
Who knows why anything catches one's imagination? But this one did (I also like the second one I found <= once I started searching--this one on the market by auction--not that I'll be putting a bid in, but I love it!)
Will I visit the Wallace, and try to see this funny, lovely thing? Maybe.
Mostly, though, I love the idea of holding these things in my hands, and examining the cleverness with which the artisan made them.
For years, this was my local used bookstore. I missed buying a first edition of The Game of Thrones there. I missed buying a 12 volume set of My Bookhouse, a beloved childhood companion (the edition we'd grown up with was my father's, an early 1930s printing, and it's become too fragile to trust in a young person's hands... and many of the volumes are "read alone," not "read aloud"!).
But I also purchased many excellent books there. A replacement copy of Farley Mowat's Never Cry Wolf. Connie Willis's Bellwether. And many more. Books and Christmas shopping. But evidently, between myself and the rest of my community, not enough.
In all the years... I was too shy to ask "why 'Sixth Chamber'?" and after that it was so familiar that I never thought to look it up. Only as it was closing, did it post my answer, on its Facebook page. The name came from "A Memorable Fancy," written and illustrated by William Blake (1790), a passage/page from his longer work, "The Marriage of Heaven and Hell":
I accept that the world is changing, but this change, this closing of my used bookshop--it's a bad one.
I wish Carlson all the best as she works her way through this painful episode. Hope she makes it to the other side & back to joy.
I got intrigued. The limits of the internet fascinate me. And the more I looked for Kochergin images, the more I realized how familiar I was with his imagery. To some extent, he has the corner on classic Russian fairytale imagery. He owes a debt to Ivan Bilibin (1876-1942)--one of those innocent, tremendous "Golden Age of Illustration" artists who got caught up in weird Central European Nationalism (much to the detriment of their illustrations, I'd put Alphonse Mucha in this category also). But from what I can tell, Kochergin is a creature of a different generation.
I say "from what I can tell," because the internet isn't telling me anything about these next pieces, except that they are all images created by artists named, variously, "N. Kochergin," "Nikolai Kochergin," and "Nikolai Mikhailovich Kochergin," all of whom appear to have lived 1897-1974. I am pretty sure that these are all the same person. But--this is just from the internet, so maybe not. In any case, Kochergin's images:
And then come these (POSTCARDS: 1960s. N. KOCHERGIN). Okay, I can see the Social Realism influence here, but there's a step (in history) that I'm feeling gets glossed over:
What was the progression from the young man who created the top image to the old(er) man who created these last images? I don't know if it would make a book. But it's something I'd like to know something more about.
I ordered it about a week back. My childhood copy had gone missing.
I love Paul Gallico's writing. He's probably known best these days for The Poseidon Adventure (1969), but I hope not. This one, The Man Who Was Magic (1966), remains one of my favorite books--not least for its portrayal of magic. My grandmother gave me my copy, back in the day. I vividly disliked the cover at the time, and consequently it was years before I actually opened it and read it. But from the first chapter, I was in love. I don't think I slept until I'd finished it.
Gallico was a bestselling writer in his own day, and he's one of those writer's whose prolific output hasn't served to cement his literary legacy. There is a tendency to dismiss him as a great "storyteller" rather than a writer, and certainly the archetypes in his narratives... could use some updating.i But when he hits it, he really hits it. There is a description of a little girl's uncomfortable spangled tights in this book--forty years after I first read that passage, it still has a special niche in my brain. There was an observed sympathy for her situation that Gallico understood, and I understood that he understood.
Gallico was a man who could write convincingly about human goodness, and human bravery. That's a rare and under-rated talent in our culture.
Snihurónka is the Ukrainian Snow Maiden, companion to Did Moróz, Grandfather Frost.
Moróz has been identified with Morozko, the pre-Christian pan-Slavic personification of the snow (an animistic spirit, god, or demon, depending on your perspective), but it is widely accepted that his companion, Snihurónka, dates back only to the 19th century, and Alexander Afanasyev's 1869 ""The Poetic Outlook of Slavs about Nature."
I have yet to resolve to my own satisfaction why this should be. Afanasyev is, effectively, the Russian equivalent of the Grimm brothers, and his folktale collection techniques, where "he never tried to give any definitive version of a folktale: so, if he gathered 7 versions of one folk type, he edited them all,"* is considered to have been intellectually sophisticated and ahead of its time. Why Snihurónka should be relegated as Afanasyev's personal invention, rather than one among many folk figures that he collected--I have not seen the scholarship that tells me this is anything other than bias against the story--the Moróz figure, in other cultures, does not have a female companion.
Very little is known definitively about Slavic mythology, but one thing that is known is that the Slavic pantheon was full of unusual gender assignments, gods who are variously represented as female or male in different times and locations, and god-pairs with male and female partners. So--why not Did Moróz and Snihurónka?
I am moving some things around behind the scenes. This site may become unavailable for a few days.
In the meantime. Squirrels.
click above to bring up Katya's contact information.
Sites I recommend
These ones are maintained by long-time personal friends.
is a consummate artist. There are so many images to enjoy on this site. His carved wooden long-leaf red pine Rhinoceros (which he made for me when I was ~11 years old) is a personal favorite.
Is the U.K. based caving gear store run by serious hard-ass Tony Seddon. This link goes to the 'caves' section of the store's site--complete with alarming portrait photo of Tony ("After 7 days underground and 700m prussiking").
The Oxford University
Maintained by Steve Roberts, a guy who is extraordinary in so many ways, I'll just limit myself here to saying "Steve is a man who knows about motors."
John Bedell is an archaeologist, historian, and father of five living in Maryland. His blog is a fascinating grab-bag of historical, artistic, and political materials. This entry about work and leisure gives a good example of his voice.
This is Liz Manicatide (now Liz LaManche), principal at Emphasis Creative's personal art & graphics site. I love Liz's work, panache, and aerial artistry, which leads me to-
Flying Squirrel Consortium
Phil Servita's site, and the place to go for custom fabricated circus equipment (either freestanding or fixed point), and aerial classes, if you happen to live in the area.
Paul's site is... unique, authentic, & expressive, and pretty much exactly what I think of when I think of a website as an artform.
Metro Bikes Trails Guide
(St. Paul, MN)
"Reviews and Reports on over 70 bicycle paths in the Minneapolis/Saint Paul area!"
Maintained by the tireless Seamus Flynn, and a great little site for those local to the Twin Cities area.
I enjoy the Ukrainian/Russian artisanship on this website.
Sites I enjoy
I don't know these people, but I appreciate their work.
What's That Bug?
The title says it all. A useful site for both the non-bug-phobic & the consummate bug-phobe.
Margaret & Helen
Best Friends for Sixty Years and Counting…
I'm not a grandmother (or raging!), but I appreciate this site. Especially the fact-checking part.