Delyth & Angharad (DnA)

Album cover is a painting of the Delyth and Angharad in subdued tones.

We were lucky to see this mother and daughter duo play at a local folk festival recently. Delyth & Angharad write and play absolutely beautiful Welsh folk music.  There’s an excellent review of their latest album Llinyn Arian (Silver thread) here.

Here they are playing Viva Cariad and an old favourite from my West Wales childhood Sosban Fach

The artwork by Carys Evans is gorgeous too. Love the Gwen John influence.


5 Things

I liked Suzanne Heintz’s artistic response to the question Why aren’t you married yet? Fourteen years worth of pictures of herself posing with a mannequin family certainly draws attention to the mythology of white, middle-class family “happiness”. Even though Suzanne is posing with mannequins, these images and the meanings they are supposed to convey (and impose) are instantly recognisable. Perhaps she’s also suggesting that people don’t care who the members of her family are, or what her relationship with them might be, as long as “family” is performed in the correct way. There is even the suggestion that this mythology reduces people to the status of mannequins. Roland Barthes would be proud.

Ludovic Florent’s series of photographs Poussiere d’etoiles (stardust) inspired me after a difficult day. These images that capture dancers interacting with a cloud of flour are a gorgeous tribute to the art of dance and the power of the human body.

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Little link round-up

Ta-Nehisi Coates from the Atlantic writes about Edith Wharton, The Age of Awesome

Eclectric Eccentric reviews Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s feminist fable Herland

Robert Ebert asks if anyone wants to be well read anymore.  I won’t start going on about the politics of canon formation here.  Read whatever you find meaningful, I say.

Speaking of which, from the Hathor Legacy, a list of feminist ‘sword, sorcery and sandal‘ books.

Female artists on tumblr, mainly a certain kind of NSFW female artist I should add.

Happy birthday to George Takei, Star Trek actor and gay rights activist.

From, a post about a movie called Zardoz which I haven’t seen, but really, really must one of these days

Poem: Christina Rossetti, ‘In an Artist’s Studio’

One face looks out from all his canvases,
One selfsame figure sits or walks or leans:
We found her hidden just behind those screens,
That mirror gave back all her loveliness.
A queen in opal or in ruby dress,
A nameless girl in freshest summer-greens,
A saint, an angel — every canvas means
The same one meaning, neither more or less.
He feeds upon her face by day and night,
And she with true kind eyes looks back on him,
Fair as the moon and joyful as the light:
Not wan with waiting, not with sorrow dim;
Not as she is, but was when hope shone bright;
Not as she is, but as she fills his dream.


Although Christina Rossetti was actively involved with the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood founded by her brother Dante Gabriel Rossetti, this is the anti-Pre-Raphaelite poem offering a severe critique of the gender dynamics underlying the ‘Brotherhood’s’ artistic values and, by implication, the wider Victorian society.

The feminine ideal that abounds in Victorian art objectifies women, idealisation reduces all women to the same ‘thing’ – male fantasy.  The turn in the ninth line represents the artist as vampire, his ‘dream’ not only objectifying his model, but also contributing to her oppression by becoming a way to actively ignore her reality.  During this period, most of the women who appear as queens and saints and angels in paintings were actually ‘fallen women’ and prostitutes who had been discarded by society.  In a wider sense it is a comment on the way the feminine ideal is deployed as a weapon against women.

There is another layer to Rossetti’s critique in her use of form here; this sonnet is an Italian or Petrarchan sonnet, the form used traditionally by poets like Petrarch and Dante to idealise women.  It’s a great example of how form and meaning are inextricably bound together in poetry.


Weekend Art

At the weekend we paid a visit to a Holman Hunt exhibition. Like a lot of white, middle-class teenage girls with slightly artistic pretensions, I went through a phrase of being “in love” with the Pre-Raphaelites, so this was something of a nostalgia trip for me. I still find them quite fascinating, in their very badness as well as their better moments, because they tell us so much about the Victorian world. Holman Hunt, we decided, was a good painter of bad art, sometimes hilariously bad art.  Looking at his more lurid paintings, you feel like you’re being beaten around the head with the symbolism:


‘The Awakening Conscience’

“Don’t get it yet? I’ll put it in the title for you.”

We also saw some D.G Rossetti (what is up with his women??), and some Byrne-Jones and Millais.

I was very impressed by the work of a painter called Valette, which we happened upon in another room, a French impressionist who lived in Manchester and taught Lowry. He applied impressionist techniques to the industrial urban landscape, resulting in beautiful mysterious paintings.  From the ridiculous to the sublime indeed.

Painting by Valette. Manchester in the nineteenth century

Then there was a bit of Augustus and Gwen John (love Gwen John), Francis Bacon (brrrr), David Hockney (yay!), Mogliadani (Hmm), Barbara Hepworth (yay), Lucian Freud (Hmm).