The closest church to the sea

In Scotland, the closest church to the sea is St Monans which is situated on the north shore of the Firth of Forth.

The story goes that St Monan was buried at a shrine there and the village took his name. The church was built in 1265 to 1267 right beside the beach. It was rebuilt by King David II between 1362 and 1370 as a result of him having survived a storm at sea.
In the church there is at least one 18th century model ship hanging from the ceiling at the side of the transept. It was put there as a thanksgiving for the harvest from the sea.

This next picture is a very fine pen and ink drawing of the interior of the church and is entitled ‘The Ship in the Kirk, St Monans’. I say it is very fine because the perspective is almost spot on when it must have been quite difficult to draw. It is signed by quite an elaborate monogram and I would think the artist was Scottish because of the use of the word ‘Kirk’. I would also say it is quite old, possibly from the 1920s/30s. It cost £5 which is at the top of our price range but well worth it.



Where is Sunset Gorge and who is Helga?

It could be In America or Australia or any number of places but let’s look at the one in America as it does look spectacular.

This Sunset Gorge is also known as the Columbia River Gorge and is a canyon that the river runs through between Washington State and Oregon in Pacific North West America.

Then there is Helga.
This is Helga Testorf, a neighbour and model for 240 works by the American artist Andrew Wyeth.

Then there is Sunset Gorge by Helga, a silk painting I found in a local charity shop for £3.99. I think it is rather unusual and quite decorative (and I don’t think it has anything to do with the above Gorge or the above Helga).


Halcyon Days the story

According to Greek mythology, Alcyone, daughter of Aeolus and Ceyx threw herself into the sea when her husband drowned in a shipwreck. The gods transformed them into kingfishers. Aeolus calmed the waves for seven days, either side of the winter solstice, so she could lay her eggs. These became know as the Halcyon Days; days of calm, peace, prosperity and abundance. From the word Halcyon we get the name of the kingfisher.

Nowadays we tend to think of Halcyon Days as the sunny days of our youth that we look back on with nostalgia.

My next piece of charity shop art is a beautifully executed embroidery of a kingfisher sitting on a branch above some water, as they do, with another diving into the water below. There are no clues on it as to when, how, where and by whom it was created. I wonder if they were thinking of their Halcyon Days as they stitched.


Autumn’s Evocations

Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness,
Close busom-friend of the maturing sun

So wrote John Keats in his poem To Autumn which celebrates that season in all it’s glory. Emily Bronte, however, saw it in a completely different light:

Fall, leaves, fall; die, flowers, away;
Lengthen night and shorten day

Emily (above) finishes this poem:
I shall sing when night’s decay
Ushers in a drearier day.

Oh dear, poor Emily!

This next oil painting is entitled Warm Autumn 1970 and is signed by HKC. I think it is more of a Keatsian celebration of the season and might grace anybody’s wall. I have photographed it without the frame which rather detracted from the painting as it was a bit rough and ready. Hope it inspires you!


The world’s ugliest statue?

This statue (the eighth tallest in the world) stands on the Moskva River in Moscow. It is of Peter the Great and commemorates 300 years of the Russian navy which Peter the Great founded. It is 328ft high and weighs in at over 600 tons. It was created by Zurab Tseretelli and has courted much controversy over the years. Apparently Peter the Great hated Moscow and moved the capital of Russia to St Petersberg. Many Moscovites would like the statue moved there too!

It was erected in 1997 but just 10 years earlier another Russian artist did a beautiful little etching of part of the Moskva River and somehow it found its way to a charity shop in Oxfordshire selling for just £1. I can’t read Russian so I can’t read the signature or the label on the back. Is there anyone out there who can? Here it is followed by the label on the back which has a rather interesting picture of a hand and dove on it. A mystery.



Here is the church

Here is the steeple
Open the door and
See all the people

Remember doing that as a child?
I have tried to find out the origins of the rhyme but without success.
However steeples go back a long, long way. Think Egyptians and obelisks. Church steeples and towers, however, were built high to be seen from far off as well as being bell or clock towers and all pointing towards heaven at the same time.
As far as I can tell, this next painting depicts a Norman church tower, somewhere in the English countryside, but where it is I do not know (I wish artists would put a bit more information on the back of their paintings). It is signed simply EJ. It is a watercolour and reminiscent of many an English churchyard and it only cost £3. What a gem.


The day’s eye

or, more commonly, the daisy. Meaning innocence, purity and new beginnings. This humble plant accounts for 10% of all the flowering plants on earth AND provides protection against fairies.

I found this next print whilst having a short break in the South West of England, Cornwall to be precise. It is signed Judi and entitled Seashore Daisy. I have tried to find out about the artist but there are numerous artists called Judi including one that lives in Cornwall but the signatures don’t match so it can’t be her. Anyway, it is a lovely little print and it only cost £3.