A “White Settlement”

is the Old Norse name from which the North Yorkshire town of Whitby derives it’s name. Whitby became a fishing port sometime in the Middle Ages with the earliest known settlement in about 656. To this day it boasts a maritime, mineral and tourist heritage.

One of Whitby’s most famous sons is the photographer Frank Meadow Sutcliffe (Hon.FRPS). Mr Sutcliffe developed the idea of photography as art and between 1875 and 1910 won over 60 gold, silver and bronze medals exhibiting as far afield as Tokyo and the USA. To this day there is a gallery of his work in Whitby http://www.sutcliffe-gallery.co.uk

Here are a couple of examples of his work:


And here a view of the docks at Whitby:


My own interest in Frank Sutcliffe derives from a find of one of his photographs entitled “Peace”. On the back it tells me it is of Mrs Ann Scarth of Glaisdale taken on the doorway of her home Rock Head Cottage and that this particular portrait was published in 1987 by the above Sutcliffe Gallery.
Here she is:



Sweet Peas


Sweet peas were developed by Henry Eckford (1823-1905) by crossbreeding plants from seeds sent to England by a Sicilian monk called Franciscus Cupani in 1699. Henry Eckford was originally a Scottish nurseryman but moved to Wem in Shropshire in 1888 which is where he perfected the breeding of this plant. “The Prince of Specialists” he was awarded the Victoria Medal of Honour by the Royal Horticultural Society and had upwards of 85 gold and silver medals for his work.

My next charity shop find is a beautiful pastel drawing of sweet peas in a tankard. Unfortunately the frame got broken but the drawing is unharmed. I am not sure what it cost and the signature is illegible but it was still worth writing about.


A (very, very) short history of the nude in art

The Willendorf Venus is thought to be the oldest depiction of the female nude and is dated at 30,000 to 25,000 BC. She was made to be held and is probably a fertility symbol. Here she is in all her glory:


In the 6th and 5th centuries BC the male nude was used in Greek art to depict the ideal hero. After the rise of Christianity the use of nude figures decreased and were only used in terms of shame as for example with Adam and Eve. In 15th century Italy drawing from life became more common practice but female models were not used. Great artists such as Leonardo became more and more interested in human anatomy. By the 16th century the use of nudes in art became more widespread with paintings by artists such as Titian becoming increasingly sensual.

We are very familiar with the 19th century paintings of nudes such Olympia (1863) by Manet. Note how she brazenly looks out towards her audience – shocking at the time but quite acceptable now.


It might be interesting to note that the use of nudes in art is mainly a phenomenon of Western art.

This takes me on to my next charity shop find. In 1994 an artist with the initials WP made a really beautiful monotype print of a nude. I think this is skilfully executed and has a peacefulness and beauty all of its own. It only cost £2.99 and I am quite tempted to keep it for myself!


Lilies – the story

In Greek mythology, Zeus wanted his illegitimate son Hercules, to become a god. In order to do this he needed to put his wife Hera to sleep so that Hercules could suck at her breast. Hercules did this so aggressively that the milk overflowed. Some milk went to heaven and became the Milky Way and some went to earth and became the white lily. The lily became a symbol for motherhood to the Greeks and to Christians they are a symbol of chastity and innocence.

Orange lilies however, are supposed to be a symbol of happiness love and warmth.


I found this next wax crayon drawing of orange lilies in a local charity shop and paid less than £1 for it. There are no clues as to who the artist might be or when it was drawn. It has kept its vibrancy really well.


Red sails, teddy bears and the Hokey Cokey?

What have these three got in common? Answer: the lyricist Jimmy Kennedy (1902-1984). Kennedy, who came from Northern Ireland, wrote the words to over 2000 songs including Red Sails in the Sunset, Teddy Bears Picnic and The Hokey Cokey.
Here he is:


And here is a yacht in the sunset which is what took me down this path in the first place – sails, sunset, etc. etc.


This is because my next charity shop find is a yacht in the sunset somewhere and signed D.A. Eades. It is a watercolour with absolutely no clue as to where it could be but it only cost £1.99 and now I know all about Jimmy Kennedy.