The dragonfly and an  incomplete metamorphosis 

It sounds like a contradiction in terms but an ‘incomplete metamorphosis’ is when an insect, such as a dragonfly, has a three stage life cycle instead of four and goes from egg to larva to adult.


Dragonflies were around over 300 million years ago and were amongst the first winged insects to evolve.  They have almost 360 degree vision and are a marvel of aerodynamic engineering being able to fly backwards and up to 20 mph.  They have four wings that they can operate separately and they are voracious predators.  There are over 6,000 species worldwide with the Globe Skimmer known to fly 18,000 Kms backwards and forwards across the Indian Ocean.  A great deal of information about British species is available at:  www.british-dragonflies.org.uk

This next piece of original art is by Annabel J Harris (I think) and about whom I can find no information on the internet.  However I think it is  rather unusual piece although difficult to tell the medium.

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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:

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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.

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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!

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Beneath the Snow Encumbered Branches

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By Joseph Farquharson.

This was one of Hallmark Cards most popular images on a Christmas card. The artist, Joseph Farquharson, was the Laird of Finzean. Finzean is an area situated in the North East of Scotland near Aberdeen. I think it is staggeringly beautiful and I wish I had found it in a charity shop but alas it was bought £145,000 some years ago so I think it unlikely even if the owner tired of it.

I found this photograph entitled ‘Winter Day at Finzean’ by Paul Chapman from Aberdeen. What a beautiful part of the world it must be.

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Howard who?

Back in June I was given a painting by my brother. He found it is a charity shop in High Wycombe and paid £2 for it. It was well framed and clearly painted by a accomplished artist. It was signed Howard and here it is:

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I have recently had a short break in St Ives, Cornwall staying at a hotel called Pedn Olva http://pednolva.co.uk. It is a lovely hotel sitting on the cliff top and overlooking St Ives. When I walked in I immediately noticed that most of the paintings on the walls in the corridors and in the rooms were by someone called Howard and, yes, they were instantly recognisable as the same artist. Here is the one that was in my room (excuse the reflection):

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Sadly, no one at the hotel seemed to know anything about Howard or the paintings but referred me to a particular gallery in St Ives. Someone at that gallery told me that the artist was a Howard Brown but more than that they did not know except that he was probably very old by now and that the hotel had bought all his paintings. Well, not all. Someone, somewhere has the Howard I re-homed and I hope they are enjoying it.

A Green Man

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This green man, or man with a green face, was bought locally for £1.75. It is an original, signed print marked EMF 1/8 and signed LRB. Needless to say I can find out little about EMF or LRB although they are both the names of bands.

I thought of The Incredible Hulk but decided he looked a little too pensive and not scary enough for that. So I looked up the history of green men. A traditional green man is usually surrounded by leaves and branches and is a figure from Pagan times. That green man is also found in churches and other sites across Europe. I don’t think he is that one.

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The ancient Egyptians showed Osiris with a green face and that dates back to 1295 BC. Definitely not him though.

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No, I think this artist just gave this man a green face because it suited him and I tend to agree. There is a very soulful expression on that face giving a rawness and naivety to the work. I like it a lot and I hope someone in Chipping Norton will like it too.

Abingdon – bun throwing since 1761

Abingdon (aka Abingdon-on-Thames) is a historic market town in Oxfordshire with the curious tradition of throwing buns from the roof of the County Hall Museum on specific days of celebration, most recently Elizabeth II’s Golden Jubilee. This tradition dates back over 250 years to 1761. I can’t quite make out why the buns have to be thrown but somehow the tradition started.

Abingdon sits on the River Thames and it is said to be one of Britain’s oldest continuously lived in towns with evidence of people having lived there 6000 years ago. It is certainly picturesque.

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This next picture is not an original but a print of East St Helen Street, Abingdon the original watercolour having been painted by Ron Cosford. Ron has a website:
roncosford.com on which this picture appears for sale at £25
together with many others of local scenes.

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In East St Helen Street there is the oldest, most complete medieval house which was built in 1431. The church in the distance is St Helen’s church first mentioned in the 10th century. For all this history we paid a mere £3.99 and it is a lovely watercolour too.

Is it a bird? Is it a …..

butterfly? Is it a fish? No, it is all three and a batik as well.

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I found this lovely batik in a local charity shop and it cost just £5. Was it a holiday souvenir I wonder? Not knowing very much about Indonesia I don’t know if this bird/butterfly/fish is a mythical creature from Indonesian culture or a figment of the artist’s imagination. What I did find out is that the art of batik has been declared by UNESCO as a Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity.

It is also considered to be an art as well as a craft and I hope that someone in Chipping Norton will feel the same and give it a new home where it can be appreciated for being all of these things.