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Retro Book and Magazine Covers

September 16, 2019

Hello everyone, it’s been a while since I’ve selected and shown some of the fabulous vintage Book and Magazine covers that are around. They always make me smile and feel content, don’t ask me why. I’m so glad there’s a modern retro design theme going on in the world of bookcovers at the moment. Looking back in fifty years what will they be known as, retro- revisited covers ?

Let’s start with some funky graphic shapes.

Sculptural, architectural and crafty covers.

Loved these spidery typing fingers.

Time for a little red and orange crime relief.

So many great Agatha Christie covers, I wonder how many times her work has been reprinted ?

Interiors… looking at exteriors.

More sculptural shapes.

Some moody blues !

Keeping an eye on the vintage cover.

A couple of fab pages from Alice and Martin Provensen’s Myths and Legends and other volumes.

Some wacky space-age Sci-fi cover illustations.

German designer and animator Henning Max Lederer took 55 vintage books and set the cover graphics in motion to achieve psychedelic results.

Hopefully something for everyone. What floated your boat today ? ; )

Rut Bryk Finnish Ceramics Part 2

September 9, 2019

Welcome back to Part 2 of my post about Finnish Ceramist Rut Bryk. If you missed part 1 you can read it here.

The book above was published in conjunction with Rut Bryk’s centenary exhibition (2016) and produced by EMMA (Espoo Museum of Modern Art). Copies are still available here.

In the book. Harri Kalha, who befriended the artist as a young art student, tells Bryk’s story, combining art historical narrative with vivid, intimate details. He introduces us to a timid, publicity-shy experimenter who became a cosmopolitan modernist through her unshakeable faith in the power of art.

Her houses are a little religious, some apparently were almost half a metre in height !

The walls of the Venetian palace are swaying, and the architecture is asymmetrical, but the edges of the tile make the building a delightful whole. Imagination wakes up – what is happening inside the palace. Through the decorative windows gleams the light. The artist´s color scheme resembles the old stained-glass paintings of the churches.

You can better appreciate their scale from this image I found from the storage at the EMMA Museum.

Rut Bryk often portrayed home, buildings, home-related harmonic things. She also described sacred places, such as churches and chapels. The home can be thought of as a sacred place where beauty and creativity flourished. She showed that there was no clear boundary between art and life.

The house is probably one of the quietest object that does not move or change.

The house also closes on the noise of the outside world, and then returns the inhabitants to a state of silence. Closed spaces spark memories but can also help with forgetting and letting go. According to Sigmund Freud, the house reflects dreamers themselves on many different levels. A poorly-built house can tell about her/his own neglect, the closed shutters of the building signal the closure of the outside world, and the broken windows may leave the house to strangers and other people ideas to influence their own minds. The doors of the house also have their own meaning: the door opening outward tells about the need for opening out and the inwardly swinging door reveals the need to examine the interior.

Finding new rooms or secret passages from the house suggests finding new sides of themselves. Finding this before unknown potential is usually a pleasant and restorative experience. Dreaming is like a fairytale stage – whatever is possible.

The houses turned from 2D into 3D and became almost like cities.

Rut’s work grew in the 1960s as an architectural puzzle of countless small tiles. The colour effects continued to play an important role, but the nostalgic narrative of everyday life decended to geometric structuring. Increasingly large compositions were created from the jewel-like, deep-coloured, matt, and glossy tiles. They could be displayed in a variety of arrangements.

The detail and variety still make me gasp.

During her years at Arabia, Rut’s working method consisted of covering the floor of the 9th floor studio with tiles with the help of her assistant and then getting up on a tall platform to look down at them from above. Over and over again, the two of them would rearrange the tiles piece by piece, then go up and take another look from the platform to see if the arrangement was pleasing.

If the artist is to somehow be described, her attitude can be perceived as animistic, that is, “the rock, the houses, everything” was her soul, and reaching it was the main task of art, otherwise it is just about surface and shaping forms. Rut’s art is like borrowing from a fairy tale. The most important features of the fairy tale are crossing the border of animism in culture and nature, in the world of fairy tales, humans are in contact with natural elements that take on human qualities.

I imagine she enjoyed creating all these ceramic plaques and in using her skills as a colourist to make the end results positively shine.

Birds and butterflies were an important theme for Rut. Both represented the artist with the momentary movement of beauty. The bird and egg themes both symbolise the cycle of life. Her favorite bird was a crow, a more earthly symbol rather than a lofty one.

Here we see this rather tatty crow repeated over and over again.

Wonderful contrasts between the long rose panels and her wooden carving and Bird plaques below.

A sense of calm in some of these too.

Beautiful colours, forms and textures here.

Rut Bryk developed her own technique in 1948, making her one of the most celebrated Finnish ceramic artists of the 1950s. The new plaster molding technique was used to produce square tiles in which delicate color schemes were confined to elevated contours. Successful work required several experiments. Colours for ceramic tiles did not appear until they were burned. Rut loved this technique, which was like a magic trick. However, there was a long training period, during which she learnt how to develop and create a very pleasing colour palette.

The imperfection of the glazing and the rough surfaces gave depth. Rut was also fascinated by the ceramic effects created by chance. Over the course of the 1960s and 1970s, the motifs in her work slowly shifted from literal representations of plants, animals and religious themes toward much more abstract compositions inspired by her broad-ranging imagination. Minimal colour gave way to more attention to shape, texture and form.

Some pieces make me think of Mary Blair’s designs for Disneyland.

But then Rut had a design style all of her own.

She created many mosaics for public spaces in government institutions, hospitals and corporate headquarters. ‘City in the Sun’ (1975), a ceramic wall relief that covers a large expanse in the lobby of Helsinki City Hall, is beloved by many local citizens.

“Ice Flow” (1987-91), a ceramic wall relief that covers a large expanse of wall in the Official Residence of the President of Finland, depicts the nature and miracles that people may or may not encounter during their life on earth. The scale fills the people who look at it with disbelief, leading both to surprise and a sense of awe and respect.

She created Ice Flow just before the death of her husband. “Making that piece gave my mother the strength to keep on living,” thinks Maaria (her daughter). “If that is so, it’s the greatest tribute to my father.”

Or simply “Tree” which is located at the Bank of Finland. The scale of these installations in themselves are breathtaking and Rut’s attention to detail is truely astounding.

When it comes to how Rut worked, the essentials were: How many pieces, and pieces of what sizes, are needed? What patterns are to be created? What is the extent of the variation in color needed? What about variations in texture? What glazes will work together best? Are 100 patterns needed, or 200? Rut’s work centered not just on preparing the materials. Tending to mundane details may seems the opposite of creative, but the humdrum tasks of actually checking each individual piece and figuring out how the pieces go together was nothing if not essential. But more than that, creating a harmonious composition means using your body, arms and hands in a roundabout process of trial and error. Each attempt requires unflagging effort and a dispassionate eye. In the end the reward is the realization of the image the artist created in her mind.

Her later works have an aura about them that arrests those who view them. The thousands of tightly interlocking ceramic pieces that come together to make up a carefully planned composition concentrate the viewer. It is similar to the experience of a concertgoer who has arrived late and is swept up by the music the minute the door to the concert hall opens. There is an overwhelming feeling that comes with the experience of seeing one of Rut’s later works where her expressiveness is at its most powerful.

Another well-known set of ceramics by Rut is the tableware she designed in collaboration with her husband Tapio Wirkkala for the German porcelain manufacturer Rosenthal. Their tableware design radiates a tranquility that transcends the fact it is intended for repeated daily use. Again we see themes of trees and houses arise but in a flatter more illustrative form.

One of my all time favourite pieces of Rut’s work is her ceramic lion.

No wonder he’s supporting a King of the Jungle crown. I do think he’s quite splendidly regal.

I hope you’ve enjoyed visiting my site this week and looking through the work of this amazing ceramist with me. If you have, please let me know, just drop me a simple comment to say what you’ve enjoyed or what you might like to see more of on Fishinkblog. Your comments and feedback are so important, however small they all help to make this a shared experience.

For more information on Rut Bryk, visit the Wirkkala – Bryk Foundation and the Espoo Museum of Modern Art (EMMA). There’s a touring exhibition in Japan

RUT BRYK : Touch of a butterfly

and here are more of the tour dates and venues.

2019 7 Sep – 20 Oct. Itami City Museum of Art
2020 25 Apr. – 5 Jul. Museum of Modern Ceramic Art, Gifu
2020 18 Jul. – 6 Sep. Kurume City Art Museum
2020 10 Oct. – 6 Dec. The Niigata Bandaijima Art Museum

I so wish it was a little nearer for me to travel and see her work first hand ! If anyone in Japan does go, please leave me your thoughts afterwards.

Many thanks again to Hiroko Wakai, EMMA and Kunst Portal for some of the information in this post.

Rut Bryk Finnish Ceramics Part 1

September 2, 2019

Today I have a real treat for you in store, as I recently disovered the amazing work by Finnish Ceramist Rut Bryk (1916-1999). So rich is the body of her work, that I have not one, but two posts for you to be revealed over the next two weeks ! You lucky people lol

So relax, pour yourself a brew and enjoy.

She was born into an intellectual-artistic family. Her father Felix was an Austrian biologist who worked in Sweden. Her mother Aino was Finnish and came from a family of artists. The well-known national-romantic painter Pekka Halonen (1865-1933) was Aino’s cousin. During the summers the family spent in Finland on the shores of Lake Ladoga, Felix would catch insects as a hobby and for study, and Rut often came along to help. Many of the motifs in Rut’s work derive from the appreciation of living things she developed growing up in this family. This seeming idyllic, at the same time there was a dark side to her childhood. Her parents broke with social convention and divorced when she was still quite young. Around the same time her younger sister died, adding to her suffering. After the divorce she and her mother went to live in Finland. Rut attended and graduated as a graphic designer from the School of Arts and Crafts in Helsinki in 1939.

After graduating she worked in textile design. It was only after Kurt Ekholm (1907-1975), the Swedish-trained art director at Arabia Ceramics, hired her for the fact that her aptitude for sculptural and architectural forms was extrememly impressive.

She was almost a stranger to ceramics when she started experimenting with the raw material that was later to bring her world renown. Her early decorative wall plaques show a magic world of imaginative flowers and fairies dancing in the woods. The colouring is luminous and light. Her faience plaques have a strange and strong glow. Her painted plaques in faience display intense colours due to thick glazing. She also used glazing to enhance the depth dimension of the plaques. In the ”ceramic paintings” from the 1950s she uses delicate lines in relief to emphasise the motifs.

After defeat in World War II, Finland recovered rapidly as if by a miracle and Helsinki hosted the 1952 Olympics. Finland flourished in the mid-century. Finnish artists and designers in many disciplines were finding themselves winners at the art and design show, the Milan Triennale. It was a time of increasing awareness of their work.

In 1945, Rut married another artist, Tapio Wirkkala, a famed designer and sculptor renowned for his boundless skill and imagination. Tapio was a great supporter of his wife in all her creative endeavours. The couple shared a love of early Renaissance art, a passion that Rut inherited from her childhood home. On their first trip together they travelled to Italy, which over the years became important wellspring of creative inspiration and beloved place to work. Another cherished spot was their wilderness retreat in Lapland, where the couple spent every summer working on their art and enjoying family life.

In 1948 she gave birth to her son Sami and in 1954 to her daughter Maaria. With the two children to take care of in addition to her work, this was a very busy period in her life.  Tapio took the Grand Prix in Category 3 at the Triennale in Milan in 1951, Rut’s tiles were also awarded with the highest prize. The couple was established before the eyes of the top of the design world.

The new plaster molding technique was used to produce square tiles in which delicate colour schemes were confined to elevated contours. A successful work required several experiments. Colours for ceramic tiles did not appear until they were burned. She loved this technique, which to her was like a magic trick.

What’s interesting about this period is how the themes of religious faith and nature that ran through Rut’s work evolved in the direction of greater abstraction. Starting in the 1960s she created numerous works that incorporated a wide variety of motifs. These works began to go far beyond simple depictions of the image underlying the motifs. Her work from this period increasingly began to explore her inner world of imagination.

I love this Noah’s Ark.

Various Tree motifs.

Ships, bottles and even a ship inside a bottle.

A collection of heads with different colours and surface treatments.

Flowers in frames and decorative boxes.

Lead into more ideas about compartments and collections of items, objects and textures.

Rut’s imagery is an original combination of elements taken from the Byzantium, early renaissance, folk art and constructivism. Geometric basic forms were used as additional decoration in the idyllic everyday scenes of the ’40s and ’50s, but since the ’60s they have been employed as subjects in their own right.

Check back for part 2 of this post next Monday.

Many thanks to Hiroko Wakai, EMMA and Kunst Portal for some of the information in this post.

Andy Lovell Etching our Landscapes

August 27, 2019

Hope you had a great Bank Holiday weekend in the UK, I know it was a scorcher here.I was awy for the weekend, which is why you find me here on a Tuesday morning instead, did you miss me ?

I first spoke about the work of Andy Lovell back in 2010. His work pops up in my searches every now and again and I remember what fab illustrations he creates.

He is an artist, illustrator and printmaker who has become known for his abstract etchings, mono-prints and Cyanotype art.

Having originally studied at the Liverpool School of Art and Design, his work is well recognised and his individuality produces striking artwork.

Andy takes inspiration from life which is then revisited through the medium of print.

He is a master of line, colour and mark making.

Taking original sketches and paintings, Andy is able to capture a real sense of mood and place from the places he visits to sketch.

He knows how to add drama and interest to a landscape.

His landscapes speak of earth and furrowed fields. Forest and wildplants throw splashes of colour and shape, adding to the richness of each illustration.

I love these wild moor and lofty hill prints. The clever dragged lines of ink and paint not only help to suggest the landscape but also give a visual direction to each scene.

You can almost feel like you’re standing looking down these valleys.

The hills eventually lead us to the sea.

White cliffs and wild waters.

Tepid tones, swirling skies and seas.

These textured black and whites are wonderful, with a slight sixties retro edge to them.

Breathtaking textures.

You can discover more of his prints for sale here on his website.

Home, Home on the Range !

August 19, 2019

If you’ve ever had that feeling that you would like to live somewhere a little more isolated, or perhaps wish to escape the consumer culture and plan a life on your own.

Here’s a few interesting options to consider.

The Katshi pillar is a natural monolith located near the village of Katskhi in western Georgia. The pillar its approximately 40 metres high and overlooks a small river. The rock has a small medieval hermitage on its top which has been dated between the 9th and 12th century and was used by Stylites, Christians who lived on top of pillars to avoid worldly temptation until the 15th century when the practice wsa stopped following the Ottoman Invasion of Georgia. While the pillar had remained unclimbed until 1944 religious activities started again in the nineties and now a monk lives there full time and takes 20 minutes of vertical stairs just to get down from the pillar.

The 59-year-old monk Maxime Qavtaradze is the only inhabitant of the pillar. His only visitors are priests and a group of troubled young men who are seeking solace in the monastry at the foot of the pillar. A photographer called Amos Chapple paid a visit to the Stylite monk Maxime but was not at first allowed up onto the pillar. Instead he had to spend four days taking part in seven hours of daily prayers including a four hour stint from 2am until sunrise. When he finally was granted permission to scale the ‘dicey’ ladder to the top, he was worried that it might be too dark to get back down. After making it to the top, Maxime told Amos that he became a monk after a stretch in prison and decided he wanted to make a change. The monk slept in a fridge when he first moved to the top of the pillar, but now has a bed inside a cottage.

Ellidaey is an island in the Vestmann Islands, south of Iceland, on this Island there is one lonely house. The story of this secluded house is fascinating.

“Three hundred years ago, Elliðaey was inhabited by five families. They lived there in huts and survived by fishing and raising cattle on the island’s grassy pasture — and by hunting puffins. Over the next two centuries, sustaining a community on Ellidaey became increasingly impractical and unappealing (to say nothing of inbred). People started to leave; sometime in the 1930s, the last permanent residents of Elliðaey moved away.

The island’s former residents found that Iceland had many places more economical than Ellidaey from which to fish and raise cattle. But, as it turned out, there weren’t too many better places for hunting puffins. So, in the early 1953, the Ellidaey Hunting Association built a lodge on the island for its members to use during their commando puffin missions.

Hidden between the mountains in northern Portugal near the city of Fafe and a large wind field is the “Casa do Penedo”. (Top Image) The house was built starting from four giant rocks that were already on site and it was inspired by the American cartoon “the Flinstones”.

The house was built in 1974 by a local family and was supposed to be their vacation house. However, over the past years the house started to attract attention from tourists, architecture enthusiasts and others fascinated by its complete integration with the surrounding nature.

The Irony of this story is that as the interest for the house grow the owner Vitor Rodriguez, had to move elsewhere to find the peace he was looking for.

Because of its popularity the house has been increasingly targeted by thieves and robber who believe it must contain something valuable. So, the house now has bullet proof windows and a full metal door. Nonetheless, the interior remains comfortable and rural with stone and wood furniture.

The Crystal Mill (Old Mill) or historically known as the Sheep Mountain Mill, is one of the most beautiful, picturesque and reputed to be the most photographed area in Colorado state. It’s located above the Crystal River in Crystal, Colorado, between the towns of Glenwood Springs and Aspen on Highway 82, seven miles southeast of Marble.

The Crystal Mill is reachable only in the summer and fall months; it is accessed by a road that requires a four-wheel-drive vehicle, a sturdy pair of boots, a mountain bike or a horse. Operation shut down in 1917, but the site has been preserved with the help of the Gunnison and Aspen historical societies. The Crystal Mill is a wooden powerhouse built in 1892, added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1985. Astonishing is that Crystal never had nor does it have now, electricity.

Taktsang Palphug Monastery is more well known as Paro Taktsang and is a Buddhist temple complex which clings to a cliff, 3120 metres above the sea level on the side of the upper Paro valley, Bhutan. Mountainous Paro valley is the heart of Bhutan; here the only international airport of the country is located.The Taktsang Palphug Monastery is one of the most famous touristic destinations of the country and the cultural icon of Bhutan. Visiting the Paro Taktsang Monastery is an unforgettable experience thanks to its unique location and the views of surrounding majestic mountains and emerald green valleys.

The remote location of the monastery makes it amazingly beautiful and unique, but also creates technical difficulties. When on April 19, 1998 a fire started in the Monastery it was burned down completely: the temple was hard to access and the emergency assistance was impossible.

No wonder, that when you are looking at the Taktsang Palphug monastery from Paro valley or from the bottom of the cliff, it seems almost impossible to reach the Monastery. In fact, there are three paths leading to the holy place. The first path is a trail passing through the pine forest and decorated with bright, prayer bannerettes symbolizing protection from evil forces, positive energy, vitality and good luck. he other two paths are passing through the plateau, called “a hundred thousand fairies’ plateau.”

The refined architectural appearance of the Monastery is shaped in the best traditions of Buddhist. The complex has white buildings with golden roofs. Paro Taktsang Monastery consists of the 4 main temples and several dwellings. All buildings are interconnected by staircases with steps carved into the rock. Almost every single buildings of the monastery complex has a balcony with a breathtaking view of the surrounding area. The main shrine of the monastery -the prayer wheel is located in the courtyard of the temple. Every morning at 4 a.m. it is being rotated by monks to mark the beginning of a new day.

The interior design of the temple impresses with its luxurious beauty: gold-plated dome and flickering lights that are illuminating golden idols. In the hall of Thousand Buddhas, which is carved into the rock, a large statue of a tiger is located. The tiger is respected as the symbol of Paro Taktsang because of the legend, according to which the location of the Monastery was chosen by a tigress. The tigress brought here on her back the founder of Bhutan’s Buddhism guru Padmasmabhava.

There are eight caves in the monastery; four of them are comparatively easy to access. The cave where Padmasmabhava is believed to have entered first, on the back of the tiger, is known as “Tholu Phuk” cave and the one where he meditates is known as the “Pel Phuk”. Monks of the monastery are supposed to live and meditate in these caves for 3 years. They rarely visit the adjacent Paro valley.

Located at the Canadian-US border on the St. Lawrence River east of Ontario, Just Room Enough Island was named by the Sizeland family who purchased it as a vacation lodge in the 1950s. What the Sizelands didn’t expect was that Just Room Enough Island would quickly become a popular tourist attraction because of its oddity.

Just Room Enough Island is part of the Thousand Islands in the St. Lawrence River. It is the smallest of the 1,864 islands in the famous archipelago shared by the cities of Ontario and New York. The Island counts as a legitimate part of the Thousand Islands because it satisfies these state-given criteria: 1) Above water level year round; 2) Have an area greater than 1 square foot (0.093 m2); and 3) Support at least one living tree.

And if that doesn’t float your boat (groan) or your home, then be careful what you wish for  : )

Interior-wise If I had a choice, I’d choose to live in the buildings below. Stocked with sixties retro furniture… naturally!

So if you live in one of these type of homes, please feel free to ask me over to stay for a few days lol

Even for a short break, I’d find this environment inspirational and creative for drawing.

Alternatively you can borrow from Sculptor Offentlig Konst and take your home with you… on legs!

Finally here’s a couple of other tucked away home environments.

Which one is your favourite ?

Bill Sokol Mid Century Childrens Book Illustrator

August 12, 2019

Bill Sokol is rather elusive online, apart from his sad obituary from the NY Times in 2004 and his fabulous book illustrations, there is little info to discover.

I did track down this little gem which tells us a little more.

He must have illustrated about 40 books from the mid sixties onward. Many for children, joke books, stories, fables and even…

… one or two with his wife Camille.

Interesting to see his wide variety of styles.

Books on how to sew.

Some for the space cadets.

Or those who like animals.

Or nature.

Books for teenagers.

About history and legends.

Books for adults too.

Here’s a small selection of the covers he has created.

Alvin was obviously a popular choice.

Life in the woods for Proffit the Fox.

Naturally I love these sixties posters, don’t they just make your mind feel relaxed straight away.

If anyone knows any more info about this wonderful illustrator, do send me a message. Thank you and Happy Monday to everyone.

Lena Krempich Beetle Art

August 5, 2019

If you suffer from Entomophobia (i.e. a specific phobia characterized by an excessive or unrealistic fear of one or more classes of insect) then today’s post may not be for you. Because today I’m looking at the beautiful work of Russian Embroidery Artist Lena Krempich and it’s all about bugs!

With a little help from Googles skill at translating Russian to English, I sent some questions to Lena and she sent some replies and here we are with a short interview. Isn’t technology great when it works lol

Hi Lena, thanks for agreeing to take part on Fishinkblog today.

Where did you first study your art ?

Hi Craig, It’s a pleasure for me to show my work to your readers, however I didn’t study anywhere, I taught myself everything. I’ve had a needle in my hands since I was 5 years old. Thank you to my mum for not being afraid to give a small child a needle !

How long have you been making insects and what got you interested in them to begin with ?

I made the first beetle about six years ago, it is still kept by me. Of course, it is very different from those bugs I am making now. Insects have attracted me since childhood. I read a lot about them. I could sit in the grass for hours and watch them. Unfortunately, I was not allowed to bring them home.

I also loved sewing and embroidering. So my two hobbies grew into one – textile sculptures of insects with embroidery. A perfect fit.

Roughly how long does it take you to make one Beetle ?

The creation of one beetle takes an average of about three full days.

Have you ever had someone be frightened when you wear them on your clothes ?

Personally I am not afraid even of living beetles, so of course I’m not afraid to wear them myself. But there were cases when passersby noticed a beetle on me and shuddered. Then, realizing that it was not real or alive, they sighed with relief.

I assume you know the work of Mr Finch ?

Oh, of course I am familiar with the work of Mr. Finch, they are amazing! I follow his creations.

Which artists inspire you today ?

I like and follow the work of these people on Instagram
Polalab Beskonechnayaistoriya Peresvetti Cedricmarcillac Disfairy.ilaria Kuroda_yoshie Mosmeatextileart Lemonpepperstudio

How wonderful to see the many stages that go into the creation of one of your fabric beetles. Your photography really helps to show them off clearly.

Many thanks Lena for showing the Fishinkblog readers your intricate and stunning work.

If you’re feeling the insect love and would like a tame one for yourself, head over to Lena’s Etsy shop here.