Sunday, January 27, 2013

Sunday Stamps - Inuit art

We have our choice for Sunday Stamps, so this week I would like to remember renowned Inuk artist Kenojuak who passed away January 8, 2013 at her home in Cape Dorset, Nunavut (formerly part of The Northwest Territories). She was born in 1927 and led a nomadic life around Baffin island before settling in Cape Dorset. Kenojuak Ashevak was the last surviving member of the Cape Dorset arts co-operative
You can see more of her works at the Spirit Wrestler Gallery website

The Return of the Sun (stonecut 1961) Kenojuak Ashevak (in 1980 for the Inuit series)

The Enchanted Owl (stonecut 1960) in 1970 for the Centennial of The Northwest Territories
and another Owl (drawing 1969) for the 1993 series of Masterpieces of Canadian Art

(my copy of the Enchanted Owl has a messy cancellation mark on it, so both of these are from the Postal Archives website)

Although the Inuit are an ancient civilization, little was known of their artistic pursuits until James Houston arrived in 1948 as the civil administrator for West Baffin. He introduced print-making to the local artists and Kenojuak soon distinguished herself in the field. Born in 1927 at the Baffin Island camp of Ikerrasak, she was originally reluctant to undertake drawing, since this was the domain of men. However, she took the paper offered by Mrs. Houston, beginning her fascination with the graphic arts. She works mainly in graphite, coloured pencils and felt-tip pens, rarely using poster paints, watercolours or acrylics. Many of her prints are not "pure Kenojuak", since the addition of colour shading and texturing is done by lithographers. This year's masterpiece displays the original work - a "true Kenojuak", which reveals much about her original techniques. Not attempting realism, she embellishes her work to the point of abstraction. She insists that the owl has no special significance, but everytime she faces a piece of paper, an owl always seems to emerge. (archives website, 1993)

Saturday, January 26, 2013

how to see the world

Plans were underway for a trip overseas when my car got a little jealous at the thought of being left behind. I am now paying dearly for the poor thing's hurt feelings. Any trips this year will be with my restored beloved automobile. And probably not very far.

In the meantime, I have been enthralled with the 16x-around-the-world-a-day trip of Chris Hadfield. He is our prolific astronaut twitterer aboard the International Space Station. His tweets have included amazing photos of earth from his office window. I wish I knew how to capture a screen grab, but since I haven't mastered that, go to Commander Hadfield's feed here and see for yourself.

and there is an interview you can see here.

Seriously. Go. Now. There are some great photos of Down Under in honour of Australia Day.

Friday, January 25, 2013

an ode

This being Robbie Burns Night, it seems only appropriate for Postcard Friendship Friday that we have
 a (rather tattered) postcard from Postcrosser Jean who lives in Alloway, South Ayrshire, Scotland
featuring his portrait by A Nasmyth, Burns Cottage and the Brig O'Doon
(click on the links to learn more if you are unfamiliar)

and as a bonus here is one that I keep in my 'boring postcards' file. Not because Bannockburn, or Robert the Bruce is boring, but really.... you can barely see the beauty of this statue

The King of Scots and his gallant steed look as if they are saying "my job is done, Scotland is saved from the English, now I am off..."

The battle of Bannockburn in 1314 marked the end of the wars between England and Scotland that had been going on intermittently since king Alexander of Scotland rode his horse off a cliff in 1286, leaving the nation leaderless. The conclusion was that Scotland was to be an independent nation. Bannockburn was therefore one of the most consequential battles in British history. King Edward the Second of England, who lost the battle, was literally chased out of Scotland. The victor of the battle, Robert Bruce, became King Robert the First of independent Scotland.

William Wallace [played by Mel Gibson in the 1995 movie Braveheart]
struggled unsuccessfully in the 1290s to do what Bruce at last accomplished in 1314. To be fair to Wallace, his opponent, Edward the First, was a much more formidable foe than Edward the Second.
You can read the poem Burns wrote here (in old Scots, Gaelic or English - your choice)

and no, there will be no haggis for me tonight
though I have tried it and it really isn't as bad as you might expect.
as a burger would be my preference.

I will, however, have a wee dram (just to keep this winter chill off, mind......)


Wednesday, January 23, 2013

the fire is so delightful

it is still bitterly cold outside, and I have spent the day drinking tea and sitting by the fire

I found this on an impromptu stop at an antique shop where everything was on sale
and even though it is not my style of mid-century modern or art deco, 
I just had to have it

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

oh, the weather outside is frightful

It is frightfully cold outside.
-19C with a windchill of -29C or -2F with a windchill of -20F

Apparently it is -13 (9F) with a windchill of -16 (3F) in Edmonton which Oprah says is colder than Siberia. She wishes she had been warned that it might be cold in Alberta. In winter.
And doesn't she live in Chicago? Where it is ... 9F (at time of writing)
I was going to say something sarcastic, but having looked up the average mean temperatures in Siberia.... she is almost right. Edmonton though, actually has milder temperatures than, say, Winnipeg, which is quite a bit further south. Were she heading there next instead of Vancouver, she'd be facing a bitter
-27C/-8F with a windchill of -39C which, co-incidentally, is -38.2F

But it would still not beat this part of  Siberia

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Sunday Stamps - cartoon drawings

it is time for some Sunday funnies over at Viridian's

the first Finnish comic book was created in 1911 and in November 2011 a sheet  of stamps celebrating the first six decades was designed by Ville Tietäväinen.
For the 1950s, the stamp features Kili ja Possu, written by Olavi Vikainen (1915-2005), who specialized in animal characters in children's comics that were published in a number of Finnish and Swedish papers.

I am not sure why the google translations insist on referring to the comics of  Bunny, Kili and Poss (pig) as "psychopathic" and until now, they were new to me

this character, I am a little more familiar with
one of a set of six stamps for Nijntje "veilig en wel" which translates in English to Miffy, safe and well.
Nijntje is a rabbit (the name is a diminutive of the Dutch for little rabbit: konijntje)
she was created by Dick Bruna in 1955 as a story he told his young son about a rabbit they had seen while on holiday. there are now over 30 picture books featuring the minimalist drawn Miffy for 4-8 year olds

and who does not love Winnie-the-Pooh?

this one of the set, designed for the Europa 2010 theme of children's books, features Pooh and Tigger enjoying their honey and is rated for international airmail

I think we can all agree that E H Shepherd's drawings are far superior to the insidious Disney version.......

Friday, January 18, 2013

library then and now

a postcard of the Public Library on Main Street by the Photogelatine Engraving Company of Ottawa
and as it looks today (well, last summer)

It was built between 1909 and 1913 as a Carnegie Library. During a period of (ill-fated) tearing down and modernizing of the downtown, the library moved to the new Jackson Square Mall in 1987. At least this building was saved and completely refurbished to be used as the Unified Family Court House. The building with the clock is the new city hall that was built in 1960 (also on the spot of several torn down buildings).

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Sunday Stamps - beginnings

The search for stamps representing beginnings for this week's Sunday Stamps was a fun challenge, until I got frustrated trying to find something suitable. So I went for a rather oblique representation.

This portrait, painted by Leonardo da Vinci  has been described as signalling a breakthrough in the art of psychological portraiture. The subject is sitting with her head slightly turned and in the act of petting the young ermine in her lap. Until then, portraits were generally set with the sitter directly facing the artist. 
The Lady with the Ermine was painted in oils on wooden panel. Oils were still a relatively new medium, at that time paints were mostly made of crushed pigments dissolved in egg whites. Leonardo was one of the artists who adopted oils and skillfully exploited its qualities.
The model is Cecilia Gallerani, the mistress of Leonardo's patron Ludovico Sforza, Duke of Milan. Ludovico's nickname was 'the Moor' and the jet necklace Cecilia wears may be a reference to her lover. The stoat, or ermine, she holds (some sources say 'caresses') was often used in art as an emblem for pregnancy and childbirth which may suggest that Cecilia was carrying Ludovico's child. She was 15 when this portrait was painted in 1489.
The stamp was issued in November 1967 to showcase paintings from Polish Museums.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Sunday Stamps - black

For this first week of Sunday Stamps in the new year we have something black
and what could be more appropriate than the Penny Black.
While I don't have an original, I do have two commemoratives, one from 1966, the other from 1970.
The first was issued for the Centenary Stamp Exhibition Cairo for the 100th anniversary of the first Egyptian stamps
Umm al Qiwain is one of the territories in the UAE. it was a British protectorate as of January 8th, 1820 and in 1971 joined its neighbours Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Sharjah, Ajman and Fujairah in forming the United Arab Emirates.

The Penny Black was issued in May of 1840 as possibly the first adhesive postage stamp. This is significant in that it indicated a prepayment from the sender, whereas previously the recipient of the letter paid the postage upon delivery. It was only used for one year before being replaced by a Penny Red when they reversed the colours of the stamp and cancellation marks.
It featured a cameo portrait of a very young Queen Victoria at age 15. The two upper corners had star-like designs and the lower corners had letters designating the position of the stamp in the printed sheet
This stamp for the British Philympia was designed as one of three by David Gentleman (see link here for his other designs from 1970-99)

and because I will likely not be the only one to think of this stamp, I chose a second black stamp theme, this time featuring the Luna 9 - the first spacecraft to land on the moon.

Launched on January 31st, 1966, the Luna 9 became the first of the Soviet's Luna missions to make a soft landing on the moon on February 3rd 

The second stamp shows the four petals which covered the top half of the spacecraft in an open position as it stabilizes on the lunar surface. There are four spring controlled antenae with cameras that projected the very first images back to earth (to the Jodrell Bank Observatory in England)

Friday, January 4, 2013


At a craft show last month, I bought my great niece, Maple, a fabric doll. She is very simple and floppy with a pink gingham dress and bonnet and a stitched smily face and I did not take a picture of it...

These fabric dolls from Ukraine, I find to be a little bit creepy with their lack of hands and a cross for a face. But, apparently the face represents the solar sign, the Sun and the cross is a rainbow. The vertical lines are symbols of masculinity and the horizontal lines symbols of femininity.
These are traditional Motanka dolls and are made by winding bits of fabric - usually whatever was on hand - and is never sewn or pierced with a needle. The dresses were made from bits of cloth from a grandmother's or aunt's clothing. I found this website that explains in detail how the dolls are made. At one time, every child had one of these made for them as a 'guardian of the family and a symbol of the hearth', but now they seem to be more of a decoration.

then there is this much older postcard showing dolls languishing in this milkmaid's buckets.
the card was unsent and had 'postcard' written on the back in several languages, including Russian, but I am at a loss as to what it might represent.

an old and a new card for Postcard Friendship Friday