Last weekend I had the chance to visit the beautiful animals at Eastwood Garden and Plant Centre. Eastwood is a Garden-Centre-come-Petting-Zoo, nestled in Wotton-under-Edge and is home to chickens, rabbits, Kune Kune pigs ducks and two rather lovely goats called Billy and Angus who were fond of being scratched behind the ears. Something I often forget about goats is that they have horizontally slit pupils, which means they have great peripheral depth perception, but it makes their eyes look a little rectangular and always seems strange when I get close but soon becomes quite normal.
There was great excitement over the ducks too. Daphne, Jackie, Mel and Mitch were Aylesbury ducks, Jemima-Puddle-Duck-type-ducks, and one of my favourite breeds. (On the Jemima Puddle-Duck note, I recently found out that Beatrix Potter based the story on a re-telling of Red Riding Hood, with tweaks to make it more suitable to her child-like audience.) All of the ducks at Eastwood were large with charmingly grubby white feathers and muddy orange feet, and started quacking simultaneously when I stood more than four steps away. Unfortunately it was one of those intensely grey days where the sky oozes a dark blue light and made photography harder than it should have been, so I am looking forward to visiting again on a brighter day!
In original versions of Snow White the villain was her jealous mother, who had longed for a daughter with lips as red as blood, hair as dark as ebony and skin as white as snow. But she became envious when the girls adolescent beauty outranked her own and so took the young Snow White to collect flowers and abandoned her in the forest. The Brothers Grimm and other folklorists made alterations in various editions in order to tone the fairy tale down for children: a mother becomes a step mother, and a servant takes Snow White into the woods and is ordered to cut out her heart or her lungs. Apparently cutting out vital organs is less scary that being abandoned, perhaps because the latter is a potentially real situation.
When the Queen finds Snow White again she tempts her with objects to make her beautiful – laces for her corset and a comb for her hair. Both leave her nearly dead, through suffocation or poison, but she is saved by her co-habiting dwarfs (or, or in some versions, thieves) who arrive home in time to save her. The triple death-and-resurrection not only warned of the consequences of vanity but also warned children about taking gifts and food from strangers, particularly with the third attempt on her life is made. I wonder about the symbolism of the apple used to send Snow White to her deathly sleep. Like Eve, the adolescent girl takes a bite from the apple of knowledge. She suffers the consequences, but also discovers adulthood and relationships once the young prince finds her, and later, vengeance.
The part of the story of Snow White that disturbs me the most is what happens to the step mother, a part of the fairy tale that is frequently left out of modern retellings. The Queen arrives at the castle for the wedding, and realises that the princess bride is Snow White. Snow White and her new husband set about punishing her by making her wear a pair of heated iron shoes and dance until she drops dead, or, in some versions, dies from a heart attack.
I’ve always felt there was much more to the story of Snow White than first met the eye. As much as I take pleasure in the old non-Disney variations of the story and the symbolism within them, I also really enjoy reading modern retellings of the tale, such as Neil Gaiman’s Snow, Glass, Apples, which transforms Snow White into an unnatural vampire-like creature who seductively influences all those who come into to contact with her, whilst the step-mother queen desperately struggles to stop her before she controls the realm, failing miserably and meeting an iron-shoed end.
I’ve been thinking about time a lot recently, and after looking through a pile of broken watches and clockwork a friend kindly bestowed to me, I felt compelled to draw some of them. There is something so beautiful about pocket watches and small clocks, something delightfully steampunk, that once I started drawing them I just couldn’t stop! I am also very excited about using the old watches and cog parts for something – I’m just unsure of what, yet! Any lovely ideas or suggestions? As someone who hasn’t actually worn a watch since I began art college four years ago, perhaps I should fix one up to wear?
This short film tells the story of Bob the hamster, who chases his true love around the world, passing famous sights and scenes in his desperate attempt to catch up. The film was created in 2009 by Jacob Frey, Anna Matactz and Harry Fast, with the help of many others, during their second year at Filmakademie Baden-Württemberg. Find out more about this film here.
This fantastic exhibit enables people to interact with the exciting world of National Geographic Channel through augmented reality. By placing a huge digital screen in a shopping centre and a camera in front of an AR marker on the ground, people are able to step onto the marker and see the content come alive on the screen in front of them. Users could immerse themselves in different scenes and play with dinosaurs, leopards or dolphins, or place themselves amongst moon landings.
Developed by Appshaker in conjunction with the National Geographic Channel, the exhibit is touring Hungary and was created the work using scenes footage from UPC and Nat Geo.
I never held for sinister stories of grandmother-hungry wolves and woodcutters with a passion for dissecting animals. The Brothers Grimm are perhaps the most well-known for being sadistic or gory, but early versions varied in their nature. Sometimes Grandmother was hidden in the cupboard and Red was saved just in time, or Red removed her clothes, got into bed with the wolf and realised what he was. But in other versions Red was eaten once getting into bed and there was no happy ending, or Red unwittingly cooked and ate her own grandmothers flesh and blood, or both Red and Grandmother were eaten whole and once they were cut out by the Woodcutter, the wolfs empty stomach was filled with stones so that he fell into the river and drowned.
In some of the early stories, there is no Woodcutter who arrives in the nick of time and Red Riding Hood has to escape using her own cunning, drawing on the clear themes of the safety of the village and the dangers of the dark and unknown forest. Supposedly the original was a warning to young women about sexual advances from men – an obvious example being the version where a naked Red and gets into bed the Wolf only to be eaten and have no happy ending. In any case, I’ve always preferred to see Red Riding Hood and the wolf as a coming of age story, with the wolf becoming a guide of sorts through the forest, as Red Riding sets out into the unknown and has to rely upon her own choices. In those cases, the woodland never seemed that scary at all.
I finished colouring this in Photoshop a few days ago. A bear, in a library – part of an in-joke which I won’t explain. I was planning on painting it in watercolour but I find I enjoy digitally colouring a little more. Plus, I always decide I want to change the colours at various points during the process, which is considerably easier to correct on a computer than on paper!
Sharon Montrose’s animal photography encompasses both domestic and wild creatures, often removed from their natural environment and photographed against bright, neutral backgrounds. There is something beautifully stark about the detail of the shoots, and the seemingly unfazed appearance of the subjects. Whilst delightfully characteristic shoots of dogs and cats abound, with several of her books dedicated to them, I am particularly interested in her photographs of wild or woodland animals. Each photo is consciously aware of negative space and seems to sentimentally capture the essence of the animal. Whilst her images are frequently used commercially, reasonably priced prints are available to buy for home decor, along with books of photo collections. I also recommend taking a look at her Dog Photo Booth, a personal project from outtakes of photo shoots.