Saturday, 26 March 2011

Seven year olds, and what they get up to

Peggy is very tired after her sleep-over.

Friday, 25 March 2011

Swallows for spring

Digital proof of cyan, magenta, and yellow separations, from three drawings in pen and black ink.

Thursday, 24 March 2011

Confirmed: Qaddafi’s son worse than Hitler

Via @blakehounshell, the terrible, terrible paintings of Seif al-Islam al-Qaddafi, at Foreign Policy magazine.

Ofcom’s Adam Baxter . . .

. . . should consider the fate of the LSE’s Howard Davies.

From The Guardian, Ofcom clears Iranian TV station over woman's murder reconstruction:
Ofcom has ruled that Iran’s state-run Press TV station, which has offices in London, did not breach the UK’s broadcasting rules in transmitting a programme that showed an Iranian woman participating in the reconstruction of her alleged part in the murder of her husband.

Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, 43, whose sentence of death by stoning for adultery triggered an international outcry, was taken from prison to her home in Osku, in Iran's East Azarbaijan province, last December. She appeared in front of a camera for Press TV recounting how she rendered her husband unconscious before the killer electrocuted him.

Ashtiani’s 22-year-old son, Sajad Ghaderzadeh, played the part of her husband in the broadcast. Human rights campaigners described it as a forced confession aimed at collecting new evidence against her and distracting world attention from Iran's embarrassment over the case.
The incredible thing is that reportedly the decision is justified solely on assurances given to Ofcom by Press TV, a station wholly owned by the Iranian regime notorious for its appalling human rights abuses.
In response to a complaint made by the Iranian human rights campaigner Fazel Hawramy, who asked whether it was ethical for Press TV to make the imprisoned son play his murdered father, Ofcom said in a letter, seen by the Guardian, that the broadcaster had not breached its code.

“Given the broadcaster’s assurances that both Sakineh Ashtiani and her son willingly participated in this programme, we considered that the context was not materially misleading so as to cause harm and offence,” Adam Baxter, standards executive of the media regulator, wrote to Hawramy.
Adam Baxter’s words completely discredit Ofcom. He should go now, as should anyone else complicit in this grotesque decision. Otherwise Ofcom will be deserving of a quango bonfire all of its own.

Via Potkin Azarmehr.

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Young Trier

Pictured, the illustrator Walter Trier, born in Prague in 1890. The photo comes from Humorist Walter Trier, an exhibition catalogue published by the Art Gallery of Ontario in 1980. As well as some of his drawings, mostly in black and white, the book contains photographs of toys from his collection, a detailed biography by Marta H. Hurdalek, and a translation of an obituary by Erich Kästner.

There is also this, from Trier’s own telling of his life story:
Our marriage was not without issue. A dog came into our family, a Scotch terrier of disgusting beauty. We named him Shaggy Bear, and he is Shaggy all over. People come from miles around just for a look at him. No one goes away disappointed. Shaggy Bear outstrips the wildest expectations. He is as brave as Achilles and as wise as Socrates. If there were a Pantheon in this country, I would certainly claim a pedestal for this dog. Another thing rather important to mention is that by and by my wife gave us a child...

Previously on the blog, Trier’s illustrations for A Salzburg Comedy and Die Konferenz der Tiere.

In those earlier posts I’d linked to the extensive German site dedicated to his work at, and to Gillian Lathey’s essay (PDF) comparing the exile experiences of illustrators Walter Trier and Fritz Wegner.

For more images, Chris Mullen’s site, The Visual Telling of Stories, has a wonderful collection, including a comparison between Walter Trier’s 1931 illustrations for Erich Kästner’s Emil and the Detectives, and illustrations by another artist, Sax, for a 1950s edition. Below, one of Trier’s.

Humorist Walter Trier copyright © Art Gallery of Ontario, 1980.
Art copyright © the estate of Walter Trier.

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Machiavelli on mercenaries

From Libya, reports of East European mercenaries surrendering, and of Libyan revolutionaries receiving fresh weapons. But even with that, what hope have the people of Libya of winning a fight against professional mercenaries?

From Niccolò Machiavelli’s The Prince, Chapter Twelve:
Mercenaries and auxiliaries are both useless and dangerous. Anyone who relies on mercenary troops to keep himself in power will never be safe or secure, for they are fractious, ambitious, ill-disciplined, treacherous. They show off to your allies and run away from your enemies. They do not fear God and do not keep faith with mankind. A mercenary army puts off defeat for only so long as it postpones going into battle. In peacetime they pillage you, in wartime they let the enemy do it. This is why: They have no motive or principle for joining up beyond the desire to collect their pay. And what you pay them is not enough to make them want to die for you. They are delighted to be your soldiers when you are not at war; when you are at war, they walk away when they do not run.
It is true that occasionally a ruler seems to benefit from their use, and they boast of their own prowess, but as soon as they face foreign troops their true worth becomes apparent.
Experience shows individual sovereigns and republics that arm the masses are capable of making vast conquests; but mercenary troops are always a liability.
From the translation by David Wootton, copyright © 1995 by Hackett Publishing Company.

From the ghost of radio blogging past, via the Internet Archive and the Wayback Machine, Joe Queenan gives A Brief History of Cunning, on Machiavelli and more. MP3 here.

From the archives of BBC Radio 4’s In Our Time, a 2004 episode on Machiavelli and the Italian city states.

From the pen of Don MacDonald, a biography of Machiavelli in comics, starting here. As he explains, The Prince is not a satire, and via Don’s blog, Timo Laine’s guide to Machiavelli on the net.

From the Hollywood version of Machiavelli’s Italy, Orson Welles as Cesare Borgia, the tyrant ultimately unable to conquer the people in Prince of Foxes. Tyrone Power plays the political officer who betrays his paymaster in pursuit of his own interests, in the form of Wanda Hendrix.

An earlier post on Machiavelli is here.

Sunday, 20 March 2011

City at the Edge of the World

Recently, Michael Sporn’s blog has featured a series of wonderful posts on the artist Lyonel Feininger. Michael’s posts are here: one, two, three, four, five, and six.

Feininger is renowned as a painter and printmaker, but also held in high regard for his early work as a cartoonist. Less well known are his efforts at toy design, both commercial and for his own family.

These photographs are from a 1965 book by two of his sons.

Lyonel Feininger’s love of boats, trains, and model making lasted from boyhood into old age.

As he developed his own style of lighthearted expressionism in his drawings, his model making moved from precisely detailed realistic reproductions to more playful caricatured forms. Living in Germany in the years leading up to World War One, he developed designs and prototypes of toy trains  for a Munich firm. The outbreak of war brought the project to a halt just as the models were on the verge of going into production.

For most of the war years Feininger lived a withdrawn life, and after the war, new toys appeared. His son, T. Lux, wrote:
If the model trains of 1914 had been reasonable, the toys of the post-war years don’t even try to be. Quite the contrary: proportion, harmony of related parts, any possibility of ‘functioning’ in the accepted sense of the word, has been abandoned. After 1914 my father made no more trains; from around 1920 on, houses, people and ships, are the subject matter of the carved playthings...
I can’t remember when exactly the toy town had begun; but in 1921 already my father writes that “the time for my periodical craze for making toys for Christmas is approaching. Every year I get the urge to saw wood into bits and paint them in bright colours. The boys take it for granted that I shall make ‘mannequins’ for them.”
These “boys” were then 15, 12 and 11 years old, respectively. Speaking for my brother Laurence and myself, I may say that we still did “take it for granted” that there would be new citizens for the growing city; but in view of his continuing production year after year one may presume that there was a direct reward for the artist in the gratification of his “annual urge.” In 1931 he still wrote of the “usual toy-making season,” but soon afterward, his saw and chisel began a long rest, not to be broken until he had entered his old age.
...the toy town and its inhabitants have only an early and a late period. The photographs combine examples of both. The long hiatus between the two phases, during which all this fantastic life went underground, remains visually un-illustrated.
In the post-World War II [New York] winter whittlings, the artist achieves an absolute climax of the witches’ sabbath begun so long ago. The last restraints have been discarded and “spooks,” regular ghosts in white winding sheets, even a horned, blue shape, doing their best to look “harmless,” make their appearance. There are also, for the first time, animals: owls, cats, an elephant...

Words and pictures from Lyonel Feininger; City at the Edge of the World, text by T.Lux Feininger, photographs by Andreas Feininger, published by Frederick A Praeger, New York, 1965.

Copyright 1965 in Munich, Germany, by Rütten & Loening Verlag GmbH.

Friday, 18 March 2011


In the course of my work I have recently been looking at many and various kinds of swordfighting images. The above comes from a nice Flickr set of images showing women fencers of years gone by. Here’s another particularly lovely one, though I think it may have been laterally reversed by mistake.

Hello Bill

Toucans by Bo.

Thursday, 10 March 2011

Twenty sticks and twenty birds

For lovers of ink-licked paper, Nobrow 5 is now available to pre-order. This latest collection from the East London small graphic press includes illustrators Paul Paetzel, Matthew the Horse, Meg Hunt, Golden Cosmos, Lab Partners, Ben Newman, and more, with Micah Lidberg (above) leading the charge on the cover, all printed in rose, mustard, blue, and gold.

Also in there is yours truly, with birds and sticks, and sticks and birds, below.

Update! The birds are now available as wrapping paper, distributed by Turnaround.

These birds were created by rendering separate pen and ink drawings on paper for each colour plate.

Details from three of the colour separation drawings. From left to right, drawings for the blue, red, and yellow plates.

Top: Nobrow 5 cover art copyright © Micah Lidberg.

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

Stuff for sale

Screenprints for sale! Small but perfectly formed! Cheap at the price! Drawings and paintings! And books, of course. Some in Dutch, and French even. More to come! All in my new Print Shop!

Tell your friends! Tell your enemies!

And for Londoners wanting to examine the merchandise before buying, some of the prints are also on sale at Eenymeeny, 8 Campdale Road, in Tufnell Park, N7.

Monday, 7 March 2011

De Poezenkrant goes tabloid

In a further sign of these beastly times, that venerable Dutch periodical De Poezenkrant (The Cat Newspaper) has followed the current trend of the newspaper trade and adopted a tabloid format. Published irregularly since 1974, De Poezenkrant was a pioneer in the popular cat journalism market, but has recently been squeezed by today’s new technology lolcats and kitten bloggers.

Pay and conditions for staff at the paper are reported to be amongst the worst in the industry, and the management continue to resist attempts to unionise the workforce, describing them as lazy, unreliable, impossible to organise, with no sense of loyalty, and only interested in eating and sleeping.

De Poezenkrant is published by PoKra Publications, Pet House, Postbus 70053, 1007 KB Amsterdam, The Netherlands. They have a website, but no telephone. The current issue is priced at five euros. Earlier issues are even cheaper.

Designer Piet Schreuders has assembled a very nice Flickr set of images from earlier issues.

Sunday, 6 March 2011

Robin drawings

When searching my hard disk for reference images of birds a couple of weeks ago, I found some scans of Robin drawings. Not birds, but illustrations by Robin Jacques, taken from the book Drawing for Radio Times, by R.D. Usherwood, or perhaps The Artists of Radio Times by Martin Baker. A library book it was, and quite a few years ago.

Travellers on the London Tube may have seen some of Robin Jacques’s Sherlock Holmes drawings decorating the walls of Baker Street Underground Station.

I don’t know the dates on which these originally appeared in Radio Times magazine.

From what I remember, according to the book these were all done to quite short deadlines. I think it said all three of these detailed drawings for The Tempest were completed over a weekend.

I have seen a couple of his original drawings, and they are very small scale, with fine detail work to challenge a printer’s craft.

Click on the drawings to enlarge, or for extra high resolution scans click here: one, two, three, four, five, six.

“Trusting someone is the first step to being defeated”

Two Egyptian bloggers write on Friday’s protests at Alexandria’s State Security HQ, Egypt’s equivalent of the Stasi:
Z…space, State Security downfall, Alexandria, 4-5th March 2011
Egyptian Chronicles, The fall of the State security kingdom in Egypt ‘Alex’

A selection of videos at EA WorldView.

Photos by Sarah Carr of citizens inside Nasr City State Security HQ.

Lots more photos by citizen investigators online, of mountains of shredded paper, of underground cells.

Update from today’s EA WorldView live blog:
1740 GMT: Many reports are coming in of the Egyptian Army firing shots into the air and chasing and beating protesters outside the State Security Headquarters at Lazoghly in Cairo.

There are also reports of "thugs" assaulting protesters from the other side. Demonstrators are trying to regroup in Tahrir Square.
More from Egyptian exile Aimée Kligman, Egypt's Amn Al Dawla security police turn on Egyptian civilians.

Added Monday 7th, a summary of events with photos and links at Global Voices, Storming State Security.

On Flickr, recovered documents from the State Security office at Amn El Dawla.

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

Still life with murder

Hitchcockian Still Life by Irish painter Stephen Loughman.

Copyright © Stephen Loughman 1998.