Monthly Archives: April 2016

Benvenuto Cellini – a cracking read!

I read a Victorian translation of Cellini’s Treatise on goldsmithing, sculpture and other diverse arts.  The actual book was a soft cover with facsimile pages of the translation printed by associates of William Morris.  So, it was nice to see the Victorian translation in a Victorian font but it was the content that was engaging.

Cellini covers so many techniques but in the context of executing them in 16th century Europe.  He dictated his story and it was taken down as he spoke.  C R Asbee, the translator of this work, tried to keep to the original and he has kept the feel of someone talking to you without pretence.  I enjoyed it so much that thought I’d try the memoirs and found a copy in the Minster library [part of the University of York].

This “The Life of Benvenuto Cellini “, translated by J A Symonds, is a Victorian book with the pages torn [as 8 pages were printed at the same time, folded and stitched into the book, then the edges were torn – carefully].  I don’t think the book had been read as there are a few pages still connected along their edges.  I don’t know why but this book was more engaging than the treatise but is was.  It still sounds like someone talking without pretence but covers his journeys in Europe and how he gets on with people.  Both books are written in in fairly short chapters; usually only a couple of pages long.

The spine’s cover has fallen apart while I’ve been reading it and I agree with someone [was it Warpole], that with memoirs like these, who needs fiction.  It races along with murders and wars, intrigue and deceit.  Yes, some of the murders are at Cellini’s own hand and the intrigues are with bishops, cardinals and popes, as well as dukes and the king of France.

Cellini is very much a self publicist – nobody else’s goldsmithing is as good as his.  However, he is full of praise and admiration for Michel Angelo Buonarroti; there lives overlapped and Cellini recounts stories of their times together.

So, think about getting a copy as something to read while on holiday.  There are several english translations available but I’ve only read Symond’s version.

Great book – a must for anyone interested in sheet materials

The book I’m referring to is Paul Jackson’s “Folding Techniques for Designers from Sheet to Form”.   It was first published in 2011 and there were two print runs in 2012 because it must have become a recommended book on several design courses.  Clear instructions and diagrams, with helpful photographs showing  the ‘end result’ of each example, led both Jill and me to pick up paper and start folding.  It was so satisfying folding paper and not starting with a thin small square of origami paper: Instead. we made “structures”!  Here are some of the results from a couple of days folding – and we’re just half way through the book.

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These are all paper but one could use other materials and, of course, coat the paper after folding, say with slip or resin, and make a rigid folded structure…..

Truth & Memory: British Art of WWI, York Art Gallery

Jill and I went to a private view of this exhibition on Thursday last week and I would recommend it to anyone interested in WWI or early 20th century representation art.

The whole of the ground floor is given over to the exhibition, which is on until 4 September and then most of it returns home to the Imperial War Museum, London.  In the main room there are some very large canvases displaying the effects of war: each with a different subject and artist so there is lots to consider on content, composition and creativity.  Dotted around are charming busts of some of the great and the good and maquettes  of sculptures, mostly for memorials.  Among the sculptures are two by Jacob Epstein which are delicate in a way not seen in his later large commissioned work.  William Orpen  has a sizeable amount of wall space, which pleased me as I have a “critical edition” of his memoirs “an Onlooker in France”.  That book, published in 2008 contains nearly all the pictures he painted while in France together with his memoirs of the time.  It’s not a literary masterpiece but does give one a feel for both the horror and absurdity of it all.  The pictures are nearly all in colour, and quite good reproductions they are too, but they did not prepare me for seeing the real paintings, which are far larger and and have a depth of pigment that cannot be rendered in a book.

There are also quite a few paintings by the Nash brothers, several by CRW Nevinson, in different styles, a couple by Wyndham Lewis, and by  Stanley Spencer.  A surprise for me were the three monumental works by Anna Airy, one of the first women war artists, and others in that room on what was happening on the home front.

I shall be making a few more trips to the gallery while the exhibition is on as I feel there is far to much to absorb in one visit.