Artist Donna Huddleston finds inspiration in John William Waterhouse’s painting
By Donna Huddleston
Considering the scale and emotional impact of a drawing I’m currently making, I found myself thinking of John William Waterhouse’s painting The Lady of Shalott. It is so dramatically sorrowful, and it is also so close to the perfect size: large enough to surround you and yet small enough to feel a part of. It is a high-frequency romantic narrative, crossing time and space and shooting a flaming arrow into my bright, balmy Australian teenage bedroom, blinds drawn. It’s also a lot to do with her eyes: darkly inward looking and, astonishingly, as vividly red as her hair.
Upon finishing school and working out what to do with my life, I promptly left home and moved into a somewhat disastrous flatshare in Bondi Beach, Sydney. I attempted the hippy, beach version of the Pre-Raphaelite female – all long hair, dangling garnets and strappy hemp dresses. I’m not sure it helped. I escaped to the northern hemisphere, travelling through Europe and living in London for several years before returning to study. Somewhere, from this time, there’s a photo taken of me standing in front of The Lady of Shalott. I think I asked a stranger to take it.
The new drawing of mine is the exact size of The Lady of Shalott. It is an adult homage to my teenage self. Living in London again, I go to see this great painting whenever I visit Tate Britain, and remain touched by the intense feeling and narrative power within it. The palette and landscape, once so foreign, are now for a million reasons so familiar.
The Lady of Shalott was presented by Sir Henry Tate in 1894. The painting will be back on display at Tate Britain in the autumn.
Donna Huddleston is an artist who lives and works in London.
New research says the Cerne Giant predates Shakespeare and possibly the Battle of Hastings.
LONDON — There’s nothing especially subtle about the Cerne Abbas Giant. He’s a big fellow, 180 feet tall, wielding a huge club. And he’s naked. Very.
Carved into a hillside in rural Dorset in south England, the giant is an ancient cartoon character of sorts, outlined in white chalk. For centuries, he has been a source of mystery and fascination, alongside religious and political intrigue.
Who created him? When? And why?
Did the Romans make him 2,000 years ago? He does resemble the virile lion-slayer Hercules. Or is he an older, more obscure Bronze Age Celtic deity? Or maybe he was a later creation, designed to mock the 17th-century Lord Protector of England, the admired/loathed Oliver Cromwell, as the Victorians speculated.
Now, a respected team of archaeologists — examining bits of ancient snail shell and the radiation emitted from single grains of sand — think they’ve definitively nailed down his age. It’s a big surprise, if you’re into this kind of thing, which the English are. [ . . . ]
St George’s Day in England remembers St George, England’s patron saint. The anniversary of his death, which is on April 23, is seen as England’s national day. According to legend, he was a soldier in the Roman army who killed a dragon and saved a princess.
Celebrate St George’s Day
St George’s Day used to be a national holiday in England. It is now an observance that is celebrated with parades, dancing and other activities. Flags with the image of St George’s cross are flown on some buildings, especially pubs, and a few people wear a red rose on their lapel. Church services on the Sunday closest to April 23 often include the hymn ‘Jerusalem’, written by the poet William Blake. The words describe a supposed visit to Glastonbury, England, by Jesus Christ during his youth.
April 23 is not a public holiday. Schools, stores, post offices, businesses and other organizations are open as usual. Public transport services run to their usual timetables.
About St George’s Day
St George was born sometime around the year 280 in what is now Turkey. He was a soldier and rose up through the ranks of the Roman army, eventually becoming a personal guard to the Emperor Diocletian. He was executed for being a Christian on April 23, 303, and is buried in the town of Lod in Israel.
St George is most widely known for slaying a dragon. According to legend, the only well in the town of Silene was guarded by a dragon. In order to get water, the inhabitants of the town had to offer a human sacrifice every day to the dragon. The person to be sacrificed was chosen by lots. On the day that St George was visiting, a princess had been selected to be sacrificed. However, he killed the dragon, saved the princess and gave the people of Silene access to water. In gratitude, they converted to Christianity. It is thought that the dragon represents a certain type of pagan belief that included the sacrifice of human beings.
St George’s Day was once celebrated as widely as Christmas. But the celebrations waned by the end of the 18th century after England had united with Scotland on May 1, 1707. In recent times, there has been a push, involving campaigns and petitions, to make the day a public holiday in England.
St George is the patron saint of a number of other places, such as Bulgaria, Ethiopia, Georgia, Greece, Portugal and Russia. He is also remembered in some regional holidays, such as in the province of Newfoundland and Labrador in Canada and among the Gorani people who live in a mountainous area in the Balkans and were converted to Islam many centuries ago, but still observe St George’s Day. Around the world, a number of days are devoted to St George, including April 23 and dates in November and December of the Gregorian calendar.
The most widely recognized symbol of St George’s Day is St George’s cross. This is a red cross on a white background, which is often displayed as a flag. It is used as England’s national flag, forming part of the Union Flag, the national flag of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Saint George’s cross was originally the flag of the maritime Republic of Genoa. Around 1190, the King of England started paying the Doge of Genoa to protect ships originally from the city of London and the rest of England that sailed in the Mediterranean.
During the crusades in the 1100s and 1200s, English knights used St George’s cross as part of their uniform. It has been the official flag of England for centuries, but the Union Flag, a combination of St George’s cross, St Andrew’s cross and St Patrick’s cross, is the national flag of the United Kingdom. Now Saint George’s cross is used as a national symbol by fans of the English national football, rugby and cricket teams. At international matches, flags and scarves bearing this cross are worn and people paint it on their faces. It is also has a prominent place on the arms of the City of London and the flags of the city of Barcelona, Spain, and the country of Georgia.
“You will find myriad wonders inspired by the art and poetry of William Blake. We are a creative community united by visionary differences celebrating the poet’s voice in every human being.
“It became quite apparent that, relatively early on in 2020, in our eighth year of operating, we would not be able to hold a normal annual event this year so we have improvised to meet this challenge.
“Funded by Let’s Create, Arts Council England, we have commissioned and organised several lockdown projects which are housed on the website, along with a large archive containing hundreds of photographs of performances and artwork spanning years from 2014-2019, which will only grow as time progresses. In total over 100 artists and performers have been involved with this year’s BlakeFest.
“The visionary poet William Blake lived in Felpham from 1800-03, the only time he lived outside London, where he wrote, among many other things, the words which would become the lyrics to Jerusalem, England’s unofficial National Anthem. Blake, voted 38th in the BBC’s Greatest Britons poll, was largely unrecognised in his lifetime yet knowledge of his genius and his influence has expanded through generations of musicians, poets and artists and is ingrained in our culture here and internationally.
“BlakeFest came about to celebrate the time Blake lived locally and also in an attempt to help ensure that Blake’s Cottage was preserved for the future. Our goal was to enrich our community, encourage and present the spirit of creativity and provide entertainment through exhibitions and performances. Continue reading →
Ralph Vaughan Williams (12 October 1872 – 26 August 1958) was an English composer. His works include operas, ballets, chamber music, secular and religious vocal pieces and orchestral compositions including nine symphonies, written over sixty years. Strongly influenced by Tudor music and English folk-song, his output marked a decisive break in British music from its German-dominated style of the 19th century.
Considered to be among the best-known British symphonists, Williams is noted for his very wide range of moods, from stormy and impassioned to tranquil, from mysterious to exuberant. Among the most familiar of his other concert works are Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis (1910) and The Lark Ascending (1914).