In the midst of a creative crisis, the British actor impulsively purchased Kilcoe Castle, a long-abandoned fortress near the water. VF Writer, David Kamp learns how a magical retreat came to be. Inlaid in the wall of the courtyard, was a pale stone slab. Etched into the slab were the following words
MANY HEARTS LIE IN THESE WALLS.
FOUR YEARS WE WORKED, AND WE
JUST DID THE BEST WITH WHAT WE KNEW.
AND WHAT WE DID YOU SEE.
The hard work of making Kilcoe habitable again began in 1998 and took six years, wrapping up in 2004
Kilcoe, while not remotely a faithful re-creation of what it was 600 years ago—it offers such modern features as hot and cold running water, electricity, and Wi-Fi—is a magnificent place: at once stately-home beautiful and slightly mad, a 360-degree immersion in its owner’s eccentric psyche.
As Irons took on the massive project, his wife, the actress Sinéad Cusack notes: it was no coincidence that Irons, who was born in 1948, was soon to turn 50. “I did see it very much as Jeremy’s midlife crisis, and that he should get on with it,” she said. “Also, I understood where the need came from. Jeremy can’t bear waste. He can’t throw things out. I think he saw that castle as a beautiful ruin that needed to be saved, that needed not to die.”
But generally his instincts proved sharp. Early on, Irons noticed twig-like striations in the mortar on the barrel-vaulted ceiling of the main tower’s second floor, which is now a game room occupied by a large snooker table. Doing some research, Irons learned that, in medieval times, builders formed arched ceilings by bending into place a series of large wicker panels made of pliant, weaving-friendly woods such as hazel and willow, and holding these panels aloft from below with strong timber posts. The builders would then lay stones and mortar above the panels. Once the mortar squeezed through the woven panels and dried, the arches would hold themselves, and the underlying timber posts were removed. This backstory warmed Irons to the idea of using wicker panels as a decorative element throughout Kilcoe. He found a German-born weaver based in Cork, Katrin Schwart, to make such panels for the game room’s ceiling, and the results proved so spectacular that Schwart’s ornate wickerwork is now a motif throughout the castle, appearing on guest-bedroom ceilings, in the headboard of Irons’s own bed, and even on the outer frame of his bathtub.
“There’s something about the castle that generates the most extraordinary energy,” Irons said to me. “Everybody stays up ‘til three, four in the morning—talking, listening to music, drinking. You just want to go on, go on. It takes a bit of getting used to, this place. Because it does somehow produce an energy. Have you felt it?”
Article by David Kamp.
Photographs by Simon Upton.
Sitting at my desk on this mid-August weekday morning; my mind wanders and my eyes drift, landing on one of our handsome pond yachts here in the gallery and I allow myself a moment of repose and reflection.
Growing up in Connecticut, my family used to take a vacation every summer to the beach in Milford. We would rent a big old seasonal house on Silver Sands Beach. It was there that I fell in love with sailing. My oldest brother loved to sail and had a number of different boats over the years.He taught me to sail on a Sunfish just one sail, a rudder and a centerboard. It fascinated me that with just those basic things along with the wind and the water, I could ride along the Long Island Sound for hours.
It was magical!
When I moved to San Francisco, I could not wait to get out on the Bay. It took a couple of years before I met some sailing folks and began my love affair with sailing on the Bay. The boats were a lot bigger and more complex than that first Sunfish back in the 1970’s but the feeling of freedom, of connection to the elements and the exhilaration of chasing the wind across the water was still the same.
When you are sailing, there are so many things to watch out for. How are the sails set? Where is the wind? What is the current doing? All of the stresses of life and work seem to fade so that you can focus on this one task. It is both energizing and calming and at the end you are physically drained and mentally calm. It is my happy place.
I always have a couple of pond yachts in the gallery. Part of the reason is that they are handsome and make great accent pieces in a room. The other part is because at different times throughout the day, I look up from my computer at them and think about being at the helm coming up into the wind with the Golden Gate in front of me the boat is heeling bit with some spray from the waves hitting my face and I smile.
Keep Calm and Carry On is a catchphrase that originally appeared on a World War II-era British public safety poster. After one of the original posters was recovered and placed in a British bookshop in 2000, the inspirational message was shared online, sparking a series of image macros centered around the phrase template “Keep Calm and X.”1
The Keep Calm and Carry On poster was commissioned in 1939 by the temporary Ministry of Information in England, following the printing of two other inspirational posters stating “Freedom Is In Peril. Defend It With All Your Might” and “Your Courage, Your Cheerfulness, Your Resolution Will Bring Us Victory.” It was intended to be used to strengthen morale in the event of a large-scale attack or occupation, which many considered inevitable at the time.
Her Majesty’s Stationery Office (HMSO) was charged with printing the posters, costing approximately £20,600 for printing and storage of 5,000,000 copies, with an additional fee of £225 for the artists who designed them; the designer of the poster remains unknown. These were kept in storage in case of a dire attack on the country, while the other two designs were circulated that September. Since there was not a large-scale attack or occupation, the design was never used. Most of the “Keep Calm and Carry On” posters were destroyed or lost in time, with the exception of 7: 6 found in 2009 that are in storage at the Imperial War Museum, and 1 that resides in a British book shop.” 23
On This Day in 1204, Eleanor of Aquitaine died ( 1122 or 1124 – 1 April 1204) Eleanor (Aliénor) of Aquitaine (1122 – 1204 (82)), Queen of France then England and one of the most remarkable women of the high middle ages, lived her last years in and died at Fontervraud Eleanor of Aquitaine was one of the wealthiest and most powerful women in western Europe during the High Middle Ages inheriting the Duchy of Aquitaine from her father, William X, in 1137, and later became queen consort of France (1137–1152) and of England (1154–1189)
She was married first to the King of France (King Louis VII) — and divorced from him in part because she had no sons — she went on to have sons and daughters with her second husband, King of England (Henry II). One of her sons by Henry was Richard the Lionheart.
Eleanor of Aquitaine is said to be responsible for the introduction of built-in fireplaces, first used when she renovated the palace of her first husband Louis in Paris. Shocked by the frigid north after her upbringing in southern France, Eleanor’s innovation spread quickly, transforming the domestic arrangements of the time.
California Bay Area Contemporary Artist, Lisa Espenmiller“The Way”, uses line, movement, and space to focus intent on material and repetition of pattern, in a meditative process. Hers is a controlled technique akin to writing on a scroll. Espenmiller draws horizontal ink lines, one after the other, until the entire surface of canvas or paper becomes a field of meditative resonance. The lines and washes of color in her paintings are visual descriptions of the chi or breath-energy that flows through all things.1
“I have this notion that art occurs in the process of life itself, and you don’t have to go outside of the context of your own life. It’s all there, and you just tap into it. You open up to it. You have to make yourself available to possibilities.”
— David Ireland, he Art of David IrelandThe Way Things Are2
The lines and washes of color in my paintings and works on paper, visual descriptions of the chi or breath-energy that flows through all things, seek to sober and quiet the mind. When the mind quiets it becomes susceptible to inspiration, to movement from the microcosmic to the macrocosmic. Whether the body of work attempts to depict the inner scenery of breath-energy (The Way, Where you come from), the ever-shifting inner and outer landscape (the groundless ground), or talismanic power (chant), the goal is to engender a stilling of the hyperactive mind so the viewer can recognize the existence of a source that transcends human or divine authority – what Lao Tzu refers to as “dark-enigma” – the chi-tissue of empirical reality and the empty opening of consciousness itself.
The paintings and works on paper function both as mirror and window. Viewers are encouraged to stand before each one allowing the piece to offer a reflection of what’s inside or a view into another layer of reality. Think of them as modern mandalas or yantras.
As in meditation, my process requires that I remain rooted and immersed in the realization of the piece for a focused, uninterrupted period of time. There is little time or space for the logical mind to intervene in an attempt to control the outcome. The pace of each line, the movement of the brush or pen are guided by intuition and “no-mind,” accepting and trusting what presents itself in each fluid, changing moment.
Much of Bay Area Artist, Connie Goldman’s1 work relates to upset equilibrium and the tension between stasis and flux. Her work is reductive and abstract yet deeply personal. As with equilibrium, it is not static but always on the brink of changing in one form or another.
As part of our Temporary Contemporary Fine Arts Exhibit Garden Court has introduced Connie Goldman’s abstracts to our Vermont Center Gallery. Combining contemporary alongside the antique reflect the juxtaposed styles of designers and collectors today. Our Fine Arts Exhibit is presented by Art Consultant, Laurie Ghielmetti Interior + Art2.
Phasis n. a manner, stage, or aspect of being; phase .
Phase n. (1) any of the major appearances or aspects in which a thing of varying modes or conditions manifests itself to the eye or mind (2) a stage in a process of change or development (3) the particular appearance presented by the moon or a planet at a given time.
Lunar Phase – Lunar phase refers to the appearance of the illuminated portion of the Moon as seen by an observer, (usually) on earth.
The multiple panels allow for time elapsed and changing points of view. These pieces speak to the constancy of change, the predictability of uncertainty. 3
The creative process for Ms Goldman often begins with sketches and words. Phasis began with sketches ( At point 1:25 in the video above ) and a rift on ‘Phases of the Moon’. A self-confessed ‘Geek’, Ms Goldman loves words. She will sit and read the dictionary. “Language, music, poetry”, she says,”has a certain meter to it, a regularity like our own heartbeat”. She’s also a “Quote Junkie” having collected thousands of them over the years. These quotes serve as a type of shortcut to express ideas and a personal point of view. Ms Goldman read a few of her favorite quotes to Blogger, Phillip J. Mellen of Ahtcast in a 2013 interview. 4
Robert Henri5 (leading figure in the Ashcan Art Movement6 of the early twentieth century): “The object isn’t to make art, It’s to be in that wonderful state which makes art inevitable”7
Frank Lobdell8: “Sometimes it’s not what one puts into a painting but rather what one leaves out that makes a compelling picture.”9
Pearl Buck10: “The truly creative mind in any field is no more than this: a human creature born abnormally, inhumanly sensitive. To them a touch is a blow, a sound is a noise, a misfortune is a tragedy, a joy is an ecstacy, a friend is a lover, a lover is a God, and failure is death. Add to this cruelly delicate organism, the overpowering necessity to create, create, create, so that without the creating of music, or poetry, or books or buildings or of something of meaning, their very breath is cut off. They must create — must pour out creation. By some strange unknown urgency, they are not really alive unless they are creating. “11
Patti Smith12: “In art and dream may you proceed with abandon. In life, may you proceed with balance and stealth.”13
Marcel Proust14 : “The real voyage of discovery consists in not seeking new landscapes but having new eyes.”15
Anais Nin16: “There came a time when the risk to remain tight in the bud was more painful than the risks it took to blossom.”17
Constantin Brâncuși18 : on Abstraction. “When you see a fish, you don’t think of its scales, do you? You think of it’s speed, it’s floating, flashing body seen through the water. If I make fins and eyes and scales I would arrest its movement. Give it pattern or shape of reality. I just want the flash of the spirit. “19
Paul Cézanne20: “Painting is damned difficult. You always think you’ve got it but you haven’t. I could paint for a hundred years, a thousand years, without stopping and I would still feel as though I knew nothing.”21
Asked to apply three to five words to describe her work, Ms Goldman responded, “Quiet, understated, musical. My work is far-reaching, referencing other disciplines, language and music; the spaces that exist in music, haiku, proportion.” The creative process is never-ending. Of her work, Ms Goldman observes: “You can’t master it. You can’t completely master it.”
Using a minimalist vocabulary and a reductive aesthetic that emphasizes the importance of space, rhythm, structure, and relations, I make works of art that are concrete and essential approximations of my own emotional and intellectual experiences. The work reflects my interests in architecture, music, science, sculpture, and painting as well as the threads of commonality that run between them.
The tendency or desire to gravitate toward unity and stability is in opposition to the urge toward independence, transition, and growth. My work evokes this same tension, the dynamic that underlies my own existence. I see each piece as being analogous to the rhythmic and contradictory forces of stasis and flux that propel my world toward both constancy and change.
Constantin Brâncuși( February 19, 1876 – March 16, 1957 ) Romanian sculptor, painter and photographer; considered a pioneer of modernism, one of the most influential sculptors of the 20th-century, ‘patriarch of modern sculpture’ ↩
Bay Area Artist, Ann Holsberry, works in cyanotype1, a kind of photographic printmaking that yields a rich Prussian blue combined with gouache (an opaque watercolor paint). She uses this process in a painterly manner to convey vast impressions of the oceans and cerulean skies in her Migration series which is now on display at Garden Court’s Vermont Center Showroom presented by Art Consultant, Laurie Ghielmetti Interiors + Art2
Holsberry’s Migration series is fluid and ever-changing. Using a combination of source materials—her Qi Gong meditation and movement practice, images from the Hubble Space Telescope, old maps, and her collection of nests, feathers, and other ephemera—Holsberry creates stunningly beautiful works that engage the viewer and encourage deeper reflection. Her pieces draw inspiration from nature and her fascination with migratory birds—which often appear as metaphorical symbols in her work —but her meditations on migration also delve deeper. Her works map emotional territory born from semi-annual trips to France.
Being somewhat nomadic by nature, I like to move about, establishing little studios wherever I land for a while. For the past decade, I have spent part of each year living and working in France, where I find inspiration in the rich cultural history and beauty of Europe – in particular, Paris. It is a place where serendipitous discoveries seem to lead me in unexpected creative directions.3
Additionally, she is moved by the experience of seeing family members and the increasing numbers of people being pushed and pulled around the globe; movement that needs to be expressed. Though deeply personal, Holsberry’s work maintains an important universality, drawing on the individual, yet shared, experience of moving from one place to another.4
The name cyanotype was derived from the Greek name cyan, meaning “dark-blue impression.” 5 The cyanotype process, together with a number of other, older photographic processes, was revived by contemporary photographers in the 1960s The basic cyanotype recipe has not changed very much since Sir John Herschel introduced it in 1842.
I am fascinated by the movement of humans and animals across the globe, and am drawn to illustrate their webs and networks of transit. I am also fascinated by cosmology, in particular the way the earth and other heavenly bodies travel through space. Accordingly, my current work is inspired both by the movements of planets and stars, and by the complementary movements of animals and people across the earth.
To express these ideas, I work with cyanotype, one of the oldest alternative photographic processes. Cyanotype was the original process by which blueprints were created, and its blue color evokes skies and oceans, giving the works a vast, dreamlike, atmospheric quality. I begin each piece by painting the chemicals onto paper in the darkroom in varying patterns, after which I expose the prints in outdoor sunlight, sometimes working in locations over which flocks of migratory birds fly, or near oceans and rivers where whales and fish are migrating. Following the exposure process, I add gouache, ink, pastel, or wax to some of the works to further develop them as paintings.6
“West Point, New York” is one scene from the scenic wallpaper “Views of North America” first produced by the French firm Zuber et Cie in 1834. This scenic contains 32 panels and shows some of the natural wonders of the continent: New York Bay, Boston Harbor, West Point, & the natural bridge of Virginia. Scenic wallpapers were introduced around 1804 and remained popular with new designs being introduced until 1865. Scenic wallpaper allowed the viewer to visually access an historical moment during the July Monarchy (July 1830- 1848) in which America was idealized as the future of France.
“Vues d’Amérique du Nord” offers an idealized view of Jacksonian America as conceived by its designer, Jean-Julien Deltil, who may never have visited the United States and based hiswork on the designs of Jacques-Géard Milbert, and designed the paper for Jean Zuber et Cie in 1834. Zuber crafted the paper using 1,700 hand-carved blocks and 223 different colors. The Frenchman’s scenes of free blacks engaged in trade, dressed in finery, and residing happily alongside their white counterparts presented an idealized (bordering on utopian) view of the newly born country, which may have been intended as a slight to the English as much as it was a glorification of the Americans’ nascent democratic nation.
In 1852, Jean Zuber took advantage of a nationalist wave in the US and republished “Views of North America”, as “The War of American Independence”. He substituted foreground figures so the Boston Harbor became the Boston Tea Party. Peaceful scenes became battlefields.
Between 1804 and 1860, Zuber Manufacture de Papiers Peints produced more than 25 of these panoramas wallpapers. The process is labor-intensive, requiring hundreds of hand-carved pearwood blocks. Unfortunately, the method of carving the blocks is virtually a lost art, a set for one panorama took up to 20 engravers a full year to complete. For some panels, 70 to 80 different woodblocks might be required, applied one by one in an exacting order. To create the horizon, four people work simultaneously using a complex hand-brushing technique, producing a velvety matte. The papers are then refined by hand and dried on huge racks. Zuber et Cie’s wallpapers are astonishing in their scale and painterly attention to coloration, shading, and detail.
It was reported that Zuber’s wallpapers were so renowned that King Louis Philippe honored him with the Legion of Honor in 1834, the year that ‘Scenic America’ was printed. The Zuber blocks were recently deemed an historic monument by the French government.
Fascinating & beautiful video from the Manufacturer, Zuber et Cie, which shows us how these these large-scale scenic block-print wallpaper panels are made using the same craftsmanship and time-consuming artistry that has defined their work for centuries. ** We recommend you turn the audio off, there is no narration and the music is, well, lacking. :)
The White House.
Jacqueline Kennedy was so taken by the beauty and historical significance of these wallpaper block print panels that she had one installed in the White House in the 1960’s The Diplomatic Reception Room in the White House is one of three oval rooms in the White House. It was refurbished in 1960 during the Dwight Eisenhower administration in the style of the Federal period with antiques selected by New York interior designer Michael Greer. In 1962, with advice from American antiques expert Henry Francis du Pont, First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy had the room papered with antique French scenic wallpaper produced by Jean Zuber et Cie in Rixheim (Alsace), France c. 1834. The Zuber wallpaper, titled Scenes of North America, and features scenes of Boston Harbor, the Natural Bridge in Virginia, West Point, New York, Niagara Falls, and New York Harbor.
The sweeping panorama on the elliptical walls provide a sense of space negating the lack of windows. Additional Federal-era furniture was acquired, and upholsteries and the carpet furthered a soft gold and blue decor.
~ [Source: Author: Paulus Swaen]
Architectural forms, geometric abstraction, and the tension between balance, color & form inspire California Abstract Artist, Maya Kabat. The urban landscape of California’s Bay Area and the unconventional tools she uses further informs her art.
I paint to create a language for things I can’t articulate, to address the questions that don’t have answers.
For Kabat, the work is an ongoing process of refinement and regeneration. She uses drywall tools, to layer, build and add texture to her canvases. With seeming impetuosity, she may introduce a dissonant color or destructively wipe a canvas entirely clean to start over. She works fast and prolific, obsessive almost. The process dictated by an imperative inherent within the medium: She can only work as the paint is malleable. “Time” is not necessarily her friend.
[..] it means I really have to be fully committed to paint one of my pieces. I can’t leave it if it’s not done.
Maya Kabat“started out as a kid who just needed to make things”. As a young girl she began knitting with her grandmother. She carried that skill on through high school and into college. “I always loved thread.”
She began “quilting” as an undergrad finding inspiration in improvisational quilters such as the unique and important African-American Gee’s Bend quilt makers and the renowned African-American quiltmaker, Rosie Lee Tompkins. The asymmetry and the improvisational approach to pattern, shape and color continue to influence her work.
Prior to graduate studies at the University of California, Davis Ms. Kabat began painting because she felt a need to learn about color in ways that quilt-making could not afford. Initially, she began primarily painting landscapes, understanding space — using the basic tools to construct realistic space.
Her present work can be considered “urban landscapes” embodying that sense of push & pull with space, of dark & light, of small worlds of pattern, color & texture, “just like the city itself”.
In this series of paintings I explore the changing form and reality of my daily life through an examination of constantly shifting external and internal environments. Referencing the urban landscape where I live, I examine how with the changing seasons, my surroundings shift with the light, the weather, the passing of time. Plates of earth move and my house shakes and then settles. The horizontal and vertical structures around me turn slightly off-kilter with time and wear, as the cracks in the hard cement remind me that nothing is fixed. The built environments in which I dwell, like my body and my mind, are not static.
My paintings play within this space between chaos and order, structure and formlessness; between a world that feels solid, unchanging, and safe, while simultaneously knowing that nothing is. The result is the visual record of the struggle to hold these two realities at once; to create a language for the uncertainty and precariousness of life without crumbling beneath the weight of the understanding.
Using a range of scraping tools I create my surfaces with stripes, gouges and flat slabs of paint, as I apply, scrape away, and reapply paint. Earlier layers are exposed and then covered, as the painting is built, cut away and edited. I see the process of painting itself as an excavation. I work to expose the truth of the painting and to locate some truth about myself within it. I paint to create a language for things I can’t articulate, to address the questions that don’t have answers.
Maya Kabat received a Master of Fine Arts in 2000 from the University of California, Davis. Notable exhibitions include a solo show at the Caffe Museo at SFMOMA in 2012, a solo show at the SFMOMA Artists Gallery, San Francisco, California in 2009, and a two-person exhibition at 5 Claude Lane Gallery, in San Francisco, California which was reviewed in Art LTD. Magazine in September, 2011. She was a founding member of the artist-run space, Mercury Twenty Gallery, in Oakland, California and served as President on the Oakland Art Murmur Board of Directors in 2011-2012. For more on Ms. Kabat’s substantial background [..] ^jh